Key to Concepts, Abbreviations and Strange Words

Chapter 4:

Actually, this chapter can be regarded as a condensed preliminary introduction or a summary - to be read as a unit by itself. Therefore, the order of the items included in it is not alphabetical. After the first reading, or without it, it will serve you as a short dictionary.

The concepts

  1. Basic Emotional structures
  2. Activation Program
  3. Basic Emotion
  4. Ad Hoc Operation Programs
  5. Input or Feed
  6. Feedback
  7. Felt Sensation
  8. Supra-Program
  9. Emotional Supra-Program
  10. Trashy Supra-Program
  11. Socialization
  12. Biofeedback
  13. Natural Biofeedback
  14. Sensate Focusing
  15. Cognitive Processes
  16. Subliminal Perception
  17. Cover-Program
    • 1.- Basic Emotional Structures are approximately 15-20 neuro-biological structures of the brain. Their main components are located in various parts of the "Limbic System", which is an archaic part of the brain. Each of these structures is a relatively independent part of the emotional system and is in a reciprocal relationship with nearly all the other systems and subsystems of the brain and body.
      >Each of the basic emotional structures is in charge of the continuous appraisal of the condition of the individual, with regard to a specific aspect of his existence as a human being and as a living creature. The ongoing appraisals are done for actual, potential and hypothetical circumstances and activities - directly and indirectly related to the individual. The appraisal of each is like a point moving along a continuum located between two opposing poles, the content of which is specific to it. For example, those of the structure in charge of assessing the amount of present and future dangers, are made along the "Fear-Serenity" continuum which is better known as the Basic Emotion(3) of "fear". These appraisals are conveyed to the other subsystems and culminate as specific behaviors, as internal and external communications, as various physiological and cognitive processes, and as subjective experiences. More on what are the emotions

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  • 2.- Activation Program or Activation Plan or Scheme: is a pattern for the activation of processes in the mind and body, stored in the memory. Usually it does not operate by itself but by means of a temporary ad hoc operation program(4) constructed for the specific occasion from various programs already stored in the memory. More on the activation programs
  • 3.- Basic Emotion: is the most common name for the combination of the individual brain structure of a basic emotion and the activation program(s) of this structure. Each of the basic emotions includes a program or a subprogram for the perceptual component; for the integrational one; for the intra-body activation one; for the behavioral one; and for the expressive one. Each of the basic emotions includes also a program for the component which is responsible for the subjective experience of the activity of that basic emotion. At the beginning of the life of an individual, these structures are activated and operated by innate "Activation Programs"(2). Later in life, these structures are operated by dynamic combinations of the innate activation programs and a plethora of acquired ones - mainly built in the early years of life (to be called, in the following chapters "Supra-Programs"(8).
  • 4.- Ad Hoc Operation Program is a temporary structure of (or in) the memory, which was built in order to execute one of the many functions and processes of the mind, body and behavior. It is based on activation programs, previous experience and other materials already stored in the memory. Taking into consideration the specific circumstances of the moment, it is built anew for each occasion, by the ad hoc operating programs active at that time.
    Each ad hoc program includes within it more or less clear and detailed expectations about the relevant future - the course of the executed program and results - and a subprogram for concurrently checking (while it is being executed) the congruity between what is expected and what is actually happening.
    When needed, this component supervises the introduction of changes into the executed program and in all the relevant activation programs. This part of the ad hoc program is the main agent of improvisation, learning and change. More on the ad hoc activation programs
  • 5.- Input or Feed is the process of transferring energy, matter or information, or all of them, from one source or various sources, continuously, on schedule, sporadically or vicariously, to any destination that is capable of absorbing it.

    • 6.- Feedback is a type of transfer of input (mostly to be used as information) from one part of a system (the feeding one) into a process which goes on in another part of the system (the one which is fed) caused by previous or concurrent input from the part which now gets that input in return. In daily life, this concept is frequently used to label the information regarding the influence of previous activity, behavior and speech - of the target of the feedback, on its source.
    • 7.- Felt Sensation or "felt sense" for short is the name of those sensations of the body of which we become aware. All of them are related to mental processes. Frequently, when attended to, they are organized and felt as a meaningful whole. These sensations derive from five main sources:
      a) All the time - the ongoing activities of the subjective experience components of the basic emotions.
      b) During low levels of activity - natural biofeedback resulting from the influence of the other components of the basic emotions on the various receptors of the sensorium of the body.
      c) While in actual activities - processes involved with locomotion and other purposeful behavior: actual one, tendencies and preparation for future ones are the main suppliers.
      d) When things are as usual - the somewhat less prominent suppliers are those of the biological equilibrium maintenance systems, and of other routine internal information about the state of the organism, supplied by the sensorium.
      e) Most of the time - the ordinary and the extraordinary stimulations of the body by animate and inanimate agents. Included here are, among others, the pains and other sensations inflicted on us by accidents, by bad habits and by malicious acts or negligence on the part of others.
    • 8.- Supra-Programs or Supra-Plans are complex brain activation programs which were built during the course of the life of the owner. They are based mainly on innate programs, on supra-programs that were built previously (of innate ones), and on the accumulated memories of the activations of programs in the past.The building of a new supra-program involves various kinds of trial- and-error - actual and imaginary. It is usually based on previous drafts and versions of that supra-program, and relevant ad hoc operation programs which were built in the past. Besides the other components from which a supra-program is built - every supra-program also contains emotional components. More on Supra-Programs

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  • 9.- Emotional Supra-Program is a supra-program in which the weight of the emotional components is prominent. Often the activation of the emotional components of the emotional supra-program causes an explicit subjective emotional experience or at least a feeling, mood or some sort of a felt sense, which one can attend to.
    For the ordinary adult in our culture the emotions become over the years, more a result than a reason for activity. This process is responsible for the progressively diminishing part taken in our life of the supra-programs in which the weight of the emotional components is very prominent.
    For example, for a grownup man with a broad education, figuring the multiple of seven times four usually does not involve supra-programs highly loaded with emotional components. However, if the seven represents the number of payments he has to make; and the four is the amount of thousands of dollars in each payment; and zero is the sum of his assets and credit - it is most probable that the above computation will involve supra-programs that are heavily loaded with emotional contents. More on the emotional Supra-Programs
  • 10.- Trashy Supra-Programor in short - Trash-Program is one of the many important but malfunctioning supra-programs which were constructed during a person's life time. Though their functioning might have been reasonable at the time, it is no longer so. The existence of such programs (plans) is possible mainly because a regular regime of mending and updating of activation programs is not customary in our culture.
    This is so, since even the most important instances of felt sense related to the ongoing activation programs which are the most crucial feedback about the parts of programs that need repair, are seldom attended to. This is mainly because the members of our modern culture are advised not to devote "too much" attention and other mental resources to their emotional processes
    The habit of ignoring sensations of the body, originating from physical, emotional and other mental sources of felt sensations, is itself the result of a Trashy Supra-Program. It was built into each members of our culture, during the long processes of education and socialization(11).
    These activation programs are called "Trashy" because their daily activation, without the proper updating so much needed, causes life to have the kind of low quality that is called colloquially "In The Trash" or "life in the garbage pail". More on the trash-programs
  • 11.- Socialization is a general name for the process of bringing up the newborn till they are mature members of society. Most of the efforts of those engaged in this task are devoted to the creation of the supra-programs of the young (though they seldom know it, and think that they are teaching and educating them). The roots of the main trash-programs of a person can be traced back to these processes.

    • 12.- Bio-Feedback is the shortened name for the feedback people receive from their biological systems - originally given to the information individuals received from instruments, while they are measuring ongoing biological processes of their body. It is usually connected with the word "training" to create the concept "biofeedback training". This kind of training is supposed to enable people to control measurable biological processes of their body, in spite of the fact that they are usually unaware of them and the way they succeed in doing it. (We can become aware of only part of those when they reach extreme levels.)
    • 13.- Natural biofeedback is a longer form of the term "biofeedback". It will be used instead of the shorter one, in order to stress the difference between the two main kinds of feedback: the instrumental bio-feedback described above and the natural biological feedback. In contrast to the former, in which the feedback is supplied by instruments, in the latter, both the information and the means of its communication are biological.
      For instance, a tense muscle can supply us with an indirect instrumental feedback about its tenseness when we attach to it the electrodes of a Myo graph. We - and our central nervous system - also receive from the same muscle a natural and more direct biological feedback which comes from the tension-sensitive receptors of the muscle via nerves.
      It seems that the internal processes initiated by natural or instrumental biofeedback - are the only processes that can update the Trashy Supra- Programs. We can enhance or weaken the influence of the natural biofeedback on the various activation programs of the mind at will and in a relatively wide range.
      When we want to weaken its influence, we only have to divert our attention from its source or mask it by a supply of competitive inputs to awareness. When we want to enhance it, we usually have only to increase the amount of concentrated attention paid to it or curb the influence of its competitors.
      The General Sensate Focus technique and Gendlin's Focusing are essentially systematic procedures, aimed at the enhancement of the influence of the natural biofeedback, on the processes responsible for the mending and updating of the various activation programs. (Though Gendlin does not use this kind of conceptualization.)

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  • 14.- Sensate-Focus(ing) or Focusing: The act of concentrating attention on a sensation at a point of the body, or to that of a region (small or large) or to the totality of the sensations felt at the particular moment. It can be done relatively spontaneously and it can also be done deliberately... and even as part of a schedule.
    It can be done for a very short time (for a second or two) and it can also be done for longer periods that sometimes continue for many minutes or even for a whole hour. Masters and Johnson, the famous sexologists, have used this concept and activity in their work and writings since the early sixties. They developed a most practical and directive program for overcoming problems of the sexual functioning of couples.
    The key concept to their program and the main remedy for this problem is the sensate focusing. The participants of their program are trained through progressive steps, to focus during fore-play and intercourse on sensations of the body that are related to the erotic zones. This technique helps the trainees to acquire the habits needed for mutually satisfied sexual relations. Thus the remedy for their specific problems is achieved. More on how it really works
  • 15.- Cognitive processes is a technical term for the different kinds of processing information done in the brain while it deals with the new input and with the older ones that are stored in the memory. It is mainly used to define higher level processes the products or results of which are accessible to the awareness and logic or potentially so.
    It was usually attached to the objective non emotional perceptions and verbal conceptualization or thinking. These are named now "the cold cognitive processes" in order to differentiate them from the more emotionally loaded ones - "the warm cognitive processes".
  • 16.- Subliminal - perception or sensation - is the term used to define the input of a process to the subsystem of the awareness when it does not engage our consciousness. This can happen when the input is too weak to begin with, when psychological "defenses" and other filtering processes - the "Cover-Programs"(17) - weaken it and when we consciously choose to attend to something else.
    Though we are unaware of them when in this condition, they may still have a profound effect on all the ongoing processes of the mind - mainly on those that are outside of the awareness. Even when they are subliminal, we can influence them consciously in a systematic way. For instance, when a sensation becomes too weak to discern, we can still continue to concentrate our attention on its source of origin in the body, and thus continue to enhance its effects on the other ongoing processes.
  • 17.- Cover-Program is a kind of a Supra-Program(8) that serves to prevent or to weaken the activity of other supra-programs and to prevent or restrict their intruding into the awareness. Sometimes the covering affect is applied only (or mainly) to some of the components of the emotional supra-program - mostly to those that are available to the awareness.
    The most prominent cover-programs are usually called "defenses". These defenses - as the name implies - are supposed to be a system of mental processes which protect us from becoming aware of forbidden material or unwanted and damaging emotional experiences.
    The cover-programs take part in regulating the allocation of the limited amount of brain resources and the limited capacity of awareness to the various tasks at hand. They are valuable and faulty in all the ways the other supra-programs are.
    The main problems the cover-programs cause us - during focusing and during the spontaneous attending to the natural biofeedback - are the restricting, diminishing and weakening of the appropriate felt sensations(7) needing focusing. As a result, the updating and mending of the "covered" programs is limited. More on the cover-programs

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 14). Key to Concepts, Abbreviations and Strange Words, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: July 22, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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