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Emotional Energy
Stressful Emotional Patterns




feelings = physical ... emotions = named feelings
i.e. feelings -> emotions (e.g. bus example of "feeling" of unease becoming "fear" of getting mugged)
emotions = result of our thoughts
result of a fearful experience is recorded by the limbic brain (vis. the amygdala) ... future similar situations will cause the amygdala to generate a non-cognitive response
children are discouraged from showing negative emotions ... these change to "self-talk" or are sublimated out of conscious knowledge
developmental stages:
first year - physical brain only
second year - emotional brain adds "like" and "dislike" information ... leads to anticipation
later childhood - thinking brain ... child can create a problem just by thinking about it ("what if" scenario)
addition of the child's interpretation of the scenario (e.g. my parents could leave and if they did leave, it means they don't love me)
more basic level interpretation: I'm unlovable or I'm bad.
if the experience is traumatic enough, it is possible that these thoughts can be carried into adulthood
even blocked in the case of abuse (i.e. the thinking brain)
emotional brain still continues to log experiences and to form responses ... only problem is that there is no logical reason for the responses
result of being able to use our thinking brain to re-live stressful situations:
in a bad way:
creation of an anxiety attack
catastrophize a neutral situation
scare oneself to death?
in a good way:
pleasure, joy, etc.
Viscott, 1992 - cyclical nature of pleasure and pain:
present pain = a hurt
past pain = anger
unexpressed anger -> redirected at self (guilt) -> depression
future (possible) pain = anxiety



Emotional Energy

Chopra, 1993:
intelligence is the water in which all people exist
structure, time, space = concepts
thinking -> creation of a body ... therefore any thought is immediately known by the body (i.e. the body is after all, only a thought)
happy thoughts (or sad) are hormonally felt by all cells immediately
emotional energy is given many names:
e.g. Morse, 1995 - most people have had these emotional experiences:
anger disgust
anxiety hope
sadness pride
guilt gratitude
shame happiness
envy love
jealousy compassion
some emotions are expressed more actively than others (e.g. anger, happiness, jealousy vs. fear, guilt, contentment)
Pert, 1995: use the effect of a particular emotional response pattern in order to define whether it is healthy (i.e. strengthens or does not depresses immune system) or unhealthy (i.e. depresses immune system)
possible to use cognitive control to "redefine" an unhealthy emotion with a healthy one
emotional tension which is released, is pleasurable:
e.g. shout/laugh when you're happy
e.g. cry when you're sad
sometimes negative emotions are not released (e.g. Men don't cry) ... tension tends to be increased with negative self-talk


Stressful Emotional Patterns

children are rewarded for:
laughing (but not too loud)
and not:
showing anger
showing fear
showing emotional hurt
therefore adults use self-talk in place of these emotions
Bradshaw, 1992: children in dysfunctional families are not allowed to express feelings openly
in our own lives we can either use a "fight" response (e.g. anger) or a "flight" response (e.g. fear) when faced with a stressing situation
both fear and anger are bad for our health
how did you fare on the questionnaire on pp. 56-57?



beliefs, attitudes and opinions underlie our emotional responses to almost everything which happens to us
e.g. Erikson: people have an unconscious map ... "inner child" in all of us influences how we naturally respond to situations
Kurtz, 1990: early feelings, beliefs and memories
Chopra, 1993: premature cognitive commitment
a neuropsychological pattern of how to respond to a particular situation
e.g. newly hatched fish staying on their side of the tank after a clear divider is removed
e.g. "horizontal" environment kittens unable to see vertical obstacles ... experience of "verticality" was not part of their cognitive map
Maslow, 1968
motivational hierarchy:
physiological needs - early infancy
safety needs - early infancy
love and belongingness needs - childhood onwards
esteem needs - childhood onwards
self-actualization needs
physiological and safety needs become "hardwired" in infants
how to change a negative emotional reaction:
  1. recognize the emotion ... give it the respect of being "real" - not imaginary
  2. interrupt the emotion-habit loop
  3. identify and understand the negative thoughts underlying the negative emotion
  4. replace negative thought with positive thoughts
  5. tackle the situation from the new belief situation



conscious thought operates as a control system
e.g. focus on some goal leads to action for accomplishment of the goal
conscious mind chooses behaviors in order to handle overload:
e.g. withdrawing from a situation which is too difficult
e.g. being depressed or miserable
Glasser, 1994 - why choose misery or depression (or illness or alcohol or drug abuse)?
helps to control anger
gets other people to help without overtly asking them for help
avoids doing something which is more difficult
conflict between the "real" and the "ideal:"
ideal = achievement, success, wealth, winning, thinness, attractiveness, etc.
usually someone else's goal
real = something less (because there are health, happiness and personal integrity costs of reaching an ideal
expressly related to our own situation
a stress response is almost guaranteed when we live someone else's life
when faced with overload, what strategies could we take?
small steps - incremental changes in behaviors ... usually manageable
large steps - changes which lead to challenges of our basic belief structures:
therefore recruitment (negative maladaptive behaviors):
ego defense
Patent, 1995: people have as many as 50,000 different thoughts/day
most are the same as yesterday
most are beliefs



beliefs are thoughts which endure over time
learned early in life from others
help to what we do and how we evaluate what we do
beliefs are not questioned ... they provide a sense of security
information is accepted if it does not conflict with our beliefs ... if it conflicts, it is rejected or reinterpreted
e.g. self image and daily experiences
if we have a strong self image, daily experiences will reinforce this image
if we have a weak self image, daily experiences will reinforce this image
how do emotions influence stress, etc.?
stressor - physical, social, psychological or self-generated (anticipation and imagination)
stress reaction
thoughts about that emotion (i.e. beliefs)
small steps - competent coping
large steps - maladaptive coping
loss of control:
change the input - predict it, ignore it
change the output - e.g. respond the same way all of the time ... probably wrong strategy
types of stressors:
relations between people and other people
same events interpreted differently by different individuals
e.g. adaptation, overload, frustration, deprivation, trauma
interpreted more or less the same by different people
e.g. occupation, noise, nutrition, drugs, environment
unique to an individual on the basis of his/her beliefs, attitudes and personal behaviors
e.g. self-perception, anxious reactivity, time urgency, control, anger/hostility
filters for dissipating the stress reaction:
experience - novelty makes things more intense, previous experiences provide comfort
emotional reactivity - the lower the arousal level the less the effect of the stress
logical thought - thought reduces the unknown
personal beliefs - security and a sense of purpose help to diminish the stress reaction

Examination Review Questions

Please refer to the Examination Review Questions page for all chapters of Girdano.


Last revised: February 17, 2007 1:26 PM .
Copyright © 1996 onwards: Richard R. Danielson. All rights reserved

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