Interoception, senses, and anxiety

I’m reading The Extended Mind, and the first chapter is about interoception as a form of thinking we do. (Interoception is awareness of what’s happening inside our bodies.) An example the author gives is that stock brokers tend to have better interoception than the average person (correlation or causation unclear) and are willing to act on it — basically, following their “gut instinct.”

That reminded me of something else I read recently (a source): a racing heart may cause anxiety, just as anxiety can make your heart race. Feeling sensations that are symptomatic of anxiety could prompt feeling anxious.

It got me wondering: might people with anxiety have more sensitive interoception than others, but aren’t correctly interpreting their bodies signals and instead expressing it as anxiety?

Featured Ponderings Reflection Writing

Reclaiming intentionality in browsing and blogging

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed recently with keeping up on everything I’d like to read online. I’ve also struggled to finish writing blog posts, especially longer articles that tie together many things I’ve been reading and thinking.

I wonder if I’m being too passive in what I consume, and reactive in what I blog about. Most of what I write online lately is in response to or prompted by something I’ve read. I’ve built my own wide stream of information coming in, curating my sources and being selective about what to read from the stream — but I’m still letting others shape what I’m thinking about.

Some of this is good and important — listening to others, participating in the cultural conversation, following curiosity, embracing serendipity. My intake can’t only come from what others curate for me, though. I suspect my balance of intake is off: I need a greater amount of what I read to be something I’ve actively sought out. I’m good at this in my book reading; I can extend my approach from there. To claim ownership of my attention, I should more proactively choose what I spend time thinking about. By starting from a concept rather than discovering one as I go, I could blog more purposefully as well. In fiction writing, I hate prompts, but they do make blogging easy. I can create my own prompts to blog about.

A lot of what comes my way through my RSS feeds does fall into my focal areas, since I’ve chosen who to follow based on shared interests. This style of reading broadly without intent supports blogging that synthesizes many sources through filtering and pattern-matching for insights. This type of writing is connective (and valuable), but doesn’t necessarily go deep. I want to also do more directed thinking: to set out on my reading with a question to intentionally research, a hypothesis of my own to investigate. For now I’m adventuring through content, seeing what there is to see. That’s a good place to start; sometimes, now I have the lay of the land, I should also pursue quests.


Do cats have social contagion with humans?

I just yawned, then my cat did. Happenstance or social contagion?