Origin and Nature of Emotions

Author: George Washington Crile

Influences That Cause Variation in the Rate of Output of Energy in the Individual

Not only is there a variation in the rate of output of energy among various species of animals, but one finds also variations in the rate of output of energy among individuals of the same species. If our thesis that men and animals are mechanisms responding to environmental stimuli be correct, and further, if the speed of energy output be due to changes in the activating organs as a result of adaptive stimulation, then we should expect to find physical changes in the activating glands during the cycles of increased activation. What are the facts? We know that most animals have breeding seasons evolved as adaptations to the food supply and weather. Hence there is in most animals a mating season in advance of the season of maximum food supply so that the young may appear at the period when food is most abundant. In the springtime most birds and mammals mate, and in the springtime at least one of the great activating glands is enlarged—the thyroid in man and in animals shows seasonal enlargement. The effect of the increased activity is seen in the song, the courting, the fighting, in the quickened pulse, and in a slightly raised temperature. Even more activation than that connected with the season is seen in the physical state of mating, when the thyroid is known to enlarge materially, though this increased activity, as we shall show later, is probably no greater than the increased activity of other activating glands. In the mating season the kinetic activity is speeded up; in short, there exists a state—a fleeting state—of mild Graves’ disease. In the early stages of Graves’ disease, before the destructive phenomena are felt, the kinetic speed is high, and life is on a sensuous edge. Not only is there a seasonal rhythm to the rate of flow of energy, but there is a diurnal variation—the ebb is at night, and the full tide in the daytime. This observation is verified by the experiments which show that certain organs in the kinetic chain are histologically exhausted, the depleted cells being for the most part restored by sleep.

We have seen that there are variations in speed in different species, and that in the same species speed varies with the season of the year and with the time of day. In addition there are variations also in the rate of discharge of energy in the various cycles of the life of the individual. The young are evolved at high speed for growth, so that as soon as possible they may attain to their own power of self-defense; they must adapt themselves to innumerable bacteria, to food, and to all the elements in their external environment. Against their gross enemies the young are measurably protected by their parents; but the parents—except to a limited extent in the case of man—are unable to assist in the protection of the young against infectious disease.

The cycle of greatest kinetic energy for physiologic ends is the period of reproduction. In the female especially there is a cycle of increased activity just prior to her development into the procreative state. During this time secondary sexual characters are developed— the pelvis expands, the ovaries and the uterus grow rapidly, the mammary glands develop. Again in this period of increasing speed in the expenditure of energy we find the thyroid, the adrenals, and the hypophysis also in rapid growth. Without the normal development of the ovary, the thyroid, and the hypophysis, neither the male nor the female can develop the secondary sexual characters, nor do they develop sexual desire nor show seasonal cycles of activity, nor can they procreate. The secondary sexual characters—sexual desire, fertility—may be developed at will, for example, by feeding thyroid products from alien species to the individual deprived of the thyroid.

At the close of the child-bearing period there is a permanent diminution of the speed of energy discharge, for energy is no longer needed as it was for the self-preservation of the offspring before adolescence, and for the propagation of the species during the procreative period. Unless other factors intervene, this reduction in speed is progressive until senescent death. The diminished size of the thyroid of the aged bears testimony to the part the activating organs bear in the general decline.

We have now referred to variations in the rate of discharge of energy in different species; in individuals of the same species; in cycles in the same individual—such as the seasons of food supply, the periods of wakefulness and of sleep, the procreative period, and we have spoken of those variations caused artificially by thyroid feeding, thus far having confined our discussion to the conversion for adaptive purposes of latent into kinetic energy in muscular and in procreative action. We shall now consider the conversion of latent into kinetic energy in the production of heat,[*] and endeavor to answer the questions which arise at once: Is there one mechanism for the conversion of latent energy into heat and another mechanism for its conversion into muscular action? What is the adaptive advantage of fever in infection?

[*] We use the terms "heat" and "muscular action" in the popular sense, though physicists use them to designate one and the same kind of energy.


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: Origin and Nature of Emotions

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Origin and Nature of Emotions

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: George Washington Crile, "Influences That Cause Variation in the Rate of Output of Energy in the Individual," Origin and Nature of Emotions, trans. Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859 in Origin and Nature of Emotions Original Sources, accessed December 3, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LJ4ZTJ2JX1QTDVA.

MLA: Crile, George Washington. "Influences That Cause Variation in the Rate of Output of Energy in the Individual." Origin and Nature of Emotions, translted by Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859, in Origin and Nature of Emotions, Original Sources. 3 Dec. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LJ4ZTJ2JX1QTDVA.

Harvard: Crile, GW, 'Influences That Cause Variation in the Rate of Output of Energy in the Individual' in Origin and Nature of Emotions, trans. . cited in 1909, Origin and Nature of Emotions. Original Sources, retrieved 3 December 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LJ4ZTJ2JX1QTDVA.