Thoughts on the feeling of ‘nausea’

Oftentimes, I will say that this or that “nauseated” me.  Perhaps its a policy of the government or an advertisement or something someone told me.  It can be about almost anything.  It’s an emotion that has often perplexed and mystified me.  There have been times that I have even said, “It’s so nauseating that I could have vomited”. 

I’ve always wondered what the quality of something that makes it ‘nauseating’.  Not only that, I’ve wondered what the characteristics of this emotion are and what it reveals.

It’s not uncommon to confront things in life that are ‘nauseating’.  For some people this emotion can be so dominating a theme that it creates ‘nausea’ as a way of life, as the emotion permeates their lives and interpretation of things.  It can even affect a nation’s character as I think nausea is common quality in the American character.  It can also be seen in a specific age group, such as adolescence.  It can even be seen in a specific group of people, such as the poorer working classes. 

In general, I’ve found that there are many qualities and characteristics that create the sense of ‘nausea’.  These include:

  • Nausea is a reaction to something being posed to you, that is requiring your ‘approval’.  Usually, it is as if something is asking us to approve that it is correct.  This may not necessarily be asked of us directly though.  The important thing is that we perceive it that way.  We feel that it makes a demand of us to make a decision.  ‘Nausea’ is the answer.
  • As such, it has a quality of something trying to convince us.  This something has many manifestations.  It could be a person, a government, a fact, a belief, a morality, and even a condition in life.  In general, it is perceived as having some form of authority over us (that is, something we must obey).
  • This something is expecting us to believe something but we can’t believe it.  It often has a sense as if something is trying to fool us or ‘pull the wool over our eyes’.  
  • We want to believe what it says but we can’t for some reason.  We’re wanting to believe but can’t. 
  • There is also a sense that there is a trusting toward the thing that wants us to believe what it’s saying.  If we didn’t ‘trust’ it then we wouldn’t feel nausea.  This means nausea is a result of putting ones faith in something and, in a way, being disappointed. 
  • Because we have so much trust we as if ‘give up’ oneself to this authority much like an infant gives themselves up to the power of the parent.  As a result, nausea has a quality of a loss of a sense of self within the authority.  This shows it has very ‘infantile’-like qualities.
  • Generally, nausea is a reaction that is thoughtless.  That is to say, it is an immediate ‘gut’ reaction, seldom based on any thought or rational act.  Because of this, nausea has a tendency to be intuitive, reflecting a deep inner sense of things.  This give nausea a deep inner quality oftentimes. 

Looking at this, we can see that nausea has this association:

The person – – – – belief – – – – authority

As a result, we can see that nausea reflects a problem with the association with authority and the belief that sustains authority.  Oftentimes, nausea is a sign of problems of belief and authority, either in the person or society.  This is one reason why this attitude is so prevalent in the U.S., a country steeped in rebelling against authority.

Nausea seems to display itself in two ways:

  1. Nausea toward something else other than oneself.
  2. Nausea toward oneself.

The former is, by far, the most obvious as many things nauseate us:  the government, advertisement, people’s behaviour, etc.  The latter is harder to delineate.  When we have nausea toward ourself it generally shows that one part of ourself does not ‘agree’ with another part of ourself.  As a result, it shows something like an ‘interior schism’.  Typically, this nausea is projected out onto the world, making it seem that something other than oneself is the cause of it.  Generally, I’ve found that if a person has an overall ‘nauseaous’ quality, it means that the nausea comes from within. 

Nausea is very closely associated with emotions like contempt, disgust, revulsion, and being ‘sickened’ by things.  I tend to believe that what makes nausea different in quality than these emotions is its infantile quality – the ‘giving up of oneself’.  In other words, in nausea there is a loss of a sense of self which makes it different from the emotions above.  But, in ‘giving up ourselves’ a part of our self refuses to do just that and so there is like a tension within ourselves, of a part of us that wants to ‘give oneself up’ and the other part that doesn’t.  Perhaps, in many ways, nausea is created by this dilemma?  It’s like the infantile part of us (that wants to immerse themselves in the authority) is in conflict with the grown up part of ourselves (that wants to be removed from authority and a separate person).  In that sense, nausea can reflect a problem of the self, of growing, and of moving away from the infantile tendencies we all have.  This is probably why its seen a lot in the teenage years.  

I have often felt that the sense of nausea reflects its very strong infantile qualities.  Our first assocation with the world, really, is through our stomach.  As infants our stomachs “rule” us and determines our behaviour.  Through it we associate with the world.  As we grow up we find other ways to associate with the world but, yet, its association is still there.  In nausea it seems that this old association is again displayed.  Its as if this infantile tendency creates the sense of nausea.

Nausea is an emotion of revulsion.  Nausea is a problem of the stomach, of the ingestion of food.  It’s what we feel when our body is trying to ‘expel’ the food we ate.  It’s a reaction, then, the preludes that fact of getting something bad out of us.  And so, physically, we feel nausea as a revulsion to something we ate, as a prelude to vomiting it.  But when we feel the emotion of ‘nausea’ we are doing a revulsion of a different sort:  the expelling of a condition we feel.

Often, nausea is mixed in with other emotions making it almost difficult to see, such as disgust, rebellion, hate, and anger.  Often, it is nausea that motivates other emotions and behaviours in people.  It also seems to me that nausea is behind alot of peoples conflicts and attitudes today.  Many ‘pissy’, bad, or poor attitudes seem to have nausea as its original source.  It has created whole attitudes in people.  Many people from the 70’s generation (that were round about 20 during that time), for example, seem to have this as a general attitude, almost a defining trait.  No doubt, the political problems and disppointments of the time period created that nausea.

I think that it often takes a particular type of person to really feel nausea.  It seems that a person needs to be of a more introverted inclination who ‘listens to themselves’.  People who are extroverted and don’t ‘listen to themselves’ seem to not feel it that much (as near as I can tell).  Their ‘nausea’ seems to be blended with other emotions, as if disguised by them.  This again shows that nausea often goes by unnoticed and unrecognized by many people.

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