the blog Synergy

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The labyrinth of emotions

Emotional life is still a realm full of uncertainties for many people. It is probably one of those things that most people understand as long as they age.

Last week our friend Sean made some questions to me concerning emotions. He found out that there are six basic emotions, four negative, one neutral and one positive (joy).

As I have been interested in the emotional side of experience his was my answer:

1. Your e-mail was very interesting. You distinguish six emotions, 4 dangerous, one neutral and one positive. I don't know exactly how many emotions there can exist. As anthropologists Catherine Lutz and Jean L.Briggs have found out, the naming and classifying of emotions has a lot to do with the distinctions prevailing in a certain culture. Language helps to build a culture of emotions, and of course a social Dictionary of emotional experiences or states. The most exhaustive list of emotional terms I have come across was written by Spinoza in his Ethics. That is almost a complete dictionary of affective states.

2. I agree with you that when you make exercise, your emotional tone changes for the better. There is in any person what we could call soul, and that psychoanalists like Heinz Kohut called the Self. When you strengthen you self, your soul shines and your emotional experience of events becomes enhanced. Eastern cultures have deepend far more than we have done in terms of relating self satisfaction and simple techniques like breathing or body movement.

3. Sensual touch as Joseph Lichtenberg has stated, is a source of joy and of self strengthening. You can read about this in his book "Psychoanalysis and motivation". It provides joy and liberates our soul from defensive barriers. It makes us enjoy the situation and our relationship toward things.

4. Negative emotions such as hate or shame have a semiotic value. They are signs of some kind of relationship between you and your fate, the things that happen to you, the way you relate to the world. They are difficult to handle. Jung talked about people having a function of their personality underdeveloped. He called that the inferior function. According to Jung's model, some people feel unable to manage their own emotions, they cannot differentiate between the cause of an emotion for instance, and their experience of it (their symptoms to say it simply).

5. This is why Systemic Psychologists such as Yvonne Agazarian talk about working on that differentiation by narrating the experience, the source of it and becoming familiar with the event that triggered the emotion. That is a socratic approach, as long as the symptom is dissoluted rather than a solution found.

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