Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pulutchik's Psycho-Evolutionaly theory of Emotion

Robert Plutchik was a psychologist who developed a psycho-evolutionary theory of emotion. Learn more about Plutchik's theory, the wheel of emotions, primary emotions, and dyads.

Evolutionary Theory of Emotions

When we think about our emotions, we tend to think of them solely as states of feeling. For example, we may describe happiness as the state of feeling joy or pleasure. Psychologist Robert Plutchik states that there are eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. Plutchik created the wheel of emotions, which illustrates the various relationships among the emotions. 

While Plutchik identifies only eight basic emotions, you can see from the wheel that there are many different degrees, creating a wide spectrum of emotions. Plutchik states that emotions are much more complex than most people realize.

Emotions have a long evolutionary history. They are not only adaptive, but they have evolved over time in order to increase our reproductive fitness. Emotion plays an important role in issues of survival, and it involves both cognition and behavior.

For example, let's say that you were approached by a snake (threatening event). You would conclude that you were in danger (cognition), which would cause you to feel fear (emotion). Your fear activates the fight-or-flight response. As a result, you slowly back away from the snake in an attempt to escape (goal-directed behavior).

Robert Plutchik developed 10 postulates on which his evolutionary theory of emotions is based:

1 Animals and Humans: Animals and humans both experience the same basic emotions in similar ways.

2 Evolutionary History: Emotions appeared as a result of evolution. Emotions were present in animals even before apes evolved.

3 Survival Issues: Emotions have evolved over time in order to increase the chances of survival in the environment. For example, trust results in collaboration and sharing between humans.

4 Prototype Patterns: Although there are several types of emotions that are present in different species, there are prototype patterns, or common elements, that are identifiable.

5 Basic Emotions: A relatively small number of prototype, primary emotions, or basic emotions exist and can be identified.

6 Combinations: All other emotions occur as a result of a mixture, or combination, of the basic emotions. For example, love is a combination of joy (primary emotion) and trust (primary emotion).
7 Hypothetical Constructs: It is recognized that primary emotions are hypothetical constructs or idealized states, which we describe in terms of their particular properties and characteristics. These descriptions can only be inferred based on several kinds of evidence.

8 Opposites: The primary emotions are categorized into pairs of polar opposites.

9 Similarity: All emotions have different degrees of similarity to one another.

10 Intensity: Each emotion can vary in its level of intensity.

Plutchik's Eight Basic Emotions

As we stated earlier, Plutchik's eight basic emotions are joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. Each primary emotion also has a polar opposite, so that:
Joy is the opposite of sadness.
Fear is the opposite of anger.
Anticipation is the opposite of surprise.
Disgust is the opposite of trust.

Plutchik created the wheel of emotions in order to illustrate the various relationships among the emotions.

The intensity of emotion decreases as you move outward and increases as you move toward the wheel's center. The intensity of the emotion is indicated by the color. The darker the shade, the more intense the emotion. For example, anger at its least level of intensity is annoyance. At its highest level of intensity, anger becomes rage.

Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead

My annual pilgrimage to the National Museum of Mexican Art for their Day of the Dead (explained below) and then out to dinner afterwards.

By Michael Horvich

Day of the Dead in Mexico represents a mixture of Christian devotion and Pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs. During the pre-Hispanic era, death did not exist. Death was seen, instead, as simply a transition, a voyage through time and space towards true life.

The celebrations take place on two days. The souls of the dead children arrive on October 31st. As they depart on November 1st, their place is taken by the souls of the adults.

On these days, the deceased are believed to receive divine permission to visit friends and relatives on earth and to share the pleasure of living once again.

While the deceased are represented in skeletal form, the celebrations are not macabre, but rather portrayed with love, humor, and affections by both artists and participants.

On both days, the living and the dead are reunited at grave sites and home alters that are adorned with flowers, candles, sugar skulls (Calaveras,) skeleton figures, and the favorite food and drink of the departed.

The altar includes four main elements of nature: 1) Earth is represented by food and it is believed that the souls are fed by the aroma of food. 2) Wind is represented by a moving object, usually tissue paper flags (Papel Picado.) 3) Water is represented by a glass of water for the souls to quench their thirst after the long journey to the alter. 4) Finally, fire is represented by wax candles, one for each soul remembered and an extra one for the forgotten soul.

The dead are never forgotten because once a year they take their places beside the living to enjoy their love and the fruits and flowers of the earth.

Edited from:
-Mary J. Andrade,
-Jeffry Weiss, Arte Popular Miniaturas, Puerto  

 Villarta, Mexico

He Lived. He Loved. He Died.

Not sure where it will end up as I write this post. I am writing it based on a few thoughts that showed up last night as I was saying goodnight to Gregory.

Often when I first think of Gregory, I see him in his bed on the fifth floor memory care unit at the Lieberman Center shortly after he died. Having received a call from Manny that Gregory had "taken his last breath," I arrive at the room, door closed with a blue dove on yellow sign posted to inform staff that he has passed.

I entered the room sad but unafraid. The tears flowed and I commented out loud to myself (and maybe to Gregory if he was listening,) "Oh Gregory. You were finally able to do it! As you used to say, 'You finally found your way out while the rest of us are still looking,' I am happy for you."

I sat down and held his hand which was still warm. I kissed him on the mouth. I put my nose close to his and inhaled deeply, trying to catch any last spirit that may be lingering.

These poems. which I had read previously, from friend Kate Swafter (diagnosed herself with Dementia;) were my motivation.

Last Breath
Remember when the times comes
To breath in very deep
Take my very last breath
And make it your own.

Somewhere in the distance
The sun is still shining.

Less now, but often, when I first think of Gregory before preparing to drift off to sleep, this is the image that fills my mind: Gregory dead. It used to be very painful but now it is less so.

Last night, same image, but with these thoughts: "He lived. He loved. He died. We all do!" So why should I be so upset? I miss him, I am lonely without him, I miss sharing my life with him; but he only did what everyone does and was just able able to do it before I was able to do so.

For some reason, thinking about death as "only normal" makes me feel better. Gregory's death itself, over three days, was peaceful but he did spend twelve years (that we know of) preparing for that moment. 

And he prepared for that day, starting on the day we received the diagnosis, with his usual approach: joyful, loving, compassionate, calm, giving, supportive.

That is not to say that he was not at times frustrated and angry or that we did not cry and rock arm in arm. But for the most part, he lived well with Dementia/Alzheiemr's

As I have said many times, "He was not a victim of Alzheimer's, he was a hero!"

The more I think about it, and the more that people share their throughs with me, the more I realize what a good person Gregory has always been.

Maybe it is just a measure of the passage of time; but I cannot really recall any time in our 41 year relationship when he was mean, or spiteful, or jealous, or hurtful, or vengeful, or resentful, or gossipy, or judgmental, or any other negative one can think of.

He lived, he loved, and he died. Nothing more. Nothing less. And he did so well! An example for all of us. An example for me as I carry his last breath with me in all I do!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Festival Acceptance #56

QCinema's 18th Annual LGBTQ Film Festival November 10-12, 2016 in Fort Worth has just welcomed ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story to their film festival!

Another Award!!!

Congratulations! Your film ALZHEIMER’S: A LOVE STORY won the Jury Award for Best Short Film at TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival!
Here’s the jury statement:
"ALZHEIMER’S: A LOVE STORY (Monica Petruzzelli & Gabe Schimmel, USA, 2016) is a beautiful, tender, intimate portrait of a man loving, and caring for, his longtime partner with Alzheimers for the past 11 years. As the ways they express love and compassion for each other's changes, their ability to show up for each other continues to matter. A truly impressive effort, especially for a student film project, that exemplifies the power of the documentary form."

Another Screening

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Dream for All Dreams

This morning I woke up a little early, lie in bed contemplating life, and decided to turn over and go back to sleep for a little while. No, not a comment on my life contemplations but rather it felt good to be in bed with the sun beginning to peek in and with no obligations at all for the day.

My decision was rewarded with one of my wonderful, full color, exquisite detail, full sound and music, beautiful lighting, dreams. I think that while I have had many such dreams, this one would have to be placed towards the top of my list.

Have a peaked your interest? I hope I can describe the experience as well as I experienced it!

The dream takes place in a restaurant, bar, nightclub. Gay or gay friendly. Darkly lit. A little smoky,  not from cigarettes but rather so darkly lighted and decorated that the impression you get is one of being in a special, secluded, exclusive, expensive place.

I am sitting at the bar having a glass of wine. I had asked the older bartender woman about their whites and she ran the list from memory. I asked for a "taste" of the Pino Grigio.

She brought me a full glass (bistro glass vs stemmed one,) popped it down on the bar in front of me, and said good naturedly and smiling, "Taste all you want, you still have to pay for it!"

A man sitting next to me, good looking and somewhere in his twenties to forties, and I spoke for a while and he flirted with me. I enjoyed the flirtation and the possibility of a hook up later, which he implied as he left to visit with some other friends who had just arrived.

Suddenly a group of at least six drag queens; all in different style but matching pattern, color and material dresses; swoop into the room accompanied by loud Abba type music, with bright lights and mirrorballs causing the room to become a rainbow of color and excitement.

The performers are staged all around the room interacting with the various seated groups but presenting a unified, choreographed, musical, piece which holds together quite well. Apparently the evening's show had begun. 

Next my attention is back at the bar where I am eating my dinner:  T-Bone steak grilled medium-well; baked potato with sour cream, chives, and butter; and lettuce wedge with blue cheese, red onion, and crumbled bacon waiting to be eaten at the end of my meal. Need I say, DELICIOUS!

The next part of the dream is a little confusing as to why it even takes place in this setting but bring on the best part!

The entertainment is over and the room is once again dark, dimly lit, and feeling a little smoky. I notice that over in a far corner there are several men with two or three tigers, a black bear, and a brown bear cub. 

The animals are apparently trained and under control and present no threat. I decide to be brave and approach them, asking if I may pet the tigers. I receive the go ahead.

Before long the three tigers and I have bonded and we are "playing." It begins with simple petting and then elevates.

I feel their warm fir and the pressure of their bodies against mine as we tumble on the floor. I can feel the rough lick of their tongues on my face and the strength of their teeth as they nip but do not hurt. I can feel them head butting and rubbing their snouts against mine.

I ask the wait person (female) to please take some photographs of the cats and me with her phone as I had forgotten mine at home (actually I did forget my cell phone earlier when I went out for dinner.) Would she please e-mail the photographs to me.

I remember thinking that I'll probably get cat hair all over the navy blue blazer which I was wearing but discount the thought as, "Who cares!"

Suddenly the two bears join the party. The black one is not huge but none-the-less large. The brown one is a pup. For a while the event has turned into a "Michael Sandwich" and I am luxuriating in the experience: its feel, its smell, and just the possibility and joy of it happening. 

With that I wake up and out loud comment, "Wow!" Briefly I wonder if I ever hooked up with the good looking kid. Briefly I think that maybe some day I will get to pet a fully grown tiger. Wouldn't that be wonderful? It was always a wish of Gregory's and maybe someday I was have the experience for real for both of us.



12th Early Bird Festival of Bulgaria. This is very exciting as we continue to sweep across Europe! Some of the stats? 163 films from 47 countries. 1330+ submitters from 90+ countries! The festival program will be presented in cinema halls of the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts "Krastyo Sarafov", 108 A.S. Radovski str. and Cultural Center G8, 8 William Gladstone str.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Dream of Moving On

Together, Gregory and I had been working the land, somewhere in what felt like Japan.

We anticipated buying the property and the owner and Gregory were measuring the square footage using a primitive method which included dragging a rock on a string around the perimeter of the property from corner to corner after having marked the corners with a primitive rocking device.

As we walked the perimeter, I periodically was able to see that now and then there were underground caves or dwellings. I could not really make out what their purpose was or exactly what they looked like from the inside.

The cost to purchase the land was already in the owner's mind based on his love for us but the measuring was a ceremony that needed to be completed. Ten thousand dollars is what he told us. We could easily afford the price.

For some reason Gregory went silent and retreated to an underground cave on the property. He decided that we could not go forward with the purchase but would not explain his reasoning.

Next we are in a truck traveling away to someplace. I do not know where we were going but that we were leaving the property purchase opportunity.

Somehow, Gregory is on the outside of the truck controlling it as we drive down a steep road. I suggest that I could help from the inside and do so taking over the steering.

The steep road has caused  the speed of the truck to pick up dangerously. I steer as the truck careens down the road narrowly missing other vehicles.

Finally I am able to break and get the truck back under control. Gregory is furious with me. I realize that I could have put the truck in low gear to help it better descend but had forgotten to do so and therefore the near miss.

I wake up with tears in my eyes. Working with Gregory so closely (even though he was angry with me) had felt so beautiful that waking up back in my real world saddened me.

My body ached from the work I had just done while sleeping and I lie with tears in my eyes.

My pain and tears continue as I lie awake. I come to this realization. I am "suffering" because of desire something I cannot have (to be with Gregory again) and about which I can do nothing. So I sit with my suffering recognizing that  the reality is that I miss him, am sad, and am suffering.

And it is OK to sit with the emotions. (Thank you Buddhism for allowing me to able to do this.)

Then I get the feeling that Gregory needs to move on with his own work in death, as I do in life, and I am keeping him back. I do not want to let go but realize I must.

We can no longer work together but must go our separate ways. I call out, "I cannot let you go."

And he answers (if only in my mind,) "But I will always be nearby if you need me!"

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