Bonding and meaning revisited

To expand on that post about feelings and meaning and science can’t from a few days ago. Another counter-example occurred to me – one that was touched on by people who mentioned postpartum depression, but not (that I saw, or at least recall) in detail.

Suppose the perinatal hormones hadn’t worked, or had worked the opposite way. Suppose Scott had felt a surge of not love and protectiveness but disgust and loathing. I think it’s fair to say we know what she would have done; she would have 1) done something to ensure her infant’s safety and well-being and 2) tried to fix her own response, via drugs or counseling. Why? Because of scientific knowledge about infancy. Because of Harry Harlow, for one thing. She would have second-guessed the apparent meaning of what she felt, and tried hard not to act on it. She would have used what she knew to counteract a felt “meaning.”

And if that’s right, then it’s also the case that scientific knowledge was part of the “meaning” of the bonding. She knew it was a good healthy useful emotion, so she knew to embrace it and go with it and act on it as opposed to the opposite.

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