The End of Emotions

Have you ever wondered what emotions are and where they actually come from? I have. In fact, the very reason I researched this article was because I wasn’t sure myself of how I feel, what I feel and how I am supposed to define my changing states.

 It was a week or so ago where I sat on my couch baffled at my state of nonchalance. I was unbothered – not flat, just present, still and curious. What do I feel? What should I feel? , and where to find the answers?.

Where are my emotions I wondered?. What are emotions and how do we know which ones to pay attention to?
I searched high and low for concrete answers to my plaguing questions, and still, it seems a little unclear as to what goes where.

Theory of Emotions

Theorists suggest that emotions – the ones that are said to be universal are a part of the survival package we get handed from birth. Experts say we have five to seven universal emotions, shared by man, woman, child and beast and that everyone understands these to be the same.

These fundamental emotions according to Dr Paul Ekman are; Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger, Contempt and Surprise. Dr Paul Ekman pioneered the field of micro- expressions and mapped the 43 facial muscles used in emotional expression. Dr Ekman has influenced politics, governments and  popular culture through his research. 

Confident in his work the Dalai Lama commissioned Dr Paul Ekman and his daughter Dr Eve Ekman in a brand new interactive virtual platform called ‘The Atlas of Emotions’, where you can explore the complex dimension of feelings and their intensity.

Paul Ekman is a well-known psychologist and co-discoverer of micro expressions. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2009. He has worked with many government agencies, domestic and abroad. Dr. Ekman has compiled over 50 years of his research to create comprehensive training tools to read the hidden emotions of those around you.. (

And Then, There Was Lisa

Experts say emotions are energy in motion – that emotions cause us to  make actions and that each emotion has its unique physiological thumbprint. Research says that there are 35,000 different emotions and each is unique. If we embody emotions and there are so so many, how would we cope with so many physiological changes?. This bothered me – imagine if there are 35,000 different available emotions, how many variable chemical cocktails, muscle movements and behaviours would we make all day?.

It also bothered me, that I could not find a reliable source to where all these emotions arise from, how we make them or even make sense of them. The information I had so far accessed seemed to be very wishy-washy, and hard to make sense with. Still, the answer remained, what is an emotion? where do they come from?, and are the ones I have real or just made up?. 

And then I came across Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett and bit by bit the elusive construct of metaphor and allegory started to make sense. Dr Barrett in her research literally annihilates claims made by contemporaries in the field of emotional sciences and psychology, by stating that most of the published works rely on unsubstantiated evidence and bogus claims. 

Lisa Feldman Barrett is a university distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where she focuses on affective science. She is a director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory. Along with James Russell, she is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Emotion Review. Wikipedia

She has written a book called –  How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of The Brain.

In The End

In my quest to uncover the reality of emotions I discovered a lot of different theories, emotional charts and diagrams, character stereotypes and contradictions.

In the end, understanding your emotions is a skill, emotions are difficult to define, how we feel is unique to us and sharing emotions at the right time, is magic.

This article is as a general guide to better health and wellbeing.
It is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor health, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention.

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