Human babies are born without any spindle nerves.
Spindle cells have exotic structures and patterns of connection. Humans have only about 80,000 out of 10Billion neurons.
They start appearing in a baby at about four months and develop over 2/3 years and are linked to the emotions and moral aspects they learn.
Spindle cells are not doing rational problem solving and explain why we do not have much logical control over emotional responses.
Emotions are just shortcuts on how to respond and behave when a similar situation arises the next time. Higher-level emotions are all learned.
A child trips and falls and looks at the mother first because it does not know how to react to it. If she sees the mother showing no emotions and prompts her to get up, that’s what she will do; however, if the baby sees shock and fear in the mother’s face, it will start crying.
Now spindle cells are developing linking falling, mother’s face and how she should react, etc.. The response will be automatic next time.
You cannot experience higher level emotions if you do not have the corresponding spindle nerve systems, and no one showed you or thought of those emotions.
Guilt and shame, stimulate the same areas of the brain that get triggered when you have pleasure. (prefrontal areas / the anterior cingulate)
If shame and guilt trigger the reward centers, it must have an evolutionary advantage.
In several species, including humans, we can see that the members that trick other species or other members and get away with it often survive longer and dispense less energy to get advantages.
Evolution rewards the members for fooling others, like a tribe member who hangs around all day, comes back in the evening, pretends to be tired of hunting, and then shares the food brought by the others, might feel guilty pleasure.
But the tribe that finds that out will teach their younger kids not to do that, and install the spindle nerves, to feel bad about guilt and shame which are triggering pleasure centers of the brain.
The mix of contradicting natural vs learned reactions creates a strange situation in the brain.
However, it can explain a lot of behaviors and why when you feel guilt or shame about something; people tend to end up doing more of it.
An example of breaking a promise to yourself and taking some extra food might trigger guilt, but in the background, it gets linked to pleasure in the brain, so you end up doing more of it, but you have learned to feel bad goes in circles.
There are social advantages to link bad emotions to actions that usually trigger the pleasure centers in the brain because what is advantageous and pleasurable for an individual can be very harmful in a social context.
However, by just understanding that every time guilt of shame is triggered, at a subconscious level, it is rewarding to the brain and can have profound implications on how we tackle a lot of problems and goals.
I am still working on this –
These are some of the people whose work inspired me to come up with these thoughts and ideas:
Daniel Z. Lieberman