Nina Schautová

Title: The science of emotion

Aim

I will put forward cumulative findings that suggest emotions are constructed and discuss the repercussions for psychotherapy.

Methods

Two areas of research suggest emotions are constructions and not inborn, universal functions of certain brain parts. Firstly, research was unable to confirm a common core for universal emotions. Any two instances of an emotion, can have virtually no overlap in how they express or how we experience it (e.g. quiet vicious anger versus an angry outburst).
Secondly, neuroscience failed to localize neural correlates responsible for experiencing specific emotions. According to leading researchers, emotions are constructs the brain creates to navigate the world in order to preserve a balanced body-mind budget.

Results

This has consequences for psychotherapy. For one, it supports phenomenological view. Emotional experiences are subjective body sensations, cognitions and behaviors, which can be integrated with various narratives. Moreover, emotional constructs are changeable (versus manageable) and can be re-constructed with corrective experience. They are purposeful (i.e. creative adaptations). And, physical balance has major impact on our constructions and is key for any therapeutic re-construction.

Discussion

With the research on emotions challenging the mainstream beliefs about emotions, we shall discuss the implications as well as the limitations for psychotherapy.

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