Today I read a great Antonio Damasio interview in which he distinguishes between emotions and feelings, the first coming out of sensation and giving birth to the latter.
“There are certain action programs that are obviously permanently installed in our organs and in our brains so that we can survive, flourish, procreate, and, eventually, die. This is the world of life regulation—homeostasis.”
I’ve always wondered why emotional events play such havoc on our basic functions – sleep, metabolism – and how a loss or betrayal can usher in a fight or flight response.
“We must separate the component that comes out of actions (emotion) from the component that comes out of our perspective on those actions, which is feeling. Curiously, it’s also where the self emerges, and consciousness itself.”
I stumbled upon a playful rendering of this concept today in Maria Irene Fornes’ play, Fefu and her friends.
Cindy: When a person is swept off their feet. . . the feet remain and the person goes off. . . with the broom?
Christina: No. . . when a person is swept off their feet. . . there is no broom.
Cindy: What does the sweeping?
Christina: An emotion. . . a feeling. . .
Cindy: Then emotions have bristles?