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The Psychology of Emotions

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Usually theories of emotions have been divided into the cognitive theories, affective theories and somatic theories and neurological theories of emotions are usually somatic and completely based on bodily reactions. Contemporary psychotherapy emphasizes on cognitive theories of emotion and highlights the central role of evaluation and judgments. Affective theories with an emphasis on feeling have not been developed extensively as the emphasis on bodily reactions and cognitive components has always been of greater importance in psychology. It is with the advent of consciousness studies, that the concept of feeling came back in the picture.

The broader picture on the psychology of emotions would include the real purpose of emotions. Emotions could have several functions.

1. Emotions release our excess internal energy Just as creativity helps in releasing our excess energy in a positive way, love or anger helps releasing physical energy and could thus be good for health

2.Emotions help us to fulfil our needs through directed physical reactions the emotion of curiosity for example fulfils our need for knowledge

3. Emotions add the codes and conscious and subconscious elements to our social interaction, communication and general life process. Emotions enrich our lives whether they are consciously expressed or unconsciously perceived.

The final part of the discussion is the expression of emotion which like communication could be covert and unconscious or overt and conscious or deliberate. Emotional expressions vary according to individuals and some are more expressive and dramatic than others. Usually highly creative individuals are also more emotionally expressive as creativity is a form of emotional expression and highly creative people simply express themselves through their creative work. Individuals given to more dramatic or extravagant emotions are well suited for the arts, drama and other forms of creative self expression. Such individuals should be encouraged to channel their energies towards creative output rather than using their dramatic emotional expressiveness in everyday situations which could be stressful for the less emotionally expressive people they interact with. So if you are given to extravagant emotional expression of anger or jealousy, this could be channelled towards competitiveness and active involvement in sports. Extreme need to express love or desire could be channelled towards the fine arts such as poetry or painting. Emotional expressions are not emotions per se but are like keys to your closet and without the expression (either covert or overt) there could be no identification of the emotions.

Finally emotions are complex and understanding emotions, emotional components and emotional expressions would require further study and it would be necessary to identify all possible emotions and associated feeling and bodily reactions as also accompanying types of emotional expressions. Maybe it would be appropriate to treat psychologically disturbed patients with a form of affective psychotherapy.

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Saberi Roy is a writer/poet/analyst/political commentator/psychologist and writes on science, arts, psychology, religions, politics and philosophy. She has Masters degrees in Philosophy (MA), in Psychology (MSc) and in Consciousness Studies with QM (more...)
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