Disgust, the mother of Suffering

Remember I am discussing the 6 biologically encoded emotions number 2.. Disgust..Enjoy

Disgust, the Mother Load
Horrid, dirty, smelly, putrid tastes or smells.
Moral outrage born of conditioning and misinformation.
Prejudice born from misplaced loyalties and judgements that get erroneously entangled with stomach heaving self aggrandizations.
Moral disgust: Self righteousness presupposing that you are more clean, morally upright, singled out by the gods for glorification and usually means the revolting masses disgust you.
Disgusting: Others who do not subscribe to your code of conduct and a rigid moral consciousness that engenders your disgust born of ignorance.

Disgust is one of the basic emotions of Paul Ekman’s six universal facial expressions of emotion. Unlike the emotions of fear, anger, and sadness, disgust is associated with a decrease in heart rate. It’s is probably designed biologically to draw you away from what you sense is harmful, but it got enmeshed with other perceptions and became visceral moral outrage.

A structure within your brain the insular cortex, mediates feelings of disgust and addictive compulsions. In motor control it contributes to hand and eye motor movement,  swallowing, gastric motility and speech articulation. It has been identified as a “command centre” that ensures your heart rate and blood pressure are regulated.  Functional imaging experiments have revealed that the insular cortex has an important role in your pain experience and the experience of a number of basic emotions including anger, fear, disgust happiness and sadness.

Disgust is an emotion that is typically associated with things that you regard as unclean, revolting, inedible, infectious, gory or otherwise offensive. Disgust is experienced primarily in relation to your sense of taste (either perceived or imagined) and secondarily to anything which causes a similar feeling by association with your sense of smell, touch, or vision. Musically sensitive people may even be disgusted by a cacophony of inharmonious sounds ( I relate strongly to that).

Disgust may be further subdivided into physical disgust, associated with physical or metaphorical uncleanliness and, moral disgust, a similar feeling, related to your judgements on behaviour and action. For example; “I am disgusted by the spiteful things that you are saying.” Moral disgust should be understood as culturally determined; physical disgust as more universally grounded, “I am disgusted by the filth in the house.”

Representations of disgust in literature, film and fine art are common. Since there are characteristic facial expressions (the clenched nostrils, the pursed lips), as Ekman and others have shown, they may be represented with more or less skill in any set of circumstances imaginable.

Since people know what disgust is, as a primary or visceral, emotion (with characteristic gestures and expressions), they may imitate it to express emotions like distain and contempt. Contempt and haughtiness are, for example, acted out on the basis of the visceral emotion, disgust, but they are not identical with disgust. They are “compound affects” that require intellectual preparation, subjective judgements and theatrical techniques. There are many such “intellectual” compound affects, such as nostalgia and outrage, but disgust is a fundamental and unmistakable example. Moral disgust, then, is different from visceral disgust, more conscious and more layered in performance.

Disgust is the mark of the bigot. Often majority dominant consciousness, employs disgust to “place” by diminishment and denigration a despised minority. Removing “disgust” from public discourse and educate people in tolerance and Broad mindedness would constitute important steps in achieving a humane and compassionate society.

Shame is linked to disgust primarily as a consequence rooted in self-consciousness. Disgust and shame dance intricately with each other.

Inner dialogues:
Oh my god that smell, reminds me of rotten meat, it’s coming from there, (points to a garbage bin). That’s disgusting, I feel nauseous.

Bar staff cleaning up, “I can’t understand why they had to put their food and cigarettes in the half drunk cocktails.  They’d not be doing that at home. Disgusting.”

I didn’t expect him to be so hairy, I can’t touch his skin, it’s disgusting.

He’s been with her again. He’s driven her in my car. How could he? God, I can’t breathe.  The bastard, and I’ve got to get in the car.  I can’t open the door, the thought of her in the car disgusts me. I’ve got to clean it, fumigate it.  I can’t touch the seat where she sat, the disgusting whore.  Oh my god I’m going to be sick.

You and Sarah! Sex between two women. It’s not right. How could you do something so disgusting? Depraved and vile that’s what it is. That’s against the will of God.  You are not my child.  Disgusting.

The dance of inner shame begets disgust and creates many delusions in this illusionary world.

A quiet night, that’s right, a quiet night, that’s what I wanted.  The gym will be quiet, I’ll go and work out, listen to laid back music on 2SER.  My expectations were raised.

The night was cold and I went with expectations of feeling calm. I arrived at the gym and a big pug faced man with a white towel around his neck sat and watched two other big men in big shorts and singlets pound into each other and dance around and punch fast and furiously into the air and a pad on a hand.

“Give uz twenty!!” pound pound etc pound etc wham wham etc thwack etc.  I was imagining comic book thought bubbles with ZHAM, WACK, ZOW.  “Give uz another ten.”

The music was loud a classic rock station, my god they took up a lot of air space, floor space, psychic space.  These three blokes, and beer swilling testosterone driven blokes they were, were in a space I usually found to be empty and quiet.  They were the antithesis of the type of men I would associate with.  Anyway that’s what I felt, all my prejudices against, violence in and of itself surfaced, all my antipathy towards brutal looking men played across my now tense shoulders.  All my dislike of what aggression does to consciousness rose to my now constricted throat.

I stayed and got on the cross trainer because I was stiff and no matter what needed a workout.  I figured that at the rate they were hitting each other they would flag before too long and leave.

Finally I heard, “Where d’ya wanna go?” “Royal Oak?” “Yeah sure.” Mental note to self avoid the Royal Oak Hotel in Balmain
The blokes left and I realised that I had experienced disgust, my nose had contracted at the first whiff of sweat and my lips had pursed into a cat’s bum shape.

The bigot in me was very happy to be because I knew I was writing about disgust and to have it course through my body like an uninvited guest who sullies my house was in the end just what the writer in me needed. Gratitude to the boxing blokes for exposing my inner bigot, she needs attending to and thanks to the boxing blokes for opening me to disgust, quite an interesting night.


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