Uses of Emotion: Nature's Vital Gift

Uses of Emotion: Nature's Vital Gift

Uses of Emotion: Nature's Vital Gift

Uses of Emotion: Nature's Vital Gift

Synopsis

Isaacs' simple realistic premise is that because emotion is a built-in mental process, it is always useful. He explores the why and how of those uses. Old questions in psychology are more satisfactorily answered and new questions are asked and answered. Among the many implications of the book we discern a broad panorama of new views about how personality develops, what are psychological health, illness, and effective treatment of disorders. Isaacs includes a never-before achieved clear path to prevention of a broad array of symptom disorders.

Excerpt

No chapter in the typical introductory psychology textbook bedevils my college students as much as the one carrying the seductively plain title, "Emotion." The bear that caused a frightened William James to run through the woods continues to terrorize undergraduate students to this day, at least those serious students who work at trying to make sense of this chapter. Many give up in despair, which is a shame because young adults have a deep longing to come to grips with the complexities of emotion. Almost all of them experience their own ursine worries and long for some understanding of the mysteries of their emotion lives.

The textbook offers many theories. Do we become frightened because we run? That clearly is counterintuitive. Or do we run because the autonomic nervous system activates our fight-or-flight response? That makes sense, but it does not begin to explain the richness of our emotion experience. Perhaps we feel frightened because we cognitively label our physiological arousal as "fear," logical enough with a bear at our heels but not so clear in other situations. Or does the feeling of terror come from an even more surprising source--the muscles in our face? In the facial feedback theory, as a response to the ideational recognition of danger, the face contorts into a universally recognized expression of fear, which informs us that we are afraid. This is provocative, since the face does mirror feelings for at least a few fundamental emotions, yet the face hardly seems logical as the origin of the many subtle feelings that daily bombard our consciousness. And why should it? Why would evolution have created an emotion system that seems inside-out? It seems more logical that facial muscles . . .

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