chapter  1
18 Pages

Wired to survive rather than thrive

Session one: how we evolved – threat, drive and soothing systems
WithErik van den Brink, Frits Koster, Victoria Norton

Being human is a big mystery. When we realise suffering is inevitable because we live in an imperfect body, in an imperfect world, with many others who are just as imperfect as we are. Compassion is not luxury but a basic need. Compassion is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It has a receptive and tender side, but also an active and powerful side. The human brain changes with experience like no other organ, enabling us to learn from and adapt to varying circumstances. The brain is thought to have evolved into a multi-layered organ. From the point of evolutionary psychology, emotions function as messengers who have our best interests at heart. They motivate us to survive and live as comfortably as possible, even if they feel unpleasant. The three basic emotion regulation systems can be easily observed in a cat. The chapter focuses on the three systems in a cat: the threat system; the drive system; and the soothing system.