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3. What is the difference between thoughts and feelings?

Emotions or feelings are often distinguished from thoughts. Emotions are typically considered the irrational or animal part of humans, while thoughts are the rational part. Strong feelings such as anger, joy, fear, and sadness result in behaviors that do not seem to always serve one’s interests. Thoughts are the words in the head that give mental content to hopes, dreams, and desires.

Thoughts allow you to reason and weigh options so you can assess consequences before taking actions. Scientists now know through experiments and clinical observation that thoughts, feelings, and perceptions coexist as a unified whole and cannot be easily teased apart. Thus every thought is given a positive or negative emotional valence that allows us to prioritize our actions upon those thoughts. Evidence in support of that comes from the fields of neurology and the computer sciences.

Neurological studies have shown that people who suffered brain damage that cut thoughts off from feelings are unable to prioritize a list of preferences and act upon them in order to achieve even the simplest of goals.

Even a simple task, like choosing a restaurant, is impossible for such people because they are trapped in a never-ending cost-benefit analysis of numerous and conflicting options. Computer programmers have similarly struggled to develop simple algorithms that can generate decisions appropriately weighing costs and benefits without becoming buried underneath an infinite loop of ones and zeros. Emotions are therefore a necessary piece that works with thoughts in decision making and hence planning of future goals.


Neurological - referring to all matters of the nervous system that includes brain, brain stem, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Problems with specific, identifiable pathophysiological processes are generally considered to be neurological as opposed to psychiatric. Problems with elements of both pathophysiological and psychiatric manifestations are considered to be neuro-psychiatric.

Algorithm - a sequence of steps to follow when is approaching a particular problem.





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