Reflecting on a number of observations, I’ve come up with a testable hypothesis (for once in my long-winded life). Pretty simple one, too: a cold body activates the amygdala and the fight/flight response. Ambient cold isn’t enough, because otherwise we wouldn’t sleep so well under warm blankets in a cold room. The body must be uncomfortably cold. Here are the observations:
1. Back in my martial arts days, I would take cold showers to simulate the shock of immediate and unexpected danger. There’s nothing like that first moment when the pipes sputter and the freezing water hits (colder than your imagination had anticipated)…nothing, that is, except the moment when you notice people’s movements are taking on the surreal quality that always means “violence is happening”. Crack! Crack Crack! Gunshots- and we’ve all been transported to a lower realm of existence without asking for it or even thinking about it.
2. Activation of the amygdala creates reality-focus and offers a counterintuitive, simultaneous boost in receptivity to metaphysical ideas. I first noticed this when I was rereading the Berserk series and discovered that, corresponding to a lingering sense of horror, math was suddenly much easier to grok and perform. Somehow, watching an artist’s depiction of a torture chamber full of people getting eaten by demons prompts the same neural pathway (straight to the intuitive hindbrain) as getting buzzed by a C-5 on the highway. This concentration boost seems to be most effective in psychotic-type geniuses like myself, and would tend to explain the obvious psychoticism that manifests in the families of forced prodigies, and would be a complicating factor in their predictable burnouts.
3. Amygdala activation opens a different memory-allocation pathway, corresponding to emotional events. (A further theory suggests this pathway is the source of eidetic memory.) Recall of emotional memories through ordinary, adult, semantic pathways seems to distort the memories somehow. Similarly, memories of cold things are difficult to access except when I’m emotionally aroused, and vice versa.
4. Rather than acting more sensibly, as I’d expected, it is easily observable that many (urban) Minnesotans go completely nuts in the winter. I’d go as far as far as saying this is the ordinary response in modern Americans, being narcissistic, overconfident, fearless degenerates. This is merely anecdotal, but I’m starting to notice that narcissism predicts a low tolerance for cold (intuitively controlling for other big factors on cold tolerance, like race). This completes the circle with Anonymous Conservative’s theory. In practice, this feedback loop leads to some bewildering feedback-loop behaviors. After all, narcissists are constitutionally unable to plan ahead, or foresee negative consequences, and are therefore likely to dress poorly for bad weather.
You’re might be familiar with the guys in high school or in da cloughb scene who brave the winter cold in just a muscle shirt. They are hijacking their own amygdalas through bad decisions! This is in contrast to the thrillseeker archetype, which we must disambiguate for the purpose of observation. Thrillseekers enjoy amygdala activation for the adrenaline rush and for social approval- if they are dressed poorly for the weather (and have an audience) they will most likely be smiling, accompanied by a sadistic glint in the eyes. Opposite to this, cold narcissists are extremely confrontational to the point of seeming butthurt.
This sort of amygdala activation seems categorically different from the sort of social anxiety that seems to be endemic to Amud-style T-fronts like polymath, Glenn, slampropp, Koanic, etc. For one thing, the social anxiety feedback loop is obviously an amygdala hijack of a different sort from the narcissist’s, with separate causes and symptoms. This could be because Amuds have both large and complex amygdalas (in necessary support of large frontal lobes), whereas older thal types merely have large amygdalas (predisposing for paranoia and psychosis?).