The Material Basis of Feelings

 Argos de Arruda Pinto


You are anxious. A deep anguish makes you as if you had lost one familiar member. All, except happy is the state in which you find yourself. You are recommended by your doctor to take one ansiolitic and that's all: you, in like manner as a wonder, turn to smile again, your emotions stabilize and the wish to live rises to the top. And what did you take? Chemical substances!

Some-one else feels depressed. Worse: sorrowfulness, self-pity, the transient incapability to find delight at all, may destroy this person. Walking out, meeting friends, to go for sports, don't take any effect. Not even any wish for these things he has. The adequate use of antidepressive and his life changes radically in a short time. His negative sentiments cease in intensity and his emotional structure is restored. His humor and well-being for life again become into part of his everyday living. And what did he take? Chemical substances!

These two instances, amidst so many others, in a simple manner enlighten the curative power of certain substances. They actuate on the cellular level, on the neurons, thereby acting on the visible behavior displayed by people through their sentiments and emotions.

Neurons receive nerve signals from axons of other neurons. delivered to dendrites (1). The signals generated by a neuron are carried away from its cell body (2), which contains the nucleus (2a), the storehouse of genetic information. Axons (3) are the main conducting unit of the neuron. The axon hillock (2b) is the site at which the cell's signs are initiated. Schwann cells (6), which are not a part of a nerve cell, but one of the types of glial cells, perform the important function of insulating axons by wrapping their membranous processes around the axon in a thight spiral, forming a myelin sheath (7), a fatty, white substance which helps axons ransmit messages faster than unmyelinated ones.The myelin is broken at various points by the nodes of Ranvier (4), so that in cross-section it looks rather like a string of sausages. Branches of  the axon of one neuron (the presynaptic neuron) transmit signals to another neuron (the postsynaptical cell) at a site called the synapse (5). The branches of a single axon may form synapses with as many
as 1000 other neurons.
Neurons are the constituting brain-cells of the nervous system. For one nervous impulse go from one neuron to another - the sinapse - it is necessary amidst them the presence of substances that are called neurotransmitters. In this process reflexes may occur for definite regions in our body, whereby we feel the sensation that we feel was stirred in the very place. One tightening in our chest due to some passion led our forefathers to admit that the seat of our feelings in matters of love was in our heart… 

Depression is characterized trough a low neuronic activity due to the absence of substances of this type, such as, for example, serotonina. The ansiolitic works by augmenting the effect of neurotransmitter which inhibit the nervous response, like the gama-aminobutírico acid - GABA. Anxiety is then, in general, an emotion state in the which the neurons get to the top of their activities.

All of that is well known among the doctors and very little by the public. Few are the reports, books or information, relating this whole chemistry to our sentiments. Scientists since long decades have been discovering for our wellfare, in the shape of medicaments, the relationship amidst neurotransmitters, neuro-eletric connection, feelings and emotions. Either of the latter would be excited into the brain due to outward or inward stimuli, with a view to perpetuation of the species after Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

We wouldn't make up families, societies, and so on, were not the immense varieties of sentiments which fall to us, which form potent links adjoining us with our fellowmen.

For one bare example, love and affection, consequently the parents dedication to their children enlighten in a clear manner this bond among them.

We are born quite defenseless against the adversities of the outward world. Not only humans, but also the other animals and the fowl are evolved enough to care for their young ones during months and years till these are mature sufficiently to meet with their surrounding world. Aggressiveness and fear likewise as a kind of self-defense are important in this fight for survival and they too are parts into the intrinsical chemic reactions-net into the brain of these living-beings which are the most complex ones in our planet.

The fish, the reptiles, the amphibian and the lower class animals are already born in a favorable condition to struggle for surviving, not having, or at least having one underdeveloped cerebral region that is denominated limbic system. It is this system the main responsible for our emotions and feelings.

Man has already accomplished trough natural stimulation on the limbic system to cause people come to exaggerated sentimentalism, with the result that these found it an inexplicable type of a behavior. In aggressive animals, the simple removal of one limbic portion denominated amígdala, make these become docile and calm ones. In an opposite situation, the stimulation on the function of the amígdala made one domestic animal come to a state of terror, of an abnormal intense agitation, without any real motivation whatever.

The objects of search by sciences are those phenomena felt by our senses, sometimes by means of laboratorial especific equipments, which we can understand them afterwards in a rational and objective manner. Phenomena regarded as manifestation of our soul have been systematically researchead as powerfull chemical interactions, which can carry people from slight and fleeting states of gladness or sadness up to uncontrolable fits of passion and to love-affection.

sistema límbico.

Our brain is a compound of number of sinaptics combinations which surpass the number of atom in the known universe. The number of mental states is then too large, but it's obvious that we are not affected by all of them. Notwithstanding this, the remaining is in so far considerable to the point that the brain enters into overfull states of complexity and singularity, thus making itself into a spring from those situations now negative, and then positive, which we call them emotions and sentiments.

For a great many this sounds like pure materialism, but, in truth, the christian philosofers and theologians, among others and in non-advanced ages in technology, medicine, chemistry and related sciences, they ascribed to supernatural causes that which these disciplines have been discovering nowadays in relation to brain-chemistry. And the results of these ascriptions were passed from generation to generation up to us as incontestable and untouchable.

If some chemical substances deeply alter our sentiments, then all of which is regarded as supernatural, mainly our conceptions about soul and spirit, should, in the long run, undergo some modifications about their influences on our mind and body. The future of sciences will be that to find out far they are affected by all that is not supernatural.

The Author
Argos de Arruda Pinto Physicist -
Rua Antonio Jacinto, 510, Santa Rita do Passa Quatro-SP.
13.670.000 -
Tel: 19-582-5856(residência) - 19-582-3808(empresa).

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