WHAT IS AN EMOTION?


"There are numerous theories about the origin and modulation of emotions. Until not so long ago, one unifying concept to all of these theories was that emotions are generated in subcortical brain centers in response to external stimuli. As early as the 1880’s, William James and Carl Lange posited their theory of emotion, in which they outlined how external stimuli elicit a set of physical responses which are processed by higher cognitive functions to yield an emotion. Subsequent works by neuropsychologists, such as James Papez, further expanded on this theory, implicating the "limbic system"—the hypothalamus, anterior thalamic nucleus, hippocampus, and the cingulate gyrus—in creating affect, which was then processed by the cortical brain to produce behaviors or emotional symptoms. Contemporary work by Antonio Damasio incorporates the notion that sensory responses are at the core of emotions. In his “Somatic Marker Hypothesis”, Dr. Damasio describes somatic markers as the body’s sensory responses to external stimuli or circumstances. It is these somatic markers, he explains, that comprise an emotion. More recent work by Lisa Feldman Barrett illustrates that subcortical regions are not the sole origin of emotion they were once thought to be, but rather that emotions are constructed by the whole brain. Dr. Barrett's perspective, which she lays out in How Emotions Are Made, is that emotions emerge from multiple ingredients, including information from the brain, body, external circumstances and past experiences, and are not directly caused by any one thing.

The Emotional Health Institute's focus, viscero-somatic quieting, functions by connecting subcortically generated markers to higher cognitive functions in order to neutralize or integrate disruptive emotional responses and associated behavioral patterns."


Sourced from The Emotional Health Institute website



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