Emotional Aliens Among Us! Neon Green ALERT!
by phil on Wednesday Jan 21, 2004 2:05 PM
How many aliens are among us?
How many humans, while having the visual appearances of standard humans, have an alien, inner-human?
Fortunately, we do have a definition for the "standard" human. Psychologists have come up with Maslow's Ladder of 5 Basic Needs and a list of 5 Basic Emotions: guilt, hate, shame, revenge, love (Source).
However, there must be human emotions and needs that are unnamed and even undiscovered. For I'm skeptical that all these 6 billion humans only have combinations of these short five generalities.
My recent observations on people have also given me hope that there is an emotional frontier unexplored within ourselves.
Today I was walking through campus during 11AM rush-hour. As I was walking near people, I picked someone out and got a good look at their face. After I passed them by, I then mimicked their expression. Simulating their physical mannerisms also simulated their mood. After my emotions were in sync with my target's, I then tried to label what I was feeling.
After a few attempts, labelling became difficult. The mannerisms I was mimicking and the subsequent feelings I had were foreign to me. I frequently felt this when mimicking girls. The only way I can describe their emotions is as a "floaty sense of tripping over daisies combined with hope, earnestness, and desperation." I can't relate what I was feeling to any previous experience.
I then ceased trying to describe how I felt; my words and their associated connotations were ruining my observations. I tried, instead, to really feel feel their emotions. Instead of simply observing joy, which is just three letters, j-o-y, I tried to traverse the continuous mountain of information packed into the feeling itself.
After walking for five minutes with this perspective, I got the sense that the landscape of emotions out there is diverse and unlike what I've encountered personally. 5 Basic Emotions and 5 Basic Needs felt like an insult to the richness of our inner architecture.
If I were to continue doing this in earnest, my hunch is that I would discover aliens among humans. I would find emotional creatures living inside us as diverse and as strange as the animal kingdom. And when I stumble upon these unfamiliars, the Philosophist will have his fun.