Working with Jupiter (2): Reward, Anorexia and the Present Moment

Jupiter represents our hope for rewards, and the feelings they generate such as optimism and enthusiasm. A recent article on the reward circuitry of the brain makes me think that Jupiter also has to do with our ability to recognize and process the experience of reward.

In a research done on anorexia, women with a history of anorexia was asked to play a game involving a simple reward structure (i.e. guess if a hidden number was greater or less than five; they would win $2 for every correct guess and lose $1 for each incorrect answer). The following is quoted from Scientific American Mind, June/July 2008 issue* (brackets mine):

“The women in the control group [i.e. people that ate normally] responded appropriately to their wins and losses with commentaries akin to “Yeah, I won!” or “Bummer, I lost.” Those reactions were reflected in the participants’ brains: the wins lit up a central brain region called the anterior ventral striatum, which contributes to the processing of immediate rewards, whereas the losses did not.

In contrast, the women who had once had anorexia did not express joy when they won or disappointment when they lost, and their brains were similarly undiscriminating: the anterior ventral striatum of these women looked the same irrespective of the outcome of each game trial, indicating that their emotional unresponsiveness to rewards was rooted in their reward circuitry.”

So in the latter case, these people’s ability to feel the sensation of reward seems to have atrophied somehow (the experience of winning was there, but the ability to appreciate it wasn’t.) The article went on to say that former anorexia patients’ brain had more activity in the part of the brain that had to do with long-term planning and evaluation during the game was being played: “The finding is consistent with anorexics’ tendency to live in the future, planning for all contingencies, and to largely disregard the present.”

The obsession with the long-term consequence (an imbalance of the Saturn function) could cause us to lose touch with the present moment, where the ability to experience the reward can be found. It is interesting that the continual thoughts of the future could actually lead to apathy in the present.

Conclusion

The above research suggests that if we want to activate the Jupiter function – i.e. feel rewarded in life, we need to be good at finding and appreciating the small victories in our everyday life – that might be setting a series of small, achievable goals every day, or making people around you laugh, or playing that favorite song well. How many “Yeah, I won!” could we fit in our day?

A lot of self help books emphasize the value of long term planning and goals (Saturn likes that) – this research suggests that short term wins are just as important in life – for what fun is any achievement if we can’t feel the joy of reward? It’s an ability that is worth exercising every day.


*The article quoted here is “Addicted to Starvation” by Trisha Gura, p61 of the said magazine.

About Hiroki Niizato

Hiroki Niizato is a professional consulting astrologer in Florida, serving clients in US and abroad. He has been practicing astrology professionally since 2001. Hiroki is a highest honor graduate of the demanding Master’s Degree Certification Course in Astrology by Noel Tyl.

You can contact Hiroki via email at: Hiroki@hniizato.com or Phone: 727-470-4056 to ask a question or schedule a consultation.

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