Seeking pure pleasure

Added: Candice Drennan - Date: 06.03.2022 20:49 - Views: 25163 - Clicks: 9795

Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Today's society is pleasure seeking. We expect to obtain pleasurable experiences fast and easily. We are used to hyper-palatable foods and drinks, and we can get pornography, games and gadgets whenever we want them. The problem: with this type of pleasure-maximizing choice behaviour we may be turning ourselves into mindless pleasure junkies, handing over our free will for the next dopamine shoot.

Seeking pure pleasure

Pleasure-only activities are fun. In excess, however, such activities might have negative effects on our biopsychological health: they provoke a change in the neural mechanisms underlying choice behaviour.

Second, an is given of the type of action that might aid to maintain the neural systems underlying choice behaviour balanced. Finally, it is proposed that engagement with the arts might be an activity with the potential to foster healthy choice behaviour—and not be just for pleasure.

The evidence in this rather new field Seeking pure pleasure research is still piecemeal and inconclusive. This review aims to motivate targeted research in this domain. Knowledge without action is madness and action without knowledge is void. We expect to obtain pleasure fast and easily. We are used to hyper-palatable foods and drinks. We can choose to get pornography, games and gadgets whenever we want. We owe no explanation to anyone.

Pleasure is good. Pleasure is right. The problem: with this type of pleasure-maximizing behaviour we may be turning ourselves into mindless pleasure junkies, handing over our free will for the next dopamine shot [ 1 ].

Evidence in this field is still piecemeal and inconclusive, however, this review seeks to provide an overview of available evidence to stimulate future research in this domain. Hedonism advocates that happiness is achieved through pure pleasure and enjoyment, while eudemonism contends that happiness is only reached through complex and meaningful goals [ 2 ]. In accordance with recent developments in the field of positive psychology, it appears, however, that both hedonism strive for pleasure and eudemonism strive for meaning are required for happiness and genuine well-being in life.

Individuals striving for both pleasure and meaning exhibit the largest life satisfaction, well-being, mental and physical health [ 3 ]. This view is echoed in the brain sciences. On a basic mechanistic level, a differentiation is made between low-level pleasures and higher-order pleasures. Low-level pleasure is a mere perceptual stimulation leading to a rewarding sensation food, sex, etc. Dopaminergic action in the reward circuitries of the brain is responsible for this feeling and ensures that the individual engages in biologically relevant behaviour e.

In this view, pleasure is a learning al that reinforces a biologically relevant behaviour. Pleasure is a motivator of behaviour that is related to the fulfilment of any biological need biochemical, homeostaticand never an aim in itself [ 8 — 10 ]. As an analogy, consider the following example. When nutrients are ingested through food, the whole point i. As a side effect, we experience pleasure. When ingestion of food is purely driven by the motivation to experience pleasure, no matter the contents of the ingested food, the long-term consequence of imbalanced diet can be eating disorders e.

Neural circuits of the A-system respond to events in the environment and trigger the optimal physiological state in the body for the organism to deal with the event e. It triggers the autonomous nervous system through neurochemical action to prepare Seeking pure pleasure adequate physiological state for Seeking pure pleasure fast behavioural response [ 16 — 19 ].

Any behavioural response triggered directly by the A-system will, therefore, be a rather coarse reaction e. The neural circuits of the I-system process internal stimuli related to bodily processes e. This may include downregulation of the A-system, to enable long-term reward. The human reward system evolved to respond to natural rewards rewards we find in nature; foods like meat, vegetables, crops, sex, shelter, etc.

The reward system does not differentiate between natural and Seeking pure pleasure rewards. However, normally, negative feedback loops in the brain al when homeostasis is re-established. This stops the organism from ingesting something or carrying out an action more often than required by the biological state of the body [ 23 ]. In the addicted brain, pleasure is experienced, but no satiety, because no actual biochemical imbalance is re-established.

This continuous pleasure stimulation over time induces the amygdala to Seeking pure pleasure hyper-activated [ 11 ], while the insula is hypo-activated [ 24 ]. This is the basis of the problematic and inadequate decision-making of addicted individuals: they have little access to the top-down regulatory control processes acquired through socialization mediated by frontal and prefrontal networks, which would help alling the long-term implications of different choice options [ 25 ] I-system.

Craving is a painful state of wanting, similar to hunger [ 511 ]. Craving strips the individual of their willpower to resist [ 1131 ]. Loss of autonomous, healthy choice behaviour is the result [ 113335 ]. Studies comparing the brains of people with substance addictions and behavioural addictions have found that there are common neural mechanisms mediating drug addiction and behavioural addictions for reviews, see [ 273136 ].

Many of today's easy pleasures have the potential to create behavioural addictions. Evidence suggests this is the case for smart phone social media app use 12 [ 37 — 39 ], gambling [ 40 ], sports [ 41 — 44 ], sex and pornography [ 45 — 47 ], hyper-palatable foods [ 3648 — 50 ], gaming [ 5152 ] and the Internet [ 53 ].

Intermittent reinforcement learning is one of the key mechanisms involved in the aetiology of addiction. We repeat what caused pleasure in the past. More than 50 years of reinforcement learning research has demonstrated that intermittent reinforcement is the most potent reinforcement schedule which causes the fastest learning and addictive behaviour and is the most resistant to extinction [ 5455 ]. Intermittent reinforcement is when a desired action outcome is only obtained on part of the attempts to obtain it, and, when the ratio success rate is variable and unpredictable.

For example, to receive a message, to see something that we like on social media, to win a gamble, to achieve a sporting outcome—all these events cause pleasurable chills, but they are unpredictable and happen on a variable basis. Two examples illustrate the cascade of effects when over-exposed to pleasure-only activities: social media use and hyper-palatable eating:. They create craving because of the intermittent reinforcement schedule, triggered by the notification icon: we never know when it will appear [ 58 ]. Therefore, social media have the potential to cause behavioural addiction [ 37 — 39 ].

In addition, social media encourage dysfunctional personality styles narcissism, low self-esteem, shyness, excessive need for confirmation; [ 59 — 62 ], antagonism e. This is because the compulsive use of these platforms exposes the individual to prolonged and unnatural social Seeking pure pleasure psychological pressure, forcing the individual to make choices that are not optimal for their own psychological health [ 69 — 72 ].

Overeating sugar changes the brain as do other addictive drugs [ 2748 ]. Intermittent sugar intake acts as a secondary reinforcer and therefore changes the neurochemistry of the reward system. With time, it causes a hyper-activation of the dopamine and opioid systems, producing an increase in the incentive value of the sight of hyper-palatable foods [ 49 ].

This happens when a food product contains the exact right mixture of sweet, fat and salty [ 77 ]. This makes people overeat despite caloric excess [ 7879 ]. It is a vicious circle because the individual stays hungry despite ingesting food—which becomes directly stored as fat. However, high fat foods elicit less leptin and will, therefore, cause over-intake of calories, as the negative feedback loop is missing [ 85 ].

The food industry combines an artificial of ingredients especially flavours into a mix that does not exist in nature, and which therefore triggers intense pleasure without nutritional value —because these substances act directly on the A-system reward. Apart from food addiction, the of this imbalance caused by the choice of artificial foods are obesity and other eating disorders.

Activities that strengthen the links between the A- and the I-systems might decrease the probability of developing behavioural addictions and aid to maintain bodily systems healthy from the outset because choices would be long-term prosperity maximizing. The neural system linking A- and I-systems is the insula. The insula is centrally implicated in the interoceptive awareness of bodily states and als [ 86 ]; for example, of bodily feedback alling satiety, e.

The learned interpretation of these interoceptive als in relation to preceding events and contextual information [ 2287 ] is thought to form the basis of healthy emotional function [ 131420218889 ] and decision-making [ 9091 ]. Conversely, impaired interoceptive abilities have been related to addiction [ 92 ] and eating disorders [ 93 — 95 ]. It has been suggested that activities that might engage the insular and somatosensory systems could help to reverse the adverse effects of addictions insula hypo-activationby enabling access to the frontal control networks of the brain I-system supporting meaning and awareness of long-term implications, through the insula [ 96 ].

Activities that elicit this holistic activation pattern are activities that are not only pleasurable and rewarding, but also have a meaning to us because they engage our personal memories and life experience. Interoceptive accuracy can be measured with objective tests i. Attempts at identifying groups of people who might be specifically interoceptively aware have largely proved unsuccessful [ 9699]. Notably, however, artists such as musicians and dancers have been found to have an enhanced objective awareness of their interoceptive states [], suggesting an interesting route to heightened interoceptive awareness through the arts.

This merits further investigation—also with respect to which aspects of interoceptive awareness are related to well-being [ ]. Furthermore, engagement with the arts demonstrably has the potential to engage both the A- and the I-systems in lay people and art experts alike [ — ]. Low-level stimuli features of works of art trigger our attention, including shapes and tones, and Seeking pure pleasure features such as symmetry and beauty [ — ].

Besides, the arts push boundaries, surprise, reveal, and excite both artist and spectator. This all causes pleasurable chills value asation and pleasure; A-system. In this endeavour, neural structures of reward and pleasure have been found to be engaged during aesthetic experiences [, — ]. The I-system is engaged, for example, when personally ificant artwork triggers idiosyncratic memories and personal knowledge and abilities e.

A piece of art gains personal ificance [ ], and meaningfulness [ 6 ] because it triggers memory and frontal experiential systems I-system. This suggests that moments of understanding and finding a meaning to an artwork might be the moment where A- and I-systems are optimally involved.

Philosophers, scientists and poets have long argued that through the absorption of our mind in creative activities states of well-being and a sense of purpose in life are achieved [ ]. Maslow [ ] called this state peak experience.

Seeking pure pleasure

It is described as a situation or state in which we are optimally connected to the activity and where personal skills and task demands are in ideal balance [ ]. An example of an activity that can induce flow is engagement with the arts. Personal engagement with an activity produces strongly pleasurable states of flow [ ].

These moments might be only a few seconds long, or last for hours. The important aspect is the total absorption into one coherent focused neurocognitive state. Artists experience strong moments of flow during their artful activity [ ] and the self-rated meaningfulness of a produced artwork e.

Seeking pure pleasure

Flow is said to produce eudaimonia [ 4 — 6 ]. Importantly, the arts do not induce states of craving without fulfilment—as do activities with reinforcement schedules which are prone to create habits and addiction such as intermittent variable ratio or interval reinforcement schedules e.

Rather, the above suggests that the arts can help overwrite the detrimental effects of dysfunctional urges and craving caused by the hyper-activation of the amygdala [ 11 ] and the hypo-activation of the insula [ 24 ], by focusing the mind into one coherent state which activates the A- and I-systems alike. It is true that not all art has a resolution or grand finale which soothes the senses after a turmoil of action and strong emotional discharge—and could thus induce craving A-system hyper-activation. Movies and books with cliff-hanger endings exist, as do musical pieces without final note that leave a teasing yearning in the listener.

In this vein, a view expressed in the Seeking pure pleasure therapy domain is that active arts therapy empowers individuals by engaging them in active interaction and discussion, thus creating new avenues of thought, asing idiosyncratic and non-threatening new meanings to situations which were formerly problematic to the individual [ ].

However, she will get the leg there eventually, as part of a choreography with a meaning to the spectator. Extensive lists of symptoms that can help to detect behavioural addictions are available in []. For example, the continued execution of the excessive behaviour despite negative consequences health-related, occupational and social is a particularly debilitating of addiction and is probably the most striking and easily detectable to friends and family members.

Seeking pure pleasure

One might argue that it should be up to the individual's free choice whether, or not, to let their choice behaviour be biased, and whether they care if their pleasure boosting A-system is hyper-activated at the expense of a hypo-activation of the insula. However, when it comes to decisions affecting larger groups of people, or a nation, such as during elections and votes one may want to ensure that the people making the choices are autonomous agents and not individuals blinded Seeking pure pleasure short-term reward prospects.

The current societal situation maps onto Al-Ghazali's quote at the beginning of the article: we engage in actions without knowing about their effects on us while neuroscience and biopsychology have in the past 20 years provided extensive evidence highlighting negative effects of certain actions on our biopsychological health. The present review article aims to suggest ways to link knowledge to action and vice versa. In particular, that this freedom of choice requires an increased responsibility of the individual—of us : that of being informed about the effects of our choices—also at the level of neurobiological health.

We need to be empowered by knowledge to be free. For example, today's mainstream acceptance of pleasure-seeking behaviour might have detrimental effects for society as a whole. Individuals' freedom used to be limited by religion, culture and tradition. Generations fought and achieved freedom of individual choice. However, we now might be on the edge of losing this freedom again, to a new prison that is made in our own brain. The arts are mostly neglected as anything more than a nice passe -time,—although poets, philosophers and scientists have always advocated for the importance of the arts for personal autonomous development.

Recent neuroscientific and biopsychological evidence suggests an interesting potential of Seeking pure pleasure practice as a means to maintain a free mind—even in neurobiological terms. For example, social media have beneficial effects in the medicine setting [ 7475 ] and may be a useful tool to manage depression [ 76 ]. National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. Journal List Proc Biol Sci v. Proc Biol Sci.

Seeking pure pleasure

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The science behind pleasure-seeking