Archive for February, 2006

Metaphorical Concepts of Energy

Ever since reading about the metaphorical concept “Love is a Physical Force” in Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By, I have tuned in (there’s another one!) to the use of physics in the (supposedly) dead metaphors of our language.  The examples that Lakoff and Johnson offer include “I could feel the electricity between us”, “I was magnetically drawn to her”, “They are attracted to each other” and the like.  As I have suggested in previous posts, my exploration into “energonomics” points to there being something more to such usage than mere comparison.  I want to suggest that there is actual energy transferred among individuals, and I’m interested in any science that tries to identify and trace such energy transfer.  While it is possible that some of the more speculative new-age concepts of “energy healing” and “energy fields” surrounding the body are actual phenomena unmeasurable with current scientific instrumentation, I am interested in what can actually be said to be scientifically true, given what we know via current science.

What prompted this entry today is a book I’m reading today by a famous Japanese novelist, Shusaku Endo.  The book is actually a non-fiction account of Christ titled A Life of Jesus.  Something about the book (can’t find the passage right now) made me think of Jesus as a magnetic personality, and I remembered some basic science project whereby when you coil electrical wire and run electricity through it, the coil generates a magnetic field, creating an electromagnet.  So my question becomes this:  how is it that Jesus was “wired” such that the energy flowing through him creates a “magnetic” personality which attracted so many followers?

If the mention of Jesus and therefore the invocation of religion is distracting for you, think of any “magnetic” personality who led a movement:  Hitler, M.L. King, whoever. 

Endo mentions other phrases that I tuned in to:  he speaks of how the death of John the Baptist “generates waves” which were to “affect his favorite disciple Jesus” (36) and how despite his death the rebellious “sentiments of the common people. . . remained in force like burning coals” (40). 

If you start to pay attention, you’ll begin to see this language everywhere.  I’m hoping that the concept of energonomics leads us to consider what is actually, scientifically happening within and among people when such social phenomena occur.


12 February 2006 at 9:46 am Leave a comment

Half Full or Half Empty?

I am continuing my investigation into positive psychology by starting to read Half Full, Half Empty:  Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism by Susan C. Vaughan (who I think is mentioned in Seligman’s Learned Optimism, but I’ll have to check on that).  She mentions a number of the same experiments that Seligman does, but she starts to delve into the “roots” as her title suggests by considering the impact of parents as “external regulator[s] of the structure and neurochemistry of the child’s maturing brain” (62-63). 

The point she makes is a simple one:  children learn how to be optimists or pessimists, how to regulate their moods and control their emotions, from their parents.  The environment in which they grow, as we now know very well, that shapes how the brain grows and therefore lays the groundwork of its potential to be successful in the world.  The early years from birth to three are critical for growing brains.  Social scientists have known it for decades, and now neuroscientists confirm these common-sense findings:  providing an enriching environment for infants is an investment in the future.  I think we’re called “human capital” in the lingo of capitalism.  However you want to look at it, channeling energy (the goal of energonomics) into programs like head-start and parent-training will save money in the long run.

This suggests that money is a form of stored energy.  I will have more to say about that in a future post.

7 February 2006 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

Social Neuroscience

I picked up Laughter:  A Scientific Investigation by Robert R. Provine this evening and read through the intro and the chapter on “Contagious Laughter and the Brain.”  I am interested in why laughter improves health as well as the neurological mechanism for contagion.  My investigation into “energonomics” suggests that contagious behavior is a form of energy flow from one human to another and is therefore appropriate to  the “management of energy.”  In fact, given the discussion of “holy laughter” and the phenomenon of “laughing revivals” among charismatic churches which work to overcome their participants with laughter.

The intro of this book mentions “social neuroscience,” which sounded like an emerging field that might address the energonomic possibilities of particular behaviors studied as evolutionary adaptation.  A quick google-search yielded an article by Beth Azar titled “At the Frontier of Science” [published in the APA’s Monitor on Psychology 33.1 (January 2002)], which features “one of the fastest growing research areas in psychology” and which includes work by “social psychologists, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, anthropologists, neurologists and sociologists who are collaborating in the hopes of understanding social behavior from the perspective of the brain.”  I’m off to read!

1 February 2006 at 9:38 pm 1 comment

February 2006
« Jan   Mar »