Wednesday, July 02, 2008

That sick empty feeling

Do you understand to what I am referring when I sat "that sick empty feeling"?

There are both physiological and cognitive aspects to the emotion.

I mean to say there is definitely something happening physiologically, involving the release of various hormones as regulated by various organs in the brain and elsewhere. I could talk about that a bit more in depth--I had to study it enough over the last 4 years getting the psychology degree.

But the more interesting thing is the question of the cognitive attribution, or misattribution, of that physiological stuff. As it turns out, we are *not* super good at understanding ourselves, in various ways. One of these ways is understanding what is *causing* the physiological stuff we call emotion. For instance, it's relatively easy to trick people into believing that the physiological stuff they are experiencing as a reaction to exposure to perceived physical danger, like walking on a really high up suspension bridge across a deep gorge, is actually a .... romantic/sexual attraction to a member of the opposite sex. Which is to say that such a suspension bridge is a relatively excellent place to pick up guys or girls.

In light of all that, I'm wondering to what extent my own current ongoing experience of that sick empty feeling in what in the common vernacular is referred to as "the pit of my stomach" is related to the death of my mother last week, and to what extent the experience is related to my current status as university graduate who is seeking a job and feels like he has no actual place in the world where he belongs and wonders if he'll ever have an actual income again. I suspect most of the feeling is caused by those two things, but sorting out how much is caused by which is a bit of a challenge.

Not that it would make it any easier to know, really. That old insatiable love of learning/quest for understanding things seems to still operate with it's invariable efficiency, despite the rather powerful ongoing experience of negative emotion. =)


Megs said...

i love you my precious Bens - thank you so much for your honesty. I embalm you with love in your achy stomach pit. love megs, your megs

brooke said...

aha, now i've found this blog - and yes, i can relate more than you know. i talked to my pastor about how i experience that 'empty sick feeling' - which for me, rather than feeling that way, i have this ability to feel all the sadness in the world. i mean, it is coupled with other stuff, including loneliness and wondering if i'll ever fit into the world. but my pastor pointed out to me that this feeling all the sadness in the world is something similar to what christ felt. it really hasn't made me feel any better, just in better company ;). anyhow, my point? i know it, and i also know it sucks. but the little i've read of your writings so far - you actually care about the world, and that is huge. don't ever let the empty sick feeling stop that. :)

Seren Rose said...

Have you ever read Jeanette Winterson's "Oranges are not the only fruit"? There is a hilarious story in that when her mother mistakes a stomach ulcer for true love.