First: seeking: its role as spark for motivational activation

The fundamental launching point (motivational source) for experience

Seeking is the spark for everything we do, feel, think, and imagine. In other words, seeking is the spark for our individual and collective humanity. Seeking provides the means by which each individual develops and forms, maintains, and alters his or her capacities, his or her unique identity. Seeking through reflection is the means by which we create a daily and lifelong sense of complex meanings as we experience our lives together and separately. Our study of seven motivational systems points to seeking as the impetus activating the affects, intention, and goals of each motivational pursuit. The primary role of seeking can be immediately recognized when our focus is on an individual’s experience and in addition receives strong support from contemporary brain research (Alcaro and Panksepp, 2011). Shifting our focus to experience and seeking as the primary source of motivation shifts our verbal presentation from language borrowed from nonexperiential sources (psychic structure, neutralized energy) to a language of experience.

In Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth refers to his character Alex Portnoy’s reason for his compulsive masturbation. Alex is turned on to sex with a girl by her “nice ass,” or “tits and nipples,” or ability to suck, but some disappointing failure on her part triggers another round of masturbation -as do episodes of severe frustration with his mother and father. So what does he want? He wants sexual excitement, orgasmic relief, release from the severe tension of frustration, disappointment, humiliation, and anger. Or we can ask: what does he seek? He seeks sexual excitement, orgasmic relief, release from the severe tension of frustration, disappointment, humiliation, and anger. When the source of being a doer doing is body sensation (sensual arousal, pain, need to urinate and/or defecate, shortness of breath, hunger, thirst, repellent odors, and other emotion-laden states), I want and I seek seem indistinguishable as triggers for action. But when an infant scans the room with no specific desire or goal and discovers moving shadows that catch his attention, seeking is a primary motivational impetus that leads to exploration and discovery of what he wants to look at.

 
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