The Mental Construction model (on the left) displays the levels and relationships that our brain and mind use to handle daily life.
Let’s start at the base, 3S Imperatives. Satisfaction of material needs (food, water) and Sexual urges are physical urges originating in the earliest organisms (exhibited in our brainstems) and continue to control broad swaths of our behaviors. Safety (fight-or-flight) became a behavioral feature when organisms could remember and relate current situations to ones in the past. This required memory, a feature requiring the hippocampus in the limbic system. It doesn’t come fully functional for people until 3-5 years of age. One last point: the advances of civilization has made hunger manageable and danger intermittent.
The middle section–Needs, Desires, and Fears–are the psychological forms that the 3S Imperatives take in daily life. For instance, we desire a good job. That desire doesn’t immediately satisfy our hunger, but it will lead to that. A good job also could increase our chance of satisfying our sexual imperative. This demonstrates an important principle. A need, desire, or fear needn’t meet just one of our physical imperatives. A related consequence is that a situation will usually not satisfy all our imperatives at once.
The peak of cognition, it comes at the last and is predicated on the outputs of the lower levels, is split between logical and similar. Logical is the word-based view of the world with actions-and-reactions connected deductively. Similar is short-hand for another method of thinking, using associations to inductively draw conclusions. Mammals use similarity, only. Logic always leads to a valid conclusion if we start from valid premises. However, often we don’t have the necessary information, then we must use inductive similarities. Induction incurs a price, sometimes our conclusions will be wrong.
In another post, I discuss two alternative mental processing models, the triune brain and dual process models.