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Is there a purpose for worry?

 
 
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 11:48 am
Does worry serve any sort of biological/neurological/emotional purpose?

I was thinking about the whole idea of worry this morning and I can't see it's purpose so I started thinking about other kinds of emotions and what purpose they might serve.

I'm not a very jealous person and I've always thought jealousy was a pretty negative and destructive emotion (is it an emotion?) but I can see how it might serve some kind of evolutionary purpose -- running off potential mate stealers, keeping your own mate from straying, that kind of thing.

But worry has me stumped.

I started thinking maybe it just provided a way to make things better, easier and safer but I think simple experience, especially a bad experience, does that without having a worry component.

We all worry. But why? If things are out of your control they're out of your control. Does worry help a person deal with this in any way?

Is there a purpose for worry?
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:06 pm
@boomerang,
Worry, just like jealousy, is a useless emotion. All it does is make you spin your wheels and waste your energy in making nothing productive happen.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:09 pm
@Ragman,
That's what I'm thinking but I also think there must be some reason that we developed the capacity to worry.

I think I need to find some kind of "ask the evolutionary biologist" advice column.....
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:12 pm
@boomerang,
I'm not so sure a biologist can answer you effectively. Worry and jealousy are emotions that seem to be part of the human psyche. I would assume that a psychologist could answer but...it would only be a guess.

I think back to the caveman days. As an emotion, worry could couple with instinct of self-preservation, where a caveman might think ... "must save ass and protect family from lion eating us." Worry makes caveman walk far away from lion's den..but not away too far away from where the food is.

Worry ties in with the emotion of fear. Fear is pretty useful as it's there for self-preservation but worry can get out of hand if not tempered with a desire to take on some acceptable risk.
blueveinedthrobber
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:15 pm
Worrying about cancer or WWIII is completely ridiculous. worrying about what might happen if I punch that big redneck who makes three of me in the face just because he's an asshole makes me walk away intact. as in all things...context
sozobe
 
  6  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:19 pm
@boomerang,
I can see it being one of those things that is on a spectrum -- very useful in moderation, but can get out of hand.

I worry that I won't remember when I'm having lunch with a friend next Wednesday, so I write it down in my calendar.

Or, I worry that if I fall off of my bike I'll hit my head and get a concussion, so I wear a helmet.

Or, I worry that if I ignore a red light while driving, I'll get in an accident, so I obey traffic lights even when I'm late and the light is taking forever to change.

If you don't worry about anything at all, to any extent, you're likely to not survive long.
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:21 pm
@boomerang,
I'll make some unsubstantiated speculation that worry is merely a physiological expression from one's innate yet overactive fight or flight system.
blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:23 pm
@sozobe,
exactly what I was saying
0 Replies
 
blueveinedthrobber
 
  3  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:24 pm
worry is like fear a little in small doses is healthy
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:33 pm
@blueveinedthrobber,
blueveinedthrobber wrote:

Worrying about cancer or WWIII is completely ridiculous. worrying about what might happen if I punch that big redneck who makes three of me in the face just because he's an asshole makes me walk away intact. as in all things...context


Most people's worries are irrational like having fears of ear wigs ((me raising my hand on that fear)). Who said that most people were completely rational?!

And no, worrying about cancer if you worked at the Chernobyl site, postevent, isn't ridiculous. Workers working at that particular infamous Japanese nuclear facility, posttsunami, their concerns aren't ridiculous.

Some worries aren't completely useless. A police officer worrying about approaching a possible violent hostage situation ISN'T ridiculous for having these fears regarding the unpredictability of the upcoming situation. If he isn't worrying about the possible victims and their lives, he could make far greater mistakes then if he's not thinking about these things at all.

The problem with that dismissive pop psych sentiment BVT is that it oversimplifies and white washes over legitimate psych issues. It's too easy to spout out so called wise thoughts simply because they hold half truths. When applied erroneously to the wrong situations? That's when people get hurt or when people hurt others.
blueveinedthrobber
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:39 pm
@tsarstepan,
why are you lecturing me when I basically agree with what you just said?
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:43 pm
@blueveinedthrobber,
Sorry. Didn't get that from your post.
Ragman
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 12:47 pm
@tsarstepan,
This worries me.
0 Replies
 
SofiaMia12
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 04:03 pm
@boomerang,
We wouldn't worry if it didn't serve a purpose. Like a lot of others have said in this post it's all about moderation and worrying about the right things. We need to have a good old chew through some events to choose the right response. It's when you start catastrophising that it becomes very negative.
dlowan
 
  4  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 04:53 pm
@boomerang,
Some people propose that there has been a tendency for the somewhat anxious and pessimistic to live to reproduce more often in pre-history....because, it is posited, they were likely to be more alert to threats and less likely to take unnecessary risks.

So I can see a tendency to be anxious as having some evolutionary benefits.
Worry.....hmmm,mm...it's very unpleasant....perhaps it spurs us to consider the future and act to reduce risks or difficulties?

In a more sedentary and less on the edge existence perhaps it just flourishes like a weed?
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 04:54 pm
@sozobe,
And, of course, Soz said it first!
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 05:06 pm
@sozobe,
But those are things we can control.

Why do we worry about things we have no control over?

Is it just because it will/might have some effect on us -- this thing we can imagine?

Are we really just worried about ourselves when we worry about someone else?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 05:08 pm
@tsarstepan,
I can see that -- when we're worried about ourselves. We take care, we're precautions, we plan.

When we worry about things we can't control I don't see how that is a fight or flight instinct.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm really trying to get to the root of worry.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 05:09 pm
@blueveinedthrobber,
Worry is a lot like fear, maybe exactly like fear.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  3  
Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2013 05:11 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

But those are things we can control.

Why do we worry about things we have no control over?

Is it just because it will/might have some effect on us -- this thing we can imagine?


I think it's because worry is adaptive, and it's just a matter of degree.

There are a lot of things in that category. Eating is necessary, but we can overeat. The fact that we can overeat to the point where we're unhealthy doesn't mean that eating itself is maladaptive. Etc.
0 Replies
 
 

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