A Teleological Theory

1 A TELEOLOGICAL THEORY OF EMOTIONS: APPLICATIONS IN PSYCOTHERAPY Zenon Lotufo Jr. Francisco Lotufo Neto Causal and Teleological Explanations In a very general way, when trying to explain a behavior, we may, in one hand, align factors that constitute the cause of such conduct, as if we could answer to a question why?, or, on the other hand, refer to objectives, functions or intentions. In this case, we will be answering to the question what for? We call these teleological explanations, from the
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  A TELEOLOGICAL THEORY OF EMOTIONS: APPLICATIONS IN PSYCOTHERAPY  Zenon Lotufo Jr. Francisco Lotufo Neto Causal and Teleological ExplanationsIn a very general way, when trying to explaina behavior, we may, in one hand, align factorsthat constitute the cause of such conduct, as if wecould answer to a question why? , or, on the other hand, refer to objectives, functions or intentions.In this case, we will be answering to the question what for? We call these teleological explanations, from the Greek  télos , which means  finality , objective (Hegemberg, 1969,Braithwaite, 1965).The causal explanations, in what concerns behavior disorders, have been the preference, asfar as they 1) avoid that it may blame theindividual (which is very desirable) and 2) favor the priorization and, sometimes, the exclusivityof interventions which are economically profitable (which is questionable) (Monteleone,2000).Causal and teleological approaches do notexclude mutually, that is, they may be equallytrue. We believe, however, as we will try todemonstrate that, from the point of view of facilitating changes in behavior, the teleological perspective offers very worthy advantages.Teleological explanations of emotionsThe first to call the attention to the objectivesof emotions was Charles Darwin, in a lesser-known book, published in 1872, and onlyrecently translated to Portuguese “ The Expression of Emotions in Men and Animals.” Coherent to his theory, he postulates that eachone of the emotions has a defined role in thesurvival as well as in the well-being of theindividual or the species. Going further, Darwintried to prove that the expression of emotions hasa very clear use for animals. Says Darwin: “…each movement of expression seems to havesome natural and independent srcin, but, oncethey are acquired, these movements may beapplied voluntary and consciously, as a means of communicating. Even children, if they arecarefully attended, discover at a very early agethat their screaming brings relief, and they startto use them voluntarily.” (Darwin, 1872/2000).As an example of this use, he mentionsexpressions related to fierceness – showing teeth,yelling or groaning. They initially had thecharacter of preparing for combat, but as itfrequently is the case, a simple display of thesesigns ended up intimidating and driving away theenemy, which is a very worthy advantage. Thisway, then become habitual and, with time,hereditary.Currently, the main person to propose atheory of emotions under Darwinian inspirationis Robert Plutchik, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Nova York. In his book ‘Emotion: aPsychoevolutionary Synthesis” he affirms thateach emotion is a behavior sequence, eachhaving a defined function based in itsevolutionary history (Plutchik, 1980a).Seconding his thesis, Plutchik cites observationsas the ones of the psychologist Donald Hebbwho, working with chimpanzees, at the YerkesRegional Primate Center in Atlanta, Georgia,registers: “The peculiar characteristic of atantrum crisis is the inclusion of clear attempts of   self-aggression : the child holds out the breath, pulls her hair, throws herself against the wall,while observes what effect it will cause in theadult who is denying her what she wants. Thereis a  purpose element which is also evident in theone-year-old chimpanzee, which glancessurreptitiously to its mother between its attacksof mortal choking or head-banging on the floor.”(Plutchik, 1980b)Important function of emotions: communicateAs we can see, one of the main functions of emotions is communicating, This function isknown by a considerable number of author,among who Klineberg (1967), Asch,   (1966 ), Saul (1956), Hillman (1991), Axline (1980),Szas (1979), Wlatlavsky, Bevin e Jackson(1981), Groddeck (1991), Beier e Valens (1976),Harris (1996), Hinton (1999), Turner (2000),Planalp (1999) are worth mentioning.One of the most interesting studies onemotional reactions as a way of communicationwas carried out at the Suffolk ChildDevelopment Center, in Long Island, New York, by the psychologists Edward Carr and Mark Durand. Working with autistic and mentallychallenged children, certain behaviors theydemonstrated called their attention: one wouldrepeatedly bang her head on the edge of a table,another one would violently try to injure her  professor; a third one (whose medical exams did 1  not indicate any reason for it) would scratchherself as far as hurting herself severely. Their conclusions: “Our research – as they write – hasconvinced us that these serious behavior  problems often are not acts with no purpose, butthey are rather primitive attempts of gettingthrough to others. In fact, the aggression towardsothers or against themselves, the tantrum attacksare, most of the times, the only efficient ways achild has of expressing its needs.” (Carr eDurand, 1987)Carr e Duran mentioned the works of the psychologists Silvia Bell and Mary Ainsworth – who related the babies’ crying tocommunication, showing that, the more the childcan communicate through facial expressions,gestures and speaking, the less it will cry – thework of Ivar Lovaas, psychologist at theUniversity of California, who suggests a childwith schizophrenia has often a self-destructive behavior because they are trying to ask for something that every child needs: attention. Asthey proceed: “Although most children we havestudied are autistic or mentally retarded, their  behavior problems also seem to be ways of communicating. We’ve found that these childrentend to be more aggressive or to hurt themselveswhen they are seeking for the attention of theadults or are trying to avoid unpleasantsituations. Their odd behavior is a way of saying ‘please pay attention to me’, or ‘please, don’t ask me to do that’. A relevant aspect of Carr and Durand’sfindings is that, when children are taught normalways of expressing their needs, they may give upon their abnormal behavior; when children aretrained to express – through speaking or gestures – what they want, the extravagant behavior reduces drastically.Discriminating: spontaneous andmanipulative emotions.A very important contribution from EricBerne (Berne, 1964; English, 1971), essential tothe comprehension of the human behavior fromour stand point, is the distinction of two kinds of emotions: a) the spontaneous, which we sharewith other people and, at great extent, withhigher mammals and b) the manipulative,learned through social interaction and generatedwith the main objective of communicating andcontrolling other people. The first only last aslong as what has caused it lasts; the others, particular of the human kind, may lastindefinitely, because we do not allow it to “cooloff” nor disappear (As far as we are interested,emotions caused by false information or mistaken interpretation of reality, are, to alleffects, spontaneous).The human being, unlike other animals, isable to carry emotions, which was once anadvantage. We do it through a process of mentalfeedback through images and internal dialogues.Besides, as we cultivate emotions artificially,they may become consistent and until they resultin totally inappropriate behaviors. This is particularly true in terms of anger.In a nutshell, here are the differences:Spontaneous Emotions:-they last while the stimulus lasts-are qualitative and quantitatively proportional to their stimulus - are important to our individual andcollective survival . Manipulative Emotions-are retro-fed by the own person-may last indefinitely-are used to manipulate others-are responsible for most of the humansufferingTaking the distinction into consideration, wemay also say that there are two different types of  psychological sufferings: the ones caused byspontaneous emotions and the ones created byour own selves through manipulative emotions.The ones of the second kind result from self-aggression and are a large portion of the humansuffering.Systemic View of the M.E.The family environment plays a relevant rolein the formation of our personality, of our mentalhabits and, thus, in the quality of life we willhave and the destiny of our lives.Comprehending our emotional reactions andourselves implies understanding how we learnhow to use our emotions with our relatives.Since the 1950s, with studies as the one byDr. Murray Bowen, at the time, a professor in psychiatry in the Medical Center of theUniversity of Georgetown, in Washington, agreat number of data have been accumulatingabout how the family environment influences theemotional and affective development of itsmembers. Although great part of theseresearches emphasize, in a special way, thesrcin of schizophrenia, it is increasingly evident 2  that the observations apply, mutatis mutandis , to all  families.Probably the most important result of thesestudies was the new way that people are facinghuman behavior and its disturbances. Individual problems started to be seen as a part of the process that involves all members of the family.The  systemic approach , as it was called, broadening the focus in order to comprise the patients’ relatives, has let us discover a newsense in the their attitudes. As of this point, newstrategies in psychotherapy that treat the familygroup as a whole and not only one of itsmembers started to arise. As a consequence of the good results, this is one of the areas of  psychology that developed the most in the lastfew years Kerr, 1988, Elkaím, 1990, SelviniPalazzoli, Boscolo e Prete, 1970).On the other hand, family therapy has anobvious limitation which is the difficulty of gathering all members of a family for a processof this nature. Not only there are personalresistances, but also many family members livein other localities, or have even passed away.It looks proper, then, not to limit the use of this knowledge to family or couple’s therapy; itcould be of great value in the treatment of individual problems when the rest of the family,for some reason, cannot be gathered. This familyapproach leads to the comprehension of howhabits are acquired in the heart of the family, andhow these habits harm the individual and thosewith whom they live.Different Types of Family EnvironmentTo our goals – and taking the two types of emotions into account – we will classify thefamily environments into two large groups,always bearing in mind that we will hardly findthe “pure” type of family. In fact, we are talkingabout two extremes of a continuum that, in eachfamily, leans toward one side or another. As amatter of fact, variations of position occur in thelong run as internal and external circumstancesimpose their influence. Therefore we have:- families entangled by artificial emotions(Type X)- families united by spontaneous emotions(Type Y)A Type-X family characterizes mostly for thestrong presence of theFalse Belief - “You are responsible for what  I feel and I am responsible for what you feel”. After reminding the reader that we are stilltalking about manipulative emotion, what wehave here is the material with which the threadsof net interconnect and tie one member of thefamily to another. In fact, it lies on a device thatgoes off automatically, causing guilt and anxietyat the smallest site of doubt over this net.It is worth mentioning one more time: we arenot responsible for the manipulative feelings of others; in their essence, they are the instrumentsof manipulation. However, we may beresponsible for spontaneous feeling. This topicis delicate because any type of community liferequires its members to take a certain amount of responsibility over one another. And this is validmay we be referring to our family, our church,our company, our nation, or even human kind asa whole. Taking responsibility, however, doesnot mean feeling guilty. I may not feel guilty for having unattended children around me,wandering around the streets, homeless, with nofood nor care. However I can’t help but feelresponsible for their fate. Guilt looks back andtends to produce artificial feelings; responsibilitylooks forward and bases itself on spontaneousfeelings.In the same line of thought, it is necessary toconsider that  suffering is suffering, be it “clean”or “contaminated. Knowing that someone issuffering due to manipulative emotions shouldn’tlead you undermine him/her nor disqualifyhis/her pain. Not very often, this is the only waya person – child or adult – finds to express itstrue needs. The question if  we can be much moreuseful when we avoid letting contramanipulative feelings govern our attitudes. It is also not the case to feel at ease to say or do (or neglect to do) to others whatever one pleases, under the assumption that “each one isliable for their own feelings” (Taken to the lastconsequences, this thesis leads to a wildindividualism with nasty repercussions over  people and the societies)Personal growth, which may be reach as we better deal with out own emotions, is only a truegrowth when it frees us to be more sensitive tothe needs of others, more available to aspontaneous love, uncontaminated by artificialfactors.What’s the use?Few things are so important in our lives as arestable relationships with the people who areimportant to us. We need to feel loved and 3  secure that this love will last for all time. Itwould be ideal that love was seen as somethingunconditional, as if we were constantlyexchanging in messages like: “I love you because you exist” or “The fact that you existenriches my life” (which is very different from“You are responsible for my happiness.”) Inorder to feel safe, it is important that the peopleinvolved show themselves to be emotionallystable and bearing values of beliefs that praiseharmonious relationships. But, more importantthan anything else, the own individual needs tosee him/herself as someone worthy of being loved. One who has grown in an environmentunfavorable to the evolution of a favorableconcept about its own value, in a place wherehe/she felt rejected or valued only for its efforts(not for  being  but for doing), this person will probably feel unworthy of being loved simplyfor what they are, for existing. His/her great problem, then, will be: “How can I feel safe inthis relationship?” It is rather visible that the possibility of anyone loving this person for him/herself is absolutely out of the question.Therefore, he/she needs to come up with netsthat allow him/her to tie and control others insome way. Their alternatives may be based onideas such as:“If he/she feels sorry for me, then he/shewon’t leave me.”“If he/she is afraid of me, he/she won’t leaveme.”“If he/she depends on me, he/she won’t leaveme”“If he/she feels grateful for me, he/she willnot let me down.”In other words, it is the conviction of being able to provoke emotions on others that givesthem the sensation of security that this personneeds so much. Of course, in these terms, the relationshipswill be inevitably unsatisfactory, when not reallystormy. It is probably an environment such asthis that Jules Rennard’s title-character boy“Poil-de-Carotte” refers to when he claims“Family is a bunch of people who hate oneanother and are doomed to live together”.Therefore, if one of the members of thecouple or family simple stops contra-manipulating, that is, to respond emotionally tothe manipulation this person is the target of, it isnot strange that this provokes a boom in theintensity of emotion of the other(s), resulting,mostly, from the fear that this connection could be broken. It will take time and persistence torealize that this relationship is not based onthreats but, rather, it will become more solidand more satisfactory once the strategies of control are put aside.Advantages of the teleological explanationThe great advantage of a teleologicalexplanation in regards to causal explanations of  behavior is the favoring of the conscience thatone has of being able to take control over their emotions and behavior. The teleological perspective, when conceptualizing the emotionaldisturbance – and demonstrating the dynamics of the process – as something generated inside theown being (and not as something caused byfactors that this person cannot control) maycontribute substantially so that this control beactually reached. (Banmdura, 1997)Discriminating: Responsibility and GuiltIt is of utmost importance, for the therapy to be successful, that one knows the difference between being responsible for their own behavior (and life) and being  guilty for it.In therapy of people whose self-esteem isseverely damaged, to attribute them theresponsibility that whatever is going wrong mayeven worsen the situation. Putting responsibilityon the “subconscious” or on the “ego” (as someoriental lines of thinking may say), or, as theTransactional Analysis may say, in an “inner child”, may be a useful resource as a way of showing that their problems may be the result of their won attitudes and behavior, at the sametime that it avoids making them feel guilty. Thetherapy will be guided, therefore, to thecomprehension and modification of these factors – which are internal but strangers to the real I(Horney, 1966). It is possible to treat some psychological disturbances – as it is the case of most phobias – through techniques or drugs,only, without interfering on the personality  per  se. In most cases, however, there cannot be a personal growth without investments in themodifications of the personality, what, in turn,implies questionings about values and taking responsibility , that is, taking over control.The three objectives of manipulativeemotionsWe generate emotions in ourselves withthree types of objectives.a) Obtaining something from someone. Theemotion generated aims at asking for things likehelp, protection, care attention, support, 4
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