Antonym Fightorflight

Copyright © 1998 - 2001 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)



She hath done wondrous naughty! --King Francois, on Katherine Howard, 5th wife of Henry VIII

Far from having a mind of its own, the penis is now known to be under the complete control of the central nervous system-the brain and spinal cord. --Irwin Goldstein (Scientific American, 2000:70)

Courtship. Any of several signs exchanged during the love-making phase of courtship.

Usage: From signals exchanged in the touch phase (see LOVE SIGNALS IV), men and women progress to the final (i.e., resolution) stage: sexual intercourse. In every society, men and women attain the extreme physical closeness of coitus through courtship, usually a slow negotiation based on verbal and nonverbal cues. Communication continues in the fifth phase of courtship, to orgasm and beyond.

Waning signs. After physically bonding in love, there is less need to renegotiate the closeness achieved in previous courting phases. Loving couples thus give fewer love signals. Because they take the distance between them comfortably for granted they give off fewer "come-hither" cues.

Neuro-notes. The joy of romance is rewarded by a short-lived spasm of pleasure known as orgasm. Triggered by nerve impulses from the clitoris and penis (through dorsal aspects of the spinal cord's pudendal nerve), orgasm is accompanied by vaginal contractions in the female, and in males by the ejaculation of semen into the female's body.

Anatomy I. Humans are primates, and the sexual skin (or perineum) of primates is replete with ancient receptors known as Meissner's corpuscles and Merkel's disks. The penis and clitoris (which are evolutionary equivalents), the perineal skin of the surrounding "saddle" area (i.e., buttocks and inner thighs), and the forehead, nipples, soles of the feet, palms of the hand, and fingertips, all contain dense concentrations of these encapsulated nerve endings, and are important in the tactile-arousal phase of making love.

Anatomy II. Before orgasm couples stimulate each other with tactile cues during foreplay. Known as the light or protopathictouch, caressing a partner's hairless thighs, e.g., registers in Meissner's and Merkel's receptors, from whence impulses travel an evolutionary-old pathway (the anterior spinothalamic tract) to pleasure areas where the sensations are consciously enjoyed. Protopathic cues draw the body into a relaxed, parasympathetic mode (see REST-AND-DIGEST) in which sexual tissues lubricate and enlarge. (N.B.: Fearful feelings latent in the sympathetic nervous system [see FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT] may be calmed through kissing, nuzzling, and gentle massage.)

Anatomy III. In stage five, the most effective touch zones (apart from genitalia) are a. the outer and inner thighs, b. the derrière, and c. the saddle area of the perineal skin. Touching these areas stimulates the pudendal nerve, which innervates the penis and clitoris directly. In tandem with the pudendal, gluteal and perineal branches of the posterior femoral cutaneous nerve (from the sacral plexus) may be pleasurably strummed in preparation for intercourse. (Branches of the latter are numerous in the inner thighs, backs of the legs, and gluteal area.)

Voice cues. While laying on hands, couples may use soft voice tones as well. Early in vertebrates, sound perception evolved from the sense of touch. (The first amphibians, e.g., "heard" vibrations conducted through the lower jaw.) Love talk, therefore, is an intimate form of "touching."

Eye signs. In the rush of excitement as couples align pelvises for sexual intercourse (and make thrusting motions stimulated by circuits of the reptilian brain), an optimal form of eye contact called en face enhances the pair bond. For men and women, sex is highly personalized as facial planes and eyes square up and align for maximum impact (the same eye-to-eye gaze is used to strengthen the mother-infant tie). Eye contact in sex gives the human touch, and copulation most often is performed front-to-front rather than front-to-rear, as in other mammals and primates.

RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. "Nuzzling behaviors, such as nose-rubbing among the Copper Eskimo and face-rubbing among the Gahuku Gama of New Guinea, can be regarded as cultural embellishments of infantile behaviors" (Givens 1978:352-53). 2. "The final stage is resolution. In true courtship, the culminating act is copulation" (Burgoon et al. 1989:328). 3. "Ejaculation and orgasm-the climax of sexual excitement-are brought on by a complex interaction of neuronal and hormonal processes, which are still incompletely understood" (LeVay 1993:51).

Sex in outer space. "While NASA officials don't categorically state that there has never been any sexual activity in space, they have consistently drawn a veil over public discussion of such questions." According to NASA spokesman, John Ira Petty, "We consider all aspects of long-duration space flight. Obviously there are various psychological stresses (that crews would have to face), but in terms of experiments in sex in space, that's just not on the agenda" (reported by MSNBC TV, February 24, 2000).

(N.B.: At or about age 12, girls all over the world begin applying makeup to their faces, while boys roll up their sleeves to reveal the biceps brachii of masculine arms. Generation after generation of adolescents dance to the heartbeat of courtship's primal routine. With little regard for logic or reason, they fumble toward a realization that the meaning of life in Nonverbal World is none other than life itself.)

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)



Equilibrium signal. An incoming sign received when the body's head is suddenly accelerated, decelerated, or tilted.

Usage: Though we instinctively keep our head stabilized, we enjoy accelerating, dropping, and spinning it as well, e.g., in such sports as auto racing, skiing, sky diving, and surfing. Stimulation of motion sensors in our inner ear is not only pleasurable, but diverts attention away from today's concerns, and tomorrow's fretful worries. In part, this is because older centers of the brain's basal ganglia and cerebellum are engaged, centers in which there is no tomorrow, but only the present moment in time.

Anatomy. Stimulating accelerometers of the inner ear diverts our attention from anxiety and apprehension about the future. The inner ear's utricle and saccule are sensitive to linear acceleration and to gravity, while its three semicircular canals are sensitive to angular and rotational acceleration. Rotation upsets the normal circulation of fluid in the ear's balance loops to make us feel dizzy (Pool 1987:69).

Consumer products I. 1. We consider the illusion of speed thrilling, and find roller coasters (which only kill one or two people a year in the U.S. [Poundstone 1990:124]) scarier than automobiles (which kill 50,000 a year [Wright 1990:263]). The fastest roller coaster in the world (in Gurnee, Illinois) averages only one mile faster than 65 mph, the speed limit of some interstate highways. (N.B.: The average adult coaster has a top speed of only 38 mph [Poundstone 1990:126].) 2. We scream loudest during the initial plunge, which triggers our innate fear-of-falling reflex, as we grasp the bar in front of us tightly with a power grip. We enjoy Magic Mountain's Viper, in Santa Clarita, California, which, from its highest point 188 feet above the earth, carries our head upside-down seven times at speeds up to 70 mph (McFarlan 1990:92).

Consumer products II. To maximize the fear of falling, many take their heads aboard Magic Mountain's FreeFall ride. After waiting in line for up to 45 minutes, their heads drop for 2.5 seconds 90 feet straight down a steel track (Poundstone 1990:131-32).

Consumer products III. After rocking for 70 minutes in rocking chairs, nursing home patients diagnosed with dementia showed up to a one-third reduction in signs of anxiety and depression. According to University of Rochester geriatric nursing researcher, Nancy Watson, "You could see immediately by their faces that they were enjoying themselves."

Courtship. Not only do we rock babies from side to side, but also the adults whom we love as well (see LOVE SIGNALS IV, Hugging).

Freewheeling. Our enjoyment of free body movements through space may be innate (Thorndike 1940).

Neuro-notes. The inner ear's vestibular system, innervated by cranial nerve VIII (vestibulocochlear) senses positions and movements of the head in space.

0 0

Post a comment