Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Are Emotions

Emotions are body based physical processes that have evolved with the evolution of our body.  They originate from the center of our brain in what is called the limbic system.  Emotions communicate our self to the world through relationships we have with others and the things around us.  Sometimes emotions are adaptive and helpful while other times they can be misguided.

According to Paul Ekman, a psychologist who studied emotions and facial experessions, concluded there are 6 primary emotions from which all other emotions originate.  These are  as follows.
  1. Happiness - a state of the mind of well being having positive emotions.
  2. Surprise - something felt that is unexpected for a very short duration.
  3. Sadness - emotional pain from loss, hopelessness, despair, rage and sorry.
  4. Anger - a powerful emotion from being wronged, hurt, offended or denied.
  5. Disgust - emotion for something that is considered to be offensive.
  6. Fear - a reaction to a perceived threat

In the 1990's, Ekman revised his list to include the following.
  1. Amusement - Finding something funny, enjoyable or humorous.
  2. Contempt - Finding a person or group of people inferior or worthless.
  3. Contentment - Shown by satisfaction, safety and inner peace.
  4. Embarrassment - Intense discomfort with yourself.
  5. Excitement - Something that arouses a feeling.
  6. Guilt - Resulting from causing an offense on someone else.
  7. Pride in achievement - Inner sense of attachment to choices or actions.
  8. Relief - When a physical or psychological burden is removed.
  9. Satisfaction - Fulfillment or gratification of a desire or need.
  10. Sensory pleasure - Sensation of the senses for satisfaction or enjoyment.
  11. Shame - Painful feeling of humiliation caused by foolish actions.

Emotions are universal but it is most likely safe to assume that different cultures allow or influence emotions to be expressed or suppressed.  Sometimes we are taught or conditioned from an early age, that emotions are not good.  Conditioning can be so powerful and subtle that we are not able to see it taking place.

Emotions allow us to experience life and to experience it in ways that would normally be missed.  If we learn to allow our emotions to hold a normal place in our life, they will be our friends.  If we try to suppress our emotions, we will force them to be our physical enemy.

I realize when I asked the question at the beginning, "what are emotions", the little bit that I wrote in this blog is just one small little tip of the ice berg.  There is so much more that could be said and considerable research being done in the area of emotions.  Hopefully this will just spark your interest to read further.

Related Blog Posts
1)  Illusion Of Emotions (Jul 27, 2011)
2)  Men And Women Cry Differently (May 25, 2011)
3)  Emotional Pain Is Physical Pain (Apr 18, 2011)

Blog Post & Images (c) 10/15/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

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