Emotions, Desires, Instincts and Drives


By Richard Kieninger


The complex interplay of emotions, desires, instincts and drives which motivates our actions and influences our thoughts can probably be better understood by sorting out the components according to their respective origins.


The animal component of man’s nature—his body—im­poses a set of biological drives which set him into motion. Drives are essential to survival, and the most basic of these drives is hunger. The depletion of food substances in the body Leads to a state of unrest so that one engages in activity to find and eat food; and when the body is replenished, the drive is gratified. The sex drive is the result of an urgent need to re­lieve a set of tissue tensions brought about in animals by wholly chemical mechanisms. The cyclical hormonal nature of the females of all the different animal species starts a series of changes in her organs including the release of a male-­attracting pheromone. When the male of the species smells the specific pheromone, it triggers in him a set of hormonal re­sponses which result in physiological tissue tensions and organ pressures. In human beings, pheromones are absent, but the same hormonal responses are set into motion by a psychologi­cal trigger. The sexual attraction between animals is mechani­cal; whereas the human Ego is attracted to an Ego of the opposite sexual polarity by a “magnetism” of the fourth plane of existence. The last of the basic drives is avoidance of painful stimuli and the corollary seeking of pleasurable stimuli.


Instincts are hereditary knowledge of complicated be­havior sequences passed from one generation to the next by genetically carried synaptic brain patterns. An instinct pro­vides an appropriate activity to satisfy a drive. Some instincts are seen in migratory activity, egg deposition techniques, ma­ternal behavior, mating rituals, etc. The human vehicle has been deprived of all instincts save the fear of falling and an aggravated startle response to loud noise.


Desire is one of the characteristics of Mind, which is an energy of the fourth plane of existence, and therefore de­sire is beyond the animal level of experience. Animals func­tion like preprogrammed machines in accordance with their built-in drives and instincts. We human beings tend to project into animal behavior our own familiar human motivations. A cat’s cuddling to get contact pleasure we interpret as loving-ness. A dog’s association of food source with its master we interpret as loyalty. An animal’s striving to receive petting when another animal or person is already receiving petting from its master, plus the competitiveness for that petting if it is not shared, we ascribe to jealousy. Animals have an As­tral Body as do men, but an animal’s astral aura does not register the animal’s responses to stimuli or the nature of its brain function in the way that a man’s mental activity and emotional nature are revealed by his aura. Because man’s Astral Body is frequently referred to in metaphysical litera­ture as his “Desire Body,” people might erroneously infer that because an animal has an Astral Body, it too has desires. The astral aura is merely the reflection of emotions and not their source. Emotions stem from Mind Power and as such are completely absent in animal behavior. Emotions are inherent in Egoic consciousness; and animals have no consciousness of their existence, no concept of time, and no foreknowledge of their eventual death. Animals may feel pain, for instance, but human beings can add the emotions of anguish and dread whereby they can vastly increase the intensity of pain.


Emotions in their broadest meaning refer to a stirred-up state of the mind and body which is reflected in three ways: (1) emotional feeling which motivates (2) emotional behavior frequently accompanied by (3) physiological changes. Inten­sity of the feeling can range from barely noticed tinges for but a moment to powerful passions of long duration. Anger may vary from mild vexation to violent rage; joy, from plea­sant contentment to wild ecstasy. Emotions in themselves can be pleasant or unpleasant and can excite one to action or depress one to withdrawal. The following are emotions which are reserved to man as a result of his Mind, and no animal has ever experienced them: joy, grief, anger, fear, guilt, shame, remorse, pride, misery, loneliness, awe, wonder, love, hate, pity, revulsion, horror, delight, self-consciousness, jeal­ousy and envy. The first four are the so-called primary emo­tions since they are the first to appear in the development of a child and seem least the result of conditioning.


Joy. The essential condition for joy is that the person striving toward a goal attains it. The intensity of the joy depends upon the degree of tension which had built up in the person in the course of pursuing the goal, the importance of the goal, the difficulty of the pursuit, and the suddenness of its achievement.


Anger. The essential condition for anger is the blocking of goal attainment, especially where there is a persistent frus­tration of attainment with the accumulation of tension. Ex­asperation gives way to anger if the frustration is prolonged, eventually reaching rage or fury. If the person sees his own shortcomings as the frustrating agent, he develops a self-de­structive hostility; if he sees an obstacle or other person thwarting him, he can develop hatred toward that agent and even be compelled to aggressively destroy the obstacle or per­son.


Fear. The essential condition for fear is the perception of a dangerous object or condition that threatens one. A key seems to be the lack of capability of the person to handle the threat. Animals know no fear. Instead, they instinctively avoid close situations, and they perpetuate identification of their enemies by sensing since infancy the contagious panic in others of their own kind. Unfamiliar creatures introduced in­to a species’ environment are likely to be regarded with little response as long as they keep their distance. A human being tends to respond to changes with anxiety and apprehension until experience allows him to become habituated to the new situation.


Grief. The essential condition for grief is the loss of something sought or valued. The intensity depends upon the value, and there are all shades ranging from merest disappoint­ment to a profound bereavement of long duration with un­bearable tension.