Journey Through the Psychology of Emotions

A thought comes when it will, not when I will.” – Nietzsche, quoted in Solomon (2003).

Nietzsche’s quote raises an important question about both thoughts and, implicitly, about emotions. Many people would say their emotions only come when they will and not when they want. So how do thoughts and emotions interact in everyday life and in therapeutic processes like cognitive behavioural therapy? Do we really have any control over our emotions or are they things that just happen to us? This is a series of posts examining these and related ideas.

1. Emotional Truth: The Search Starts Here
“A philosophical view allows us to get a handle on the big picture, to have a general view about what emotions are for and where they come from, before we plunge into the details.”

2. Rediscovering The Emotional Unconscious
“Solomon argues emotions can be thought of as strategies, not just simply as processes out of our conscious control. The second crucial idea, which LeDoux argues, is that emotions don’t seem to have benefited from the cognitive revolution in the same way that cognitions have.”

3. Doing Without Feeling
“…despite some good evidence, Berridge & Winkielman (2003) make the point that the existence of unconscious emotions is still controversial.”

4. Separating Emotion From Cognition
“…while it may not be possible untangle cognitions from affect, there is considerable utility in examining the way in which it is ‘embodied’. And here lies an important role for the neuroimaging of humans and animal brain research.”

5. Blurred Definitions of Affect and Emotion
“Blurry and confusing definitions are the stock-in-trade of psychologists, just as they are of many other scientists. Perhaps you have noticed that I have been guilty of using the words ‘affect’ and ‘emotion’ rather loosely. I’m not the only one.”

6. Emotion, Learning, Attention and Perception
“If you were forced at gunpoint to choose the part of the brain that plays the most important role in emotion, you might well plump for the amygdala.”

7. Neural Correlates of Emotional Judgements
“…Solomon argues that emotions are judgements and strategies rather than experiences that well up unbidden from the deep. This post asks whether it is possible to find any empirical evidence for this attractive idea.”

8. Emotional Blogging
“One of the problems with blogging is that content gets old really fast. This can mean that great old posts can get lost under the sheer weight of new ones. To rectify this, and as I’m currently writing about emotion here, I’ve searched some of the other blogs I read to see what they’ve had to say about it.”

9. Appraisal Processes in Emotion
“…how come the same event provokes different emotional reactions in different people? Or, in what sense is emotion irrational? How are our emotions (largely) appropriate to the situations in which we find ourselves?”

10. A Process Model of Appraisal
“Emotional changes that appear to have no apparent (conscious) cause, or that occur in the blink of an eye, are familiar to all of us. If so, how can appraisal theories hope to explain these phenomenon?”

11. What is empathy?
“Like many terms in psychology, it can seem intuitively obvious what ‘empathy’ means, but on closer inspection the definition is not so clear.”

12. Emotion Processing Deficits in Alexithymia
“Alexithymia is a subclinical condition characterised by an inability to express or identify felt emotions (Berthoz et al.. 2002). It is thought to affect 10% of the population (Linden, Wen & Paulhaus, 1994).”

13. Emotion Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorders
“…ordinary social interactions contain considerable emotional components. This post looks at studies which have examined how those with ASDs may have deficits in the automatic processing of emotions.”

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 2 November 2006

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