1. The Emotional Rainbow

    June 5, 2014

    The Emotional Rainbow

    by Daniela Aneis

    One of the most common critiques and one of the most wrong ones is that the Positive Psychology movement ignores negative emotions to simply focus on positive emotions. This is quite untrue. What Positive Psychology wishes to do is take the focus out of negative emotions to take a better look at what positive emotions have to offer in terms of human development.

    But what we really do need is to learn how to cope with the emotional rainbow that our nature has to offers us. The negative and the positive emotions. They are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary.

    Good or bad emotions?

    Actually there is no such thing as good or bad emotions, only the necessary ones. Or at least that’s what I tell my patients. Emotions are centered in the most primitive part of our brains (yes, reasoning came after in evolutionary terms) and yet it is one of the most crucial parts of our brain. Can you imagine calling yourself human and not being able to feel anything?

    Remember the “fight-or-flight” mechanism, so necessary to our survival as a species? We don’t need to assess in a jungle if that big animal is to eat or is planning on eating you, but our emotions still serve their purpose in our “social survival”. It’s still a jungle out there, only the rules are not as simple as they used to be.

    (more…)


  2. The Physiology of Emotions

    May 22, 2013

    emotions

    by Kady Babs

    We often feel pressure in our bodies as a result of strong emotional experiences. When we are embarrassed we describe it as a “blush” and during intense anger we refer to a “pounding” in the temples. Most often people report a ‘knot” in the stomach when frightened, and when they nervous they experience “butterflies”. These are the simple extreme examples from the common man’s experiences. There are, of course, a number of physiological changes that take place during emotions.

     

    Emotions and the Autonomic Nervous System

     

    The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) regulates the body’s internal environment and usually functioning without conscious control. It has two divisions, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Both have broadly the opposite effects. The sympathetic division dominates during emergency or stress and promotes energy expenditure.

    The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) encourages the increase of blood sugar, heart heat and blood pressure required for sustained physical activity. But at the same time it inhibits the process of digestion. On the contrary the PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System) dominates during relaxation and promotes energy conservation, it brings down the heartbeat rate and blood flow to the skeletal muscles also promoting digestion. Most of the physiological changes associated with strong emotion such as intense fear and anger are caused by activation of the parasympathetic division.

     

    Brain Structure and Emotion

     

    The ANS mainly triggers the physiological changes in emotions. The ANS is coordinated by the brain. The hypothalamus, in particular, and some areas of the limbic system are involved in a number of emotional reactions, such as anger, fear and aggression.

    In cases of exaggerated emotional behaviour in human beings, damage to certain limbic areas was found. Such damage can take place before, during or just after birth. It can arise from a variety of causes including diseases affecting brain. Drug abuse, trauma due to auto accident, athletic injuries or gunshot wounds also cause such damages. Charles Whitman of University of Texas was the man who killed his wife and mother one night. Next morning he climbed to top of campus tower with a powerful rifle with telescopic sight. From there he proceeded to fire at every thing that moved. After one and half hour when he was finally shot down by the police he had killed 38 people. Although he had received psychiatric treatment for the last many months, an autopsy revealed a malignant tumor on the amygdala, part of the limbic system.

    Psychologists believed that brain’s control over emotions was largely through hypothalamus and amygdala but recently it has become clear that cerebral cortex is initially involved as well. The most interesting discovery is that the cortex’s role in emotion is asymmetrical. That is the left side contributes more to positive feelings while the right side contributes more to the negative ones. Those who suffer extensive damage to the right cerebral hemisphere are often quite acid and dare free in mood. That means that euphoric emotions are greatly influenced by left brain activity. Injury to right brain may serve to dis-inhibit or let free.

     

    Author Bio: Kady Babs works for Self Test Training, where you can get Apple certifications and training by qualified and professional support. Kady is avid blogger and she writes on psychology, mental health, and brain research topics.

    Image Credit: Natalie Jordan