Self-identity or personal perception of self, is considered as a mental representation individuals hold about themselves, their self-perceived worth, and who they think they are. This identity, affects what people feel, what they crave, their degree of self-governance, how productive they are, and more. Scientific studies have explained how complex neural networks in the brain, hormones, and chemical biomarkers influence how humans develop a sense of self-identity, motivation, and self-control, from childhood through to adulthood. Research evidence has shown that thyroid hormones act in concert with neurotransmitters and other hormones to regulate mood, behaviour, perception, and emotion. This all meaning, that the best way to know true self-identity is by experiencing who you are, independent of any impairments in neural and hormonal components. Understanding the role of the thyroid hormones in patients, helps researchers better understand the thyroidal influence on cravings and biological reward-seeking behaviour. Optimizing thyroid health with the TriFixx™ line of nutraceuticals, can help you better understand who you are, your self-identity, and the factors which drive you.
The inscription above is known by many, but only a few grasp the meaning it originally connotes. Not only is this a bit funny, but it is also unsettling that people use this phrase many times in speeches, promptings, social gatherings, and even in discipleship sessions. Popular, but with a meaning lost in transmission, many times, plenty of times. In a world of 7 billion people, it is not entirely surprising that there is enough distraction to take away people’s focus from the meaning this instruction is trying to convey.
In this piece, we will attempt a crucial examination of this instruction, how it affects the sense of self-identity, and how it links with the different personality traits in humans. We will take a step further into modern medicine, discussing how self-identity and self-blame are both linked to emotions, cravings, and self-control. In a bid to better understand how personal well-being can affect your sense of self-identity, we will also explore research links on how the thyroid gland controls emotions, cravings, and personal perception. It will be a long journey, but it will be definitely worth the ride!
The Psychology of Self, Emotions, and Cravings
The instruction is found in an inscription in the Temple of Apollo in Delhi. It has reportedly stayed here on this ancient landmark for over 2,500 years, with millions of tourists and faithful religious individuals reading and pondering on these words. Over the last few decades, the effort to properly decipher the meaning of this phrase has travelled beyond Delhi. Psychologists have tried to propound behavioural theories from it, motivational coaches have included it in their briefings, and medical therapists have used it repeatedly in cognitive behavioural classes. But the questions remain;
How does one truly know oneself?
How does knowing oneself affect one’s quality of life?
How exactly does knowing oneself affect the sense of self-identity?
Self-identity or personal perception of self is considered as a mental representation individuals hold about themselves, their self-perceived worth, and who they think they are. Sometimes, this description is expanded to cover self-attributions, autobiographical memories, recurrent thoughts, emotions, personality traits, cravings and beliefs, and motivations. The list of features that define this concept is limitless (Vignoles, 2011). Worthy of mention, is the documented link between self-identity and habits. According to many human behavioural studies, habits and self-identities are sometimes inseparable, and one can easily point to the other. A strong motivation, sustained by a sense of belief in one's action, can cause repeated actions that develop as habits. These habits may function as tools for self-control and a marker of true identity to a third party (Neal et al., 2012).
Identity versions can also exist in the past, present, and future. A lot of criteria, as an observer, helps pay critical attention to a person’s true identity, what they feel, what they crave, and how these feelings affect their sense of self-control and self-governance. The complexities explain how a person’s self-identity can affect their emotions, cravings, and productivity levels at different times of the day. Many studies explained that one’s identity feelings are dynamic, changing in connection with available motivations and sense of duty. This argument holds that a person’s self-identity in the early hours of the day might be dreamy, and later that day at work, might be fully motivated and fully conscious. This complex dynamism expands the theory that what we feel as humans sometimes depends on a lot of factors – including the environment, personal well-being, and the motivation available (Mardi, 2012).
The argument supporting how well-being impacts self-identity is important to this article. In a 2018 study report published by the Journal of Child Development Perspectives, researchers examined the link between the development of self-identity in adolescence and the neural evidence connected to this development. The research explained how complex neural networks in the brain influence how humans develop a sense of self-identity, motivation, and self-control from childhood through to adulthood (Jennifer et al., 2018). This study identified why some variations in self-control, self-blame, and self-identity exist in adults. One of these explanations conceptualizes behaviour as a competition between physiologically developing neural networks linked with reward sensitivity and cognitive control in adulthood. An interplay between these systems manifests as identity and habits sustained throughout a person’s lifetime (Shulman et al., 2016).
Another explanation relevant to this piece in adults includes the acknowledgment of a neural ability to process social information in different ways. This network helps humans process social information to better understand social orientations about self-identity, known to be expressed in adults. These orientations are propagated and expanded through the societal lens, beyond the remote influence of peer, family, and cultural identities (Nelson et al., 2016). More simply, these explanations try to explain self-identity as an interplay between cognition, neural networks, and pre-existing identities that dominate the social scene. Many times, the identities finally developed in individuals that tow this path are beyond those found in their remote environment. Sometimes, they are advanced modifications to the remote identities expressed by the family and peers. One thing stands significant in all these hypotheses explaining self-identity; the well-being of an individual has a big role to play in the process of forming self-identities.
How Medical Science Studies and Measures Emotions
How exactly does medical science fit into a discussion about self-identity, self-control, cravings, perceptions, and emotions? The point is since the development of cognitive-behavioural therapies and other treatment modalities that attempt to modify behaviours, medicine and psychology have always interchanged ideas. The line of division between these fields continues to become blurrier and unmarked. Since discussions about how humans develop a sense of self-identity have consistently identified the role of a neural network, this is where medical science comes in.
The idea about a neural network as identified by different psychological theories has been explained to include a network of complex brain signals, events at life stages, and the interplay of regulatory hormones. By studying how these complexes affect emotion, behaviour, and cravings; medical science can better explain how biology impacts our perceptions and emotional comprehension of events. To explain this relationship, it is important to examine how the brain and hormone systems help shape behaviour and emotion in humans.
Adolescence is considered a crucial stage for the development of self-identity, personal goals, social orientations, and motivations. At the end of this development, an adult must have conceived a personal measure of self-consciousness and a measure of others’ perception of them. It is safe to conclude that the physiological activities of the brain and the hormonal influence responsible for forging self-identity, as mentioned earlier, peaks during this stage. It is important to study these two complexes during this stage of life.
- Neural Influence on Behaviour and Emotions
In a 2019 research paper published by the Journal of Child Development, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the complexities of neural correlates of direct and reflected self-appraisals in adolescence and adulthood. Research results suggest that adults demonstrated greater activity in networks relevant to self-perception (medial prefrontal and parietal cortices) and social-cognition (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, temporal-parietal junction, and posterior superior temporal sulcus). This result suggests that in the build-up to defining one’s true identity, adults may draw more input from other peoples’ perspectives about who they are (Pfeifer et al., 2009). This conclusion agrees with earlier observations that neural activities in developing youth at the medial prefrontal and parietal cortices regions are more pronounced during self-evaluations in youths experiencing depression (Quevedo et al., 2016).
Many other studies are examining the activity patterns of neural networks in the brain at different stages of self-evaluation in humans. Another study documented how responses to self-evaluations in the rostral/pregenual and ventral striatum were stable from age 10 to 13. Activities in the medial prefrontal and parietal cortices regions also increase over time during evaluations of self-identity in adults with advanced pubertal development. These findings all suggest that biological factors such as neural brain networks and the social sphere, may affect how an individual perceives self-control, self-identity, motivation, and self-consciousness. Further studies have suggested that the neural activities that form a component of self-identity, can be different with each life stage, e.g. the temporal-parietal junction and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex are more active in children’s and adolescent’s self-identity developments, versus in adults, where these regions are primarily involved in socializing and evaluating others (Pfeifer et al. 2007).
- Hormonal Influence on Behaviour on Emotions
The link between hormones, and other biological chemicals on mood, behaviour, and emotion, is a popular research theme in human medicine. To better understand how these hormones can influence a personal perception of self-identity, we must explore this theme. The neural argument of self-identity has established the connection between brain activities and personal measures of motivation, self-control, self-consciousness, and emotions. Examining research evidence linking these concepts with hormonal activities can help us redefine self-identity and propose methods to modify it.
One of the earliest research works examining the hormonal influence on mood and behaviour was published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. This extensive study directly examined the relationship among mood, behaviour, pubertal development, and hormonal levels in 100 adolescent girls aged 10.6 to 13.3 years. Oestradiol secretion stages and pubertal stages of breast development were used as distribution variables and a marker of hormonal level. Research results showed a significant curvilinear trend for depressive affect, impulse control, and psychopathology (Warren et al., 1989). The variations in mood and behaviour expressed suggest that hormonal changes may be important as determinants of mood and behaviour patterns, as humans develop through the life stages. By establishing a link between hormonal influence, mood, and emotion; this research also suggests a link between hormonal levels and perception of self-identity in humans. This latter theme was the subject of many subsequent types of research. If hormones and other chemical markers in the body can affect our behaviours and mood, then it is safe to reason that our perception of self can be determined by prevailing hormonal levels. Psychology has already established mood, motivation, and behaviour as a component of self-identity.
So which hormones directly affect mood, behaviour, neural activities, and our emotions? For many females at puberty, the journey starts with estrogen. Thus, primary sex hormones are released from the ovaries. It improves the levels of serotonin and endorphins – chemicals associated with happiness and positive mood. Oestrone, oestradiol, and estriol are similar in activity to estrogen; however, estrogen has displayed the highest potency. Estrogen is also linked to mood disruptions in women, as seen in premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and postpartum depression. Perhaps, the most important link between estrogen and behaviour is its controlling effect on other hormones that affect mood and behaviour. Estrogen helps the body maintain levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Progesterone is another important studied as a marker of mood, behaviour, and self-identity. It is produced within the ovaries and plays a key role in reproduction. While estrogen induces an excitatory effect on the brain, progesterone has an opposite effect – a calming effect. It directly interacts with the brain to regulate mood and behaviour. An imbalance of the normal progesterone-estrogen level in the brain is considered a principal factor in the expression of anxiety, depression, and motivation. This balance also has a contributory effect on motivation, mood, and perception. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter known for its controlling effect on mood, focus, attention, memory, and reward. Dopamine has also been linked with regulatory networks controlling cravings, apathy, cognition, vigilance, impulsivity, compulsive behaviour, and alertness. The complexity of its action on multiple components of self-identity and perception makes it important in the study of hormonal influence on the perception of self-identity and self-consciousness.
Testosterone is produced by the testes in men and to a smaller extent in the ovaries in women. The reproductive functions of this hormone are well known by many. However, biological actions of testosterone beyond reproduction are of more relevance to the scope of this article. This hormone influences the part of the brain responsible for regulating emotions (Celec et al., 2015). An imbalance in the physiological levels of testosterone has been linked with the onset of aggressiveness, impulsivity, anger, mood swings, and depression in humans. This explains how testosterone can influence a personal perception of mood, self-identity, and self-control. Other important hormones and neurotransmitters with studied links to mood, emotion, behaviour, and motivation include: epinephrine, norepinephrine, thyroid hormones, oxytocin, acetylcholine, and GABA.
Thyroidal Impacts on Emotions, Mood and Behaviour
In recent years, medical inquiries into the influence of thyroid hormones on mood and behaviour have increased significantly. Although the results from these studies call for more investigations, results are suggesting that the thyroid hormone has a contributory effect on mood, emotions, and motivation. Medical Hypotheses published one of the early studies on this research theme in the year 2000. The authors of this research investigated how the thyroid hormones play any role, if it does, on seasonal changes in mood and behaviour. The results from this research suggest that there exists a complex interaction between the thyroid hormones and seasonal changes in mood and behaviour. This interaction is also involving many neurotransmitters and other chemical markers of the brain neural networks. (Sher, 2000).
An important pointer of thyroidal function on emotion and behaviour is the neuropsychiatric symptom commonly diagnosed in people with thyroid disorders. Primary thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, may be accompanied by behavioural dysfunction ranging from mild depression and anxiety. In a 2010 survey, researchers found out that an Italian population with subclinical hypothyroidism has a prevalence of 63.5% for depressive symptoms. Therapy with levothyroxine demonstrated a total remission of depressive patients. The exact mechanism of thyroidal influence on neural control of emotion, mood, and behaviour has not been fully understood. However, research evidence has shown that thyroid hormones act in concert with neurotransmitters and other hormones to regulate mood, behaviour, perception, and emotion. With regards to the theme of this article, it is safe to conclude that thyroidal health is important in the determination of the right perspective about self-control and self-identity.
Thyroidal Health and Personality Traits
Personality traits are very important in the aim of determining who we are. These traits project our emotion, behaviour, and mood as a single package for others. Psychological hypotheses explain that factors that affect personality traits also contribute immensely to the development of mood, behaviour, and emotion. In simple terms, personality traits go a long way in knowing who we all are. The concept of self can be very vague, but if defined within the boundaries of health, and social influence, the concept becomes more definitive.
Within the boundaries of health, thyroid hormones have consistently been linked with the development of personality traits in humans. One of the studies linking thyroid hormones with personality traits in humans was published in 2015 by the Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism. This study directly explored the relationship between hormones of the thyroid axis and alcohol-seeking behaviours in alcohol-dependent patients. Understanding the role of the thyroid hormones in these patients was expected to help researchers better understand the thyroidal influence on cravings and biological reward-seeking behaviour. These two measures help clinicians better categorize alcoholics into different personality classes. A true sense of self-control and self-identity can then be created by modifying the biological determinants of these measures.
For this study, forty-two treatment-seeking alcoholics were considered, with their blood levels of thyroid hormones measured before and after treatment. Using different tools in research and evaluation, depression, aggression, number of drinks consumed, and measure of craving was evaluated for each participant. At the end of this study, patients who abstained showed a greater change in thyroid hormone levels compared with patients who relapsed. Research result suggests that hormones of the thyroid axis represent a biomarker of alcohol craving and drinking (Aoun et al., 2015). Other personality traits have been linked with repeated behaviours and cravings in humans. In all the studies examining these traits, hormones that control the craving and repeated behaviours (habits) associated with these traits were thoroughly studied. Hormones of the thyroid gland have been implicated in the regulation of these behaviours.
Who You Are
Self-identity might have a lot of factors contributing to its real definition. However, to know who you are, the neural and hormonal components that regulate emotions, cravings, motivation, mood, and perception must be optimally functional. This means the best way to know true self-identity is by experiencing who you are, independent of any impairments in these neural and hormonal components. If the brain and hormones have been proven to directly affect your perception of self-identity and self-consciousness, then the brain and hormones should be adequately cared for.
Optimizing thyroid health can help in your quest to fulfilling the ancient inscription on the wall in Delhi’s Temple of Apollo: 'Know Thyself’. TriFixx™, created by a renown thyroid specialist, offers consumers free symptom surveys, wherein they can attain a gauge on where they sit when it comes to their thyroid health. Should they score as showing that their thyroid could benefit from support; the TriFixx™ line of nutraceuticals, offers terrific solutions, which include all of the ingredients, in the right proportions, to ensure optimal uptake and efficacy. If you would like to see if you too, could get to know yourself better; head to www.trifixx.com.
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