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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Certain Issues - Emotions

Culture and emotion

There are two Views of Culture and Emotion:

Universality – Emotions are part of human nature and in all cultures universally the same set of basic emotions. Based on his cross-cultural research, Ekman (1999) has found six emotions which are universally recognized and applicable. They are:

1. Anger
2. Fear
3. Sadness
4. Happiness
5. Disgust
6. Surprise.

Physical responses

Attached to the idea of primary emotions as innate is the notion that each emotion causes a detectable physical response in the body. These responses are often perceived as sensation in the body; for example:

1. Fear is felt as a heightened heartbeat, increased “flinch” response, and increased muscle tension.

2. Anger, based on sensation, seems indistinguishable from fear.

3. Happiness is often felt as an expansive or swelling feeling in the chest and the sensation of lightness or buoyancy, as if standing underwater.

4. Sadness is often experienced as a feeling of tightness in the throat and eyes, and relaxation in the arms and legs.

5. Shame can be felt as heat in the upper chest and face.

6. Desire can be accompanied by a dry throat, heavy breathing, and increased heart rate.

In psychotherapy, practitioners of Re-evaluation Counselling propose that distressing emotions are relieved by emotional “discharge”. Hence crying, laughing, sweating, shaking, and trembling. These actions commonly associated emotions, are thought to not be the original sensation, but instead nearly automatic responses that dispel the discomfort of disturbing feelings.

Cultural specificity – Human beings are like a tabula rasa (clean tablet) on which society writes its script. In other words, culture and traditions, normative patterns and value-orientations are responsible for not only our personality development, but also appropriate social and emotional development. This makes us functional entities in society. Each culture has a unique set of emotions and emotional responses; the emotions shown in a particular culture reflects the norms, values, practices, and language of that culture.

Alexithymia – emotional disorder

Some people have difficulty in expressing their emotions and understanding the emotions of others. Psychologists call this alexithymia. People who suffer from alexithymia rarely cry and are often seen by others as bland and cold. Their own feelings make them uncomfortable, and they are not able to discriminate among their different emotions. People, suffering from alexithymia, may be effective performers in jobs where little or no emotional labor. Alexithymic symptoms may be seen in people who experience:

1. Post-traumatic stress disorder
2. Certain brain injuries
3. Eating disorders (i.e., bulimia, anorexia, or binge-eating disorder)
4. Substance use dependence
5. Depression
6. Other mental health conditions

Relationship of gender with emotion

A number of research findings supports the view that women are more emotional than men (e.g., Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson, & Rosenkrantz, 1972; Widiger & Settle, 1987). Women are assumed to experience more frequent and intense emotions, whereas men are assumed to be emotionally inexpressive and to have less intense emotional experiences. However, researchers have argued that the stereotype of men as unemotional is more accurate for adult targets than for child targets because males learn to control their emotions as they get older (Fabes and Martin, 1991). Likewise, women and men may experience happiness in a similar way, but women have been taught that they can strongly express the emotion of happiness, whereas men have been taught to control it. The impact of socialization practices accumulate over time, and, thus, these stereotypes are likely to apply more strongly to adult populations (Geer and Shields, 1996).

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