Emotions & 8 Key States

By Published On: February 14, 2024

Emotions & 8 Key States

Emotions & 8 Key States

Emotions & 8 Key States

By Published On: February 14, 2024

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Image Credit: Unsplash
Emotion
Reed Everingham

Provides counselling and psychotherapy services for individuals, couples, and groups. He is also a clinical supervisor and academic at Western Sydney and Deakin Universities. His approach is trauma-informed, gender-affirmative, and person-centred.

Disclaimer

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR AND IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT. PLEASE REACH OUT TO A REGISTERED THERAPIST IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DISTRESS AND REQUIRE ASSISTANCE © REED EVERINGHAM CONSULTING.

In my work and personal life, I come across a variety of people, and I am fascinated by the richness and complexity of their experiences. People are unique and distinct in their ways. Therapy sessions often evoke emotions, and the way clients express and feel their emotions is quite diverse. This interests me because popular research, such as the studies conducted by Dael et al. in 2012 and Maroda in 2010, suggest that there are only a limited number of primary emotions:

Anger
Sadness
Fear
Joy
Disgust
Interest
Surprise
Shame

It is understood (Keltner et al., 2019; Ekman et al., 2011) that we are born with these emotions hard-wired into us – they are bodily. This means that we experience them somatically and viscerally. Body temperature rises or falls. Pupils widen or contract. We experience these states; we feel them. What’s fascinating is that, like mixing primary colours on the colour wheel, dozens, if not scores, of secondary emotions come from mixing these innate eight. These are learned responses, utterly individual and dependent on the lived experience of family, society, and culture.

An example of this could be experiencing fear when expressing anger due to past punishment or judgment and, alternatively, feeling disgust when feeling pleasure due to the belief that pleasure is sinful. This is where the emotional landscape becomes fraught and difficult to navigate because these ‘shades of eight’ are so unique to you. You’re the only person who knows the ‘combination’, and that combination may be repressed, ignored, or numbed.

When we have a secondary emotion, the key is to figure out the primary emotion to respond most helpfully. Often, the action caused by the emotion causes the distress or problem, not the emotion itself. Getting angry isn’t a problem – but losing your cool and shouting at your partner is. Sadness is impermanent, but drowning your sorrows often shifts or extends the distress.

Emotions are intrinsic, our birthright. Developing a better understanding of them increases our resilience and knowledge of self. Unpacking emotional states is part of the work in therapy, and befriending and facing up to our emotions is the way we grow and become more real to ourselves.

REFERENCES:

Dael, N., Mortillaro, M., & Scherer, K. R. (2012). Emotion expression in body action and posture. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 12(5), 1085-1101.

Ekman, Paul, & Cordaro, Daniel. (2011). What is Meant by Calling Emotions Basic. Emotion Review, 3(4), 364-370.

Keltner, D, Sauter, D, Tracy, J, & Cowen, A. (2019). Emotional Expression: Advances in Basic Emotion Theory. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 43(2), 133-160.

Maroda, K. (2010). Psychodynamic techniques : Working with emotion in the therapeutic relationship. New York: Guilford Press.

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Image Credit: Unsplash
Emotion
Reed Everingham

Provides counselling and psychotherapy services for individuals, couples, and groups. He is also a clinical supervisor and academic at Western Sydney and Deakin Universities. His approach is trauma-informed, gender-affirmative, and person-centred.

Disclaimer

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR AND IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT. PLEASE REACH OUT TO A REGISTERED THERAPIST IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DISTRESS AND REQUIRE ASSISTANCE © REED EVERINGHAM CONSULTING.

In my work and personal life, I come across a variety of people, and I am fascinated by the richness and complexity of their experiences. People are unique and distinct in their ways. Therapy sessions often evoke emotions, and the way clients express and feel their emotions is quite diverse. This interests me because popular research, such as the studies conducted by Dael et al. in 2012 and Maroda in 2010, suggest that there are only a limited number of primary emotions:

Anger
Sadness
Fear
Joy
Disgust
Interest
Surprise
Shame

It is understood (Keltner et al., 2019; Ekman et al., 2011) that we are born with these emotions hard-wired into us – they are bodily. This means that we experience them somatically and viscerally. Body temperature rises or falls. Pupils widen or contract. We experience these states; we feel them. What’s fascinating is that, like mixing primary colours on the colour wheel, dozens, if not scores, of secondary emotions come from mixing these innate eight. These are learned responses, utterly individual and dependent on the lived experience of family, society, and culture.

An example of this could be experiencing fear when expressing anger due to past punishment or judgment and, alternatively, feeling disgust when feeling pleasure due to the belief that pleasure is sinful. This is where the emotional landscape becomes fraught and difficult to navigate because these ‘shades of eight’ are so unique to you. You’re the only person who knows the ‘combination’, and that combination may be repressed, ignored, or numbed.

When we have a secondary emotion, the key is to figure out the primary emotion to respond most helpfully. Often, the action caused by the emotion causes the distress or problem, not the emotion itself. Getting angry isn’t a problem – but losing your cool and shouting at your partner is. Sadness is impermanent, but drowning your sorrows often shifts or extends the distress.

Emotions are intrinsic, our birthright. Developing a better understanding of them increases our resilience and knowledge of self. Unpacking emotional states is part of the work in therapy, and befriending and facing up to our emotions is the way we grow and become more real to ourselves.

REFERENCES:

Dael, N., Mortillaro, M., & Scherer, K. R. (2012). Emotion expression in body action and posture. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 12(5), 1085-1101.

Ekman, Paul, & Cordaro, Daniel. (2011). What is Meant by Calling Emotions Basic. Emotion Review, 3(4), 364-370.

Keltner, D, Sauter, D, Tracy, J, & Cowen, A. (2019). Emotional Expression: Advances in Basic Emotion Theory. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 43(2), 133-160.

Maroda, K. (2010). Psychodynamic techniques : Working with emotion in the therapeutic relationship. New York: Guilford Press.

In my work and personal life, I come across a variety of people, and I am fascinated by the richness and complexity of their experiences. People are unique and distinct in their ways. Therapy sessions often evoke emotions, and the way clients express and feel their emotions is quite diverse. This interests me because popular research, such as the studies conducted by Dael et al. in 2012 and Maroda in 2010, suggest that there are only a limited number of primary emotions:

Anger
Sadness
Fear
Joy
Disgust
Interest
Surprise
Shame

It is understood (Keltner et al., 2019; Ekman et al., 2011) that we are born with these emotions hard-wired into us – they are bodily. This means that we experience them somatically and viscerally. Body temperature rises or falls. Pupils widen or contract. We experience these states; we feel them. What’s fascinating is that, like mixing primary colours on the colour wheel, dozens, if not scores, of secondary emotions come from mixing these innate eight. These are learned responses, utterly individual and dependent on the lived experience of family, society, and culture.

An example of this could be experiencing fear when expressing anger due to past punishment or judgment and, alternatively, feeling disgust when feeling pleasure due to the belief that pleasure is sinful. This is where the emotional landscape becomes fraught and difficult to navigate because these ‘shades of eight’ are so unique to you. You’re the only person who knows the ‘combination’, and that combination may be repressed, ignored, or numbed.

When we have a secondary emotion, the key is to figure out the primary emotion to respond most helpfully. Often, the action caused by the emotion causes the distress or problem, not the emotion itself. Getting angry isn’t a problem – but losing your cool and shouting at your partner is. Sadness is impermanent, but drowning your sorrows often shifts or extends the distress.

Emotions are intrinsic, our birthright. Developing a better understanding of them increases our resilience and knowledge of self. Unpacking emotional states is part of the work in therapy, and befriending and facing up to our emotions is the way we grow and become more real to ourselves.

REFERENCES:

Dael, N., Mortillaro, M., & Scherer, K. R. (2012). Emotion expression in body action and posture. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 12(5), 1085-1101.

Ekman, Paul, & Cordaro, Daniel. (2011). What is Meant by Calling Emotions Basic. Emotion Review, 3(4), 364-370.

Keltner, D, Sauter, D, Tracy, J, & Cowen, A. (2019). Emotional Expression: Advances in Basic Emotion Theory. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 43(2), 133-160.

Maroda, K. (2010). Psychodynamic techniques : Working with emotion in the therapeutic relationship. New York: Guilford Press.

Image Credit: Unsplash
Emotion
Reed Everingham

Provides counselling and psychotherapy services for individuals, couples, and groups. He is also a clinical supervisor and academic at Western Sydney and Deakin Universities. His approach is trauma-informed, gender-affirmative, and person-centred.

Disclaimer

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR AND IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT. PLEASE REACH OUT TO A REGISTERED THERAPIST IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DISTRESS AND REQUIRE ASSISTANCE © REED EVERINGHAM CONSULTING.

Share This Article, Choose Your Platform!