I have never used the word visceral before in a sentence, but today I am feeling kind of visceral, but I am also feeling a bit emotional. I really am not the kind of person that goes around discussing my emotions, as I more or less tend to roll with the punches and laugh most of my problems off. A visceral reaction is an instinctive, gut-deep bodily response to a stimulus or experience. Neurotransmitters (those chemical messengers in our brains) will determine what emotions we feel and they will force a physical response. These visceral reactions are raw and uncontrolled, yet all people experience them, and without them people would never experience empathy. Raw and uncontrolled reactions could be shivering, adrenaline rushes, your heart rate or breathing speeding up or slowing down, your stomach tightening, getting a flash of nausea, a flush of heat or sweating.
Nobody ever said that life was going to be easy and in an average day a person might experience traffic snarls, rude colleagues and unexpected delays, which can all provoke visceral responses. Your body will react accordingly to what it encounters and certain situations may cause your adrenalin to increase, which in turn will prepare your body for a fight or flight response, or your heart might beat more rapidly to improve your blood supply, or your blood pressure might rise and your breathing could accelerate and also acidity may build up in your stomach.
I am not a psychologist and I am also not a brain surgeon, but in order to better explain this, I need to talk about a part of the brain that is called the amygdala. The amygdala is part of Limbic System, at the end of the hippocampus and it is responsible for the response and memory of emotions, especially that of fear. All information which enters the brain goes first through the amygdala, and reaches the pre frontal cortex about 10 seconds later. The amygdala is what generates the ‘fight or flight’ response, so you may have an emotional reaction instantly, which can be visceral or otherwise, prior to the information being received in the pre frontal cortex (the thinking part). You may then choose to retain your original emotional response, or reconsider once your thoughts are engaged.
The way I see it, is that emotional feelings are intellectual responses to external stimuli, where something happened and you thought about it and processed outcomes and then you had a conscious reaction to become angry or whatever. Visceral feelings work on a non-intellectual level, that are not connected with your emotions, because they arise from a physical reaction, commonly called a gut reaction, a response one feels typically within the abdominal area. This is usually felt to be a more powerful reaction, and so we tend to reserve visceral for those reactions which are generated by things that hit us so hard that it almost feels as if we have been punched in the stomach.
Anyway I worked a half day today, well at least I will be paid for a half day. There are seven periods in the day and usually a substitute teachers get a planning period and a lunch if they work a whole day. I took a morning half day job as a PE teacher and it was an easy job, as all I did was take attendance. I was expecting the teacher to show up for fifth period, but I had to stay for fifth. This made it longer than a half a day as the next period would have been lunch and since sixth was planning, the only class left was seventh period.
I felt visceral when the teacher did not show up and I had to stay longer. I can’t really complain, because I like working at this school, so I just had to suck it up. After my visceral feelings diminished I was a bit angry, but now I am writing, so all is good in the world.