Generally speaking, emotions are difficult for researchers to grasp because they are so complex and multi-layered. To come up with a clear definition does not appear easy, but briefly explained, emotions are comparatively short-lived reactions to an external or mental event. Feelings and moods tend to be longer-lasting, less pronounced states, often without a recognizable trigger.

“The emotion or the affect is to be distinguished from experiencing a feeling. The notion of feeling is the broader term that encompasses the widest variety of psychological experiences, such as jealousy, pride, insecurity, excitement, and melancholy. In contrast, the description of a „big feeling“ as an emotion has prevailed in linguistic usage and thus evokes a clearly perceptible physical change in muscles, heartbeat, breathing, etc., which can be detected measurably by neurophysiological parameters.» (Quote, source: Wikipedia 03/23)

The feelings that we consciously experience as fear, joy, anger, and sadness are metaphorically speaking merely like the tip of an iceberg. When it comes to emotional processes, a lot remains hidden from us. Emotions do not only affect our subjective experience, but also include physical reactions to certain triggers that physically prepare a person to react in a certain way or to get into action. For example, at the sight of a dangerous animal, heart rate and blood pressure may rise, so that the blood and energy supply to the muscles increases and thus the concentration for the reaction to fight or flee is guaranteed.

An emotion is something very complex. They focus our senses, our self-assessment, and also our cognitive processes. This is reflected in various bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, overactive intestines, blushing of the skin, etc., which is all controlled by the vegetative nervous system and our hormones. These represent the physical components of an emotion.

An emotion shows itself in facial expressions, gestures, sound and pitch or depth of the voice, in behavioral patterns, and it thereby becomes externally visible, expressive. The word emotion goes back to the Latin words „ex“ and „movere“, which means something akin to „movement outwards“.

That is why it is important, above all for all people working in therapeutic professions, but of course also for all people who are genuinely interested in the people closest to them, to pay attention to such expressive signs.

In the next article we will delve deeper into the topic and take a closer look at the “basic emotions”. You can also sign up for our newsletter or click on „Subscribe“ at the bottom right to be notified right away when a new article is available.

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