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The famous psychologist Sigmund Freud created the method of psychoanalysis, his views on dreams, sexuality, childhood etc. In Vienna he saw his colleague Josef Breuer treat a patient called Anna O with a talking cure. The more she talked and pulled up traumatic memories, the more her symptoms were reduced. A breakthrough – Freud encourage his patients to talk freely and so the entire branch of psychoanalysis was invented.
Freud’s discovery: our personality is shaped by unconscious motives (subconsciousness). But that subconsciousness can be discovered by talking and self-discovery.
Thinking must occur first before experiencing emotion (pioneer: Richard Lazarus). Situations leads to thought which leads to physiological response.
Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer formulated their Two-Factor theory in 1960s. They postulate that cognition can define emotion. You must be physically aroused and cognitively label that arousal.
Spillover effect experiment:
college guys + injection of hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Some of subjects were told to expect symptoms of feeling all revved up, others were told nothing would happen. Then waiting with an actor that acted irritated or super happy. Subjects were influenced by the actor. The subjects decided cognitively what they were feeling. Those told to feel something reported very little emotion as they blamed their physiological reaction on the drug. The cause of physiological arousal has to be identified to label the response as a particular emotion. The arousal spurs emotion, but cognition gives it a name.
Aristotle believed that emotions were an essential component of virtue. In the Aristotelian view all emotions (called passions) corresponded to appetites or capacities. Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Book 2. Chapter 6.
Historically, there’s been a number of theories that contributed to our understanding of emotions. In 1884 the American psychologist William James argued that feelings and emotions were only the result of phy-sio-logical phenomena. James proposed that the perception of an event could trigger a bodily response, and this bodily reaction is what constitutes an emotion.
The Danish psychologist Carl Lange made a similar proposition and nowadays the concept that feelings and emotions are our awareness of bodily reactions to external stimuli is called the James-Lange theory.
According to this theory we experience emotions because our bodies react physiologically to outer stimuli, i.e. we are trembling not because we are afraid. We are afraid because we are trembling.
Cherry, Kendra. “What Is the James-Lange Theory of Emotion?”. Retrieved 30 April 2012. https://www.verywell.com/what-is-the-james-lange-theory-of-emotion-2795305
“Theories of Emotion”. Psychology.about.com. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013. https://www.verywell.com/theories-of-emotion-2795717
Dalgleish, Tim. “The emotional brain”. http://bit.ly/2vXyJHo
Under scrutiny the James-Lange theory turns out to be incomplete, because they are many bodily responses that can cause totally different emotions. Sweating hands and a pounding heart can be a sign of fear or romantic excitement. That’s why Walter Bradford Cannon and Philip Bard came out with the Cannon-Bard theory which states that bodily reactions and subjective experience of emotion somehow occur simultaneously but separately.
Today there’s a consent among experts that cognition (everything pertaining to mentality such as perception, memory, thinking etc.) plays a big part in emotions and that there are various dynamics between mentality and bodily response that make up our different emotions and feelings.
The physician and professor Oliver Sacks can’t recognise his own face in the mirror. Sacks has a form of prosopagnosia, a neurological disorder that impairs a person’s ability to perceive or recognise faces, also known as face blindness. This is another peculiarly excellent example of how a brain function is localised and how sensation and perception are separate faculties.Sacks can recognise his coffee cup on the shelf, but he can’t pick out his oldest friend from a crowd, because the specific sliver of his brain responsible for facial recognition is malfunctioning. There’s nothing wrong with his vision. The sense is intact. The problem is with his perception, at least when it comes to recognising faces. Prosopagnosia is a good example of how sensing and perceiving are connected, but different.
In 1848, Phineas Gage was working on the railroad, tamping gunpowder into a blasting hole with an iron rod, but the gunpowder ignited. The resulting explosion caused the rod to shoot like a bullet up through his left cheek and out of the top of his head. There’s brain in between those two places.
Amazingly, Phineas stood up after the accident, and walked over to a cart, described what had happened, and was driven back to his house, all while he was conscious. After a few months of convalescing, he was pretty much healed up and moving around like he used to. But Phineas was no longer like himself. Whereas the old Phineas was mild-mannered and soft-spoken, the post-spike-to-the-brain Phineas was surly and mean-spirited and vulgar.
The case of Phineas Gage is an example of how brain functions are localised and how physiological factors are connected with physical and biological ones.
Optical illusions prove that perceptions can be misleading and that form perception is a difficult task. A number of factors influence our perception: expectations, context, culture, emotions and motivations.There are many famous examples of the brain trying to make sense out of the raw data provided from the senses. Some of those are the famous vases, faces or the duck/bunny figure illusions.
Duck or rabbit?
Such things let us recognise that we simplify and organise information by distinguishing between figures and grounds (faces or vases illusion). The relations flip back and forth in our minds, though the figures themselves are always there.
The same distinction between figure-ground applies to all our senses, not just the visual sense. Our mind groups things together by proximity, continuity and closure.
The mind groups shapes together by closure.
Your sensory organs pull in the world’s raw data, which is disassembled into little bits of information, and then reassembled in your brain to form your own model of the world.
How our attention tunes out most of the stimuli we receive from our senses can be best shown in the famous example of the Moonwalking Bear. Check it out to experience it for yourself.
Our narrow attention spans can also be exposed through magic tricks. Magicians use our perceptual incapability to notice small changes in our environment, thus creating certain effects which we, based on our experience, would consider impossible.
Thinking derives from mental learning. Learning is the process of acquiring information. Primitive thinking starts as automatic processes of associations and they occur already among highly developed animals. Mentality in the manifestation of the brain learns by creating more connections between its nerve cells. There are different ways of learning, but the most primitive one is associative learning.
The automatic ways of learning are the most primitive ones and they already occur among animals. They are about conditioning processes and the most famous researcher into this was the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. He focused on the observable behaviours instead of trying to interpret the unobservable internal mental processes.
As a medicine man he studied dogs’ stomachs and discovered that dogs salivate at a mere indication of a dinner. He conducted famous experiments to explore how dogs can associate originally neutral stimuli with the delivery of food and so learn to react to the stimuli accordingly.
Neutral stimuli are events which normally don’t cause any particular reaction in dogs. However, if you frequently pair the presence of meat powder with neutral stimuli such as a certain sound, a shining light etc., the dogs start drooling when the stimulus occurs, although no food has been presented yet.
The conclusion is that animals exhibit associative learning. They can connect neutral events with certain events, a method of learning which turns a neutral stimulus into a conditioned one, because it evokes a reaction which normally would be caused by another event. This process of associative connecting is the most elemental form of how mentality learns.
Denton DA, McKinley MJ, Farrell M, Egan GF (June 2009). “The role of primordial emotions in the evolutionary origin of consciousness”. Conscious Cogn. 18 (2): 500–14. PMID 18701321.
The idea that emotions developed naturally as a consequence of evolution came, unsurprisingly, from Charles Darwin himself. In his 1872 book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” Charles Darwin argued that emotions evolved via natural selection and serve a function that aids animal and human survival.
Modern views consider basic and social emotions as factors that developed to adapt human behaviour to natural and social environments. Emotion is an essential part in human decision-making and it competes with our urges, on one hand, and with our higher rational faculties of abstract reasoning, on the other hand.
Urges and basic emotions are the faculties that we human beings share with animals. At our primitive stages we strive after pleasant experiences and avoid unpleasant ones, because that’s how our body responds to outer stimuli. Bodily satisfaction stimulates us on the most basic level. That explains why sexual pleasures, alcohol and adrenalin are commonly preferred choices of many people.
Charles Darwin (9 April 1998). The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Oxford University Press. pp. 401–. ISBN 978-0-19-977197-4.
Anon (January 1873). “Darwin’s “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals””. Quarterly Journal of Science: 113–118. http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S220.htm
The neurobiological explanation for human emotion is the pleasant and unpleasant mental states organised in the limbic system of the mammalian brain.
Emotions are enhancements of animal arousal patterns that happen via neurochemicals such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin which prime or suppress the brain’s activity levels. Those inner processes manifest themselves as body movements, gestures and postures.
Reptiles react to their environment by using pre-set body movements and programmed postures. With mammals, the olfactory sense gained more importance which is proposed to have developed into mammalian emotion and mammalian memory.
The olfactory lobes are proportionally larger than in the reptiles and the odor channels might have developed gradually to what would later become the limbic system, which is the seat of emotions.
Source: Givens, David B. (1998). “Emotion”. Center for Nonverbal Studies. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140523192511/http://center-for-nonverbal-studies.org/emotion.htm
“[E]motion is any mental experience with high intensity and high hedonic content (pleasure/displeasure).”
Cabanac, Michel (2002). “What is emotion?” Behavioural Processes 60(2): 69-83.
“Our emotional feelings reflect our ability to subjectively experience certain states of the nervous system. Although conscious feeling states are universally accepted as major distinguishing characteristics of human emotions, in animal research the issue of whether other organisms feel emotions is little more than a conceptual embarrassment”.
Panksepp, Jaak (2005). Affective neuroscience : the foundations of human and animal emotions ([Reprint] ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-19-509673-8.