American psychologist, recognized expert in the field of emotional intelligence Daniel Goleman claims that our emotions play a much larger role in achieving success in the family and at work than it is believed.
But what is "emotional intelligence"? Can it be measured? What is the difference between "normal" and "emotional" intelligence and why do the owners of the former often give way under the sun to the owners of the latter?
Do you want to find out the answers and learn how to cope with depression, anger, short temper, and become more successful? Read this book. It will be useful not only for students and teachers, but also for parents.
Anyone can be angry – it is easy, but it is not so easy to be angry with someone who deserved it, and to a certain extent, at the right time, with the right purpose and in the right way.
It was unbearably steaming already in the morning. In new York, it was one of those hot and humid August days when everyone is depressed by the feeling of discomfort. I was on my way back to the hotel. He boarded a bus on Madison Avenue. It was a shock to meet the eyes of a middle-aged black driver, who was beaming with joy. He greeted me with a friendly greeting.: "Great! What's up?» This was how he addressed everyone who came in. Everyone was startled, but because of the weather and bad mood, few people responded to the good-natured greeting.
Meanwhile, the bus, taxiing out of the traffic jams, slowly crawled through the center of the afternoon city in the traffic, full as always at this hour. And on the way to the residential area there was a slow, almost magical transformation. The driver amused us with a continuous monologue about everything in the world: something unimaginable was happening in that store during the sale, and this Museum opened a wonderful exhibition. Have you heard anything about the new movie yet? It was recently shown at the corner movie theater… Admiration for the rich opportunities that new York provides to residents infected passengers. As they neared their stop, everyone was relieved of their sullenness, and when the driver shouted after them: "Bye! All the best!", with a smile answered him in the same way.
The memory of the Madison Avenue bus ride has been with me for almost twenty years. At that time, I had just completed my PhD in psychology; but at that time, psychologists paid too little attention to the mechanism of such metamorphoses. Psychological science knew almost nothing about the origin of emotions. But even then, as I imagined the virus of goodwill spreading through the city from the former passengers of that bus, I realized that the driver turned out to be some kind of local peacemaker. Almost a wizard, you might say, for he had transformed the sullen irritability that roamed through the passengers ' souls, softened their hearts a little, and made them kinder themselves.
Here are some reports from the weekly newspaper for comparison.
- In one of the schools, a nine-year-old student raged, covered desks, computers and printers with paint, and wrecked a car in the school Parking lot. The reason is that his fellow third-graders called him a "sucker", and he set out to change their minds.
- An accidental collision in a crowd of teenagers loitering outside a Manhattan interest club led to a brawl. Eight teenagers were injured. The fight ended with one of the aggrieved opening fire with an automatic pistol. The report says that in recent years, such shooting as a reaction to perceived disrespect is becoming more and more commonplace across America.
- According to press reports of murder victims under the age of twelve, 57 percent of the murderers are parents, stepfathers or stepmothers. In almost half of the cases, adults say they were "just trying to discipline the child." Beating to death is provoked by "violations" of the following kind: the child interferes with watching TV, cries, dirties diapers, etc.
- A German youth, a member of a neo-Nazi group, was tried for the murder of five Turkish women and girls: while they were sleeping, he started a fire. At the trial, he said that he could not keep his job, started drinking and blamed foreigners for his cruel fate. In a barely audible voice he explained: "I do not cease to deeply regret what I did, I am infinitely ashamed."
Every day, the news stream abounds with similar messages. People are getting worse at getting along with each other, and this threatens everyone's security. Baser motives are attacking us, causing an unrestrained desire to destroy. This means that in our own life, in the lives of people around us, there is a large-scale out-of-control of emotions. They cause a wave of destruction, which, of course, is sometimes followed by remorse. So what? After all, everyone's life is under threat.
The last decade has passed under the drumbeat of reports showing how rapidly the number of ridiculous antics, manifestations of recklessness and irresponsibility in families, communities and collectives is growing. Here are stories about the outbursts of rage and despair of single children left by working parents in the care of a TV instead of a babysitter. Children who suffer from being abandoned, neglected, mistreated, or victimized by their parents ' promiscuity. Statistics show that mental illness is spreading more and more, and that there are more and more cases of depression around the world. There is a growing wave of aggression: teenagers with firearms in schools, shootings on highways, brutal murders of former colleagues committed by employees dissatisfied with the dismissal."Emotional abuse"," shooting cars on the road"," post – traumatic stress " - over the past decade, all these expressions have entered the everyday lexicon. Now at the end of the conversation, instead of an encouraging "All the best!» we say skeptically: "Come on!".
This book will help you find meaning in nonsense. As a psychologist and journalist for the New York Times - and yours truly has been doing so for the past ten years – I have clearly noticed progress in the scientific understanding of the irrational. What strikes me most is the juxtaposition of two clearly opposite trends. On the one hand, there is a growing problem in the emotional life of society, on the other – there are some effective means of improving the current situation.
Why this study was needed
So, in the last ten years, disappointing information has been coming from all sides. And then representatives of the scientific world seriously began to analyze emotions. Among the most impressive results are studies of the human brain in the process of functioning. They became possible thanks to the latest developments in the field of optical imaging technology of the brain. For the first time in human history, scientists have been able to see what has remained a secret for centuries. We begin to understand how, while we think and feel, build mental images and dream, this unimaginably complex system of a huge mass of cells works. The abundance of data in the field of neuroscience helps us better understand how the brain centers responsible for emotions make us angry or cry. Or how the most secret parts of the brain that encourage wars or awaken love direct energy to good or evil. Such research is unprecedented. They reveal the mechanisms of violent expression of emotions and their weakening, and also show ways to get out of a collective emotional crisis.
By the way, I had to wait until the results of my research were ready to write this book. The reason for such a long delay was mainly rooted in this: previously, researchers devoted surprisingly little space to studying the role of feelings in a person's mental life. In the void thus created, a flood of various books on the topic of "Help yourself", replete with useful tips, developed at best based on the results of clinical studies, but certainly in the absence of a serious scientific base. Now science finally has the right to talk knowledgeably about solving urgent and very complex problems of the psyche in its most irrational manifestations. This means that you can map human feelings with more or less accuracy.
It will refute the opinion of those who hold a narrow view of intelligence. They prove that the degree of mental development 1 is set to us genetically, and why it can not change under the influence of life experience. That our fate is largely determined by the mental abilities that we are naturally endowed with. The argument is strong, but it does not remove the burning question: can we change anything to make our children live better? What factors work, for example, when people with a high IQ fail? Or when, on the contrary, those with modest abilities are surprisingly successful?
Personally, I am determined to prove that the reason is most often what I call "emotional intelligence". Self – control, zeal and perseverance, as well as the ability to motivate their actions-all this, as we will see later, children can be taught. And thus give them the opportunity to make the best use of the mental potential that has fallen out in the genetic lottery.
In this context, our moral imperative is clearly visible. The times have come when the structure of society is spreading faster and faster. Selfishness, violence, and spiritual squalor seem to destroy social well-being. This is why it is important to talk about emotional intelligence: it makes feelings, character, and internal moral stimuli closely linked. It is becoming increasingly clear that fundamental ethical attitudes are derived from the underlying emotional capacities. Impulse, for example, is a means of expressing emotions; the source of all impulses is the feeling expressed in action. For those who are at the mercy of impulses, that is, for people with insufficient self-control, it is characteristic to deviate from the strict principles of morality (after all, the ability to control impulses is the basis of will and character). In addition, altruism stems from empathy – the ability to capture and decipher the emotions of others. If there is no understanding of the other person's need or despair, then there is nothing to worry about. And if any moral positions are required in our time, it is these two: restraint and compassion.
In this book, I act as a guide on a scientific expedition to the land of emotions. The journey will help you understand some of the most difficult moments of our lives and the world around us. The purpose of the trip is to learn what it means to "bring intelligence to the world of emotions" and how to do it. This understanding may itself be useful to a certain extent. After all, penetration into the realm of the senses leads to the same result as in quantum physics: the observer changes the picture that he sees.
Our journey begins in part 1 with new discoveries about the emotional architecture of the brain. They explain the most discouraging moments in our lives, when feeling overwhelms all rationality. Understanding how the brain structures that control rage or fear, passion, and joy interact makes a lot of sense. We will learn exactly how to establish emotional habits that undermine our best intentions, as well as what we can do to suppress the most destructive, self-harming emotional impulses. And most importantly, the neurological evidence suggests that there are "Windows of opportunity" for developing emotional habits in our children.
The next long stop on our journey will be in part 2. There we will talk about how the characteristics of the nervous system of each person during life develop into a fundamental intuition called emotional intelligence. It allows, for example, to restrain an emotional impulse, to guess the innermost feelings of another person and to establish relationships – in General, as Aristotle said, to acquire the rare ability to "be angry with someone who deserves, and to a certain extent, at the right time, with the right purpose and in the right way." (Readers who don't want to go into neurological details can skip to this section.)
A person is given abilities that help him live his life. Among them, the main place is occupied by emotions – if, of course, to expand the content of the concept of "being reasonable". Part 3 discusses some of the differences defined by "reasonableness". How does this ability help to preserve the relationships that are most important to us, and its absence leads to their destruction? How does the nature of the market, which is changing the shape of our working life, encourage a person with developed emotional intelligence to achieve success in the workplace? Why do "toxic" emotions endanger our physical health as much as a pack of cigarettes a day? Why does emotional balance protect our health and well-being?..
According to the laws of genetics, we inherit a certain set of emotional attitudes that determine our temperament. However, the emotional circuits of the brain's reticular formation are extremely easy to influence, which means that temperament is not at all predetermined. In part 4, we will discuss how the emotional experiences we gained as children at home and at school shape our emotional patterns, making us knowledgeable – or inept. This means that childhood and adolescence are a kind of "window of opportunity" necessary for securing essential emotional characteristics that will govern our lives.
Part 5 of the book will reveal the dangers that lie in wait for those who do not learn to rule the realm of emotions during the period of maturity. How is it that a lack of emotional intelligence expands the range of risks – from depression or violent tendencies to eating disorders and drug abuse? In addition, we will get acquainted with schools that use advanced techniques, where children are taught communication skills and the ability to control emotions – that is, what will always help them choose the right path in life.
It should be noted that the most disturbing data is the mass survey of parents and teachers. They indicate a worldwide trend towards increasing emotional distress in the current generation compared to the previous one. Children become more irritable and unruly, more nervous and prone to anxiety, more impulsive and aggressive, and they feel more alone and depressed.
As for the means to remedy the situation, I think they should be found among the methods that we choose to prepare young people for adulthood. Until now, we have left our children's emotional education to chance, with increasingly horrifying results each time. One solution to the problem would be a new understanding of the role of school in human education. What happens if the mind and heart merge in the classroom? It is no accident that our trip will end with a visit to a new type of school, where the goal is to give children a good training in the basics of emotional intelligence. I foresee a time when it will become common practice in the education system to develop the most important human abilities – self-knowledge, self-control, and empathy. When people are trained to listen, resolve conflicts, and maintain cooperation.
In Nicomachean ethics, a philosophical study of virtue, character, and good living, Aristotle set out to teach people how to manage their emotional lives with intelligence. Emotions, properly used, contain wisdom: they guide our thinking, define our values, and help us survive. But they can easily lead us astray, which is all too often the case. As it seemed to Aristotle, it is not a matter of emotionality, but of the relevance of emotions and their expression. The question is how to bring intelligence to emotions – and at the same time politeness to our streets and attention and care to the life of our society.
Part 1. The emotional brain
Chapter 1. Why do we need emotions
Here is my secret, it is very simple: one sees clearly only with the heart. You can't see the most important thing with your eyes. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The little Prince (translated by Nora Gal)
Let's remember the last moments of Gary and Mary Jane Chauncey, who loved their eleven-year-old daughter, Andrea, who was confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. The Chauncey couple were among the passengers on the Emtrack train that fell into the river in Louisiana when the barge hit the support of a railway bridge over an arm of the river in the Delta. When the water rushed through the Windows of the sinking train car, they thought only of their daughter and tried to do everything possible to save Andrea. Somehow they managed to push the girl through the window, towards the rescuers. However, they themselves, not having time to get out, remained in the car, which went under the water.
Parents who performed a heroic act to save their child's life. This incident is evidence of almost fantastic courage. The history of mankind has countless examples when parents make unthinkable sacrifices for the sake of their children. From the point of view of evolutionary biologists, parental self-sacrifice serves the purpose of "successful reproduction" or the transfer of someone's genes to future generations. However, from the point of view of a parent who takes a desperate step in critical moments of life, it is only about love.
The example of parental heroism helps to understand the purpose and power of emotions. Self-sacrifice plays a huge role in our lives, but this is the case with any strong emotion. The deepest feelings, passions, and aspirations are our necessary guides in the world, and the human race owes its existence in many ways to their effective presence. Their power is extremely great: only a huge love, which resulted in the desire to save the adored child, could make a person despise the instinct of self-preservation. From the point of view of common sense, the self-sacrifice of a father and mother is unreasonable; from the point of view of feelings, they could not do otherwise.
To view human nature without considering the power of emotion is to be woefully short-sighted. In the light of the new understanding and vision of the place of emotions in our lives, now proposed by science, the name Homo sapiens – a reasonable person, a thinking person – is misleading. We all know from experience that when it comes to making decisions and determining a course of action, feeling takes into account every detail as much, and often more, than thinking. We have gone too far in emphasizing the significance and importance of only the rational – that which is measured by the degree of mental development – in human life. For better or worse, intelligence can be useless if emotions take over.
When passions control the mind
It was a tragedy of mistakes. The parents of fourteen-year-old Matilda Crabtree returned from visiting in the morning. Their daughter decided to play a prank on her father and jumped out of the closet with a cry of "Poo-OO-OO!"
but Bobby Crabtree and his wife believed that Matilda was spending the night with friends. After entering the house and hearing a commotion, Crabtree grabbed a 9mm pistol and rushed to Matilda's bedroom to find out what was wrong. When his daughter came out of the closet, Crabtree shot her in the neck. Matilda Crabtree died twelve hours later.
The emotional legacy of evolution is fear, which mobilizes us to protect our loved ones from danger. It was he who defeated Bobby Crabtree to grab a gun and deal with the intruder, who, as he decided, illegally entered the house. Fear made Crabtree shoot before he fully realized who he was shooting at, and even before he recognized his own daughter's voice. According to evolutionary biologists, automatic reactions of this kind are firmly anchored in our nervous system: after all, during a long critical period of human prehistory, they determined the line between life and death. But more importantly, they contribute to the main task of evolution: to ensure that offspring can be produced that will continue to transmit these very genetic tendencies that, ironically, caused the tragedy in the Crabtree house.
Although emotions have always served us as wise advisers, the new realities offered by the current civilization have been formed with such speed that evolution, with its sedate pace, is clearly not keeping up with them. Indeed, the first laws and regulations of ethics, such as the code of laws of Hammurabi 2, the biblical ten commandments, and the edicts of the Emperor Ashoka 3, can be regarded as attempts to curb, soften, and civilize the expression of emotions. As Freud points out in Civilization and the dissatisfaction it caused, society was forced to impose rules in order to tame the waves of uncontrollable, overflowing emotions.
In spite of social restrictions, the passions continually overcome the reason. These features of human nature are determined by the nature of the mental sphere. If we talk about the biological structure of the main nervous circuit of emotions, then we are born with what has best proven itself in the work over the past 50 thousand generations of people. I emphasize: not the last 500 generations, and certainly not the last five. Slowly and carefully, the forces of evolution that shaped our emotions have been at work for millions of years. The past 10 thousand years, despite the apparently rapid rise of civilization and the explosive growth of the population from five million to five billion, have left a small imprint on our basic biological matrices.
For better or worse, our assessment of each unexpected meeting with someone and our reaction to such a meeting are not only the result of sound judgments and personal experience, but also an echo of the distant past. They form traits in us that sometimes lead to tragic consequences, as evidenced by the sad events at the Crabtree house. In short, we too often tackle the twentieth-century dilemma with an emotional repertoire adapted to the needs of the Pleistocene.4 This problem is solved in this book.
1. The book will also often talk about the coefficient of mental development (IQ, Intelligence Quotient, literally translated "intelligence quotient"). The IQ test reveals the ability to think (not erudition).
2. Hammurabi (XVIII century BC) – king of Babylon. His creative hand touched all aspects of life. This is evident from his famous laws. Of the 272 articles, 247 have been preserved: criminal law, legal proceedings, theft, robbery, trade, family, urban planning, shipbuilding, slavery, etc. – Here and further, except in specified cases, approx.
3. Ashoka – ancient Indian king (268-232 BC). the extant edicts of Ashoka, carved on rocks, columns, and caves, are the oldest accurately dated epigraphic monuments in India. They allow us to judge the borders of the state, governance, social relations, religion and culture. Ed.
4. Pleistocene – the last modern system of the Earth's geological history, covering the modern era; it lasts about 700,000-1,000,000 years. The most important event of this period was the appearance of man.
Motivations to do something
One day in early spring, I was driving along a highway through a mountain pass in Colorado. A sudden snowfall hid the car in front of them, a short distance away. I stared at the swirling snow in front of me, but I couldn't see anything in the blinding whiteness of the snow. As I put my foot on the brake pedal, I could feel anxiety filling my body and hear my heart pounding.
My anxiety turned to overwhelming fear; I pulled over to the side of the road to wait out the Blizzard. Half an hour later, the snow stopped falling, visibility restored, and I continued on, only to stop again after a few hundred yards further down the road. There, an ambulance crew was reviving a car passenger who had crashed into the back of the car in front. The collision caused a traffic jam on the highway. If I had continued driving in the blinding snowfall, I probably would have run into them.
The warning fear that gripped me that day may have saved my life. Like a rabbit frozen in horror at the sight of a passing Fox, or a simple mammal hiding from an attacking dinosaur, I found myself in the grip of an inner state. It made me pause, alert, and alert to the impending danger.
All emotions are essentially impulses to action, instantaneous programs of action that evolution has gradually instilled in us. Actually, the root of the word "emotion" is the Latin verb moveo, meaning "move, set in motion", with the prefix e– ("e-"), which gives an additional meaning to outward orientation: "move, remove". So, each of the emotions awakens the desire to act. The fact that emotions lead to actions is most easily seen by watching animals or children. Only in "civilized" adults do we often find a colossal deviation from the norm of the animal Kingdom: emotions – the main stimuli to action – often diverge from the action itself.
Each emotion from our emotional repertoire plays a unique role, revealed by characteristic biological traits (for more information about "basic" emotions, see Appendix A). By adopting new methods that allow you to "look" into the human body and brain, researchers are discovering more and more physiological details of how each emotion prepares the body for completely different responses.
- In a moment of anger, blood rushes to the hands, allowing you to quickly and easily grab a weapon or strike an enemy; heart rate increases, and the release of hormones, such as adrenaline, provides a charge of energy that is enough for decisive action.
- When a person's fear sets in, blood rushes to large skeletal muscles, particularly the leg muscles, helping to run quickly from danger; man fades, what happens as a result of the outflow of blood from the head (there is a feeling that the blood "run cold"). Instantly, the body freezes, though only for a short time, probably giving time to assess the situation and decide whether it would be best to hide in a secluded place as soon as possible. Circuits in the emotional centers of the brain trigger the release of hormones, putting the body in a state of General alert, making it burn with impatience and preparing for action. Attention is focused on the immediate threat: you need to quickly and better determine what decision to make in this situation.
- Among the many biological changes that occur when a person is happy, we note the increased activity of the brain center, which suppresses negative feelings, calms experiences that provoke disturbing thoughts, and promotes the flow of energy. At the same time, however, there are no special changes in physiology, except for the fact that a state of rest occurs. It allows the body to recover faster from the activation of destructive emotions. Such a device provides the body with a General rest, as well as a state of readiness and inspiration necessary for performing any urgent task and moving towards new large-scale goals.
- Love, tender feelings, and sexual satisfaction trigger the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is physiologically the opposite of the "fight or flight" type of mobilization caused by fear or anger. The parasympathetic model, which duplicates the "relaxation response", is formed by a set of reactions distributed throughout the body, creating a General state of rest and satisfaction, contributing to psychological compatibility.
- By raising their eyebrows in surprise, the person increases the space covered by the gaze, and lets more light fall on the retina. As a result, it is possible to gather more information about an unexpected event in order to get the most accurate picture of what is happening and develop the best plan of action.
- Disgust is expressed in the same way everywhere and conveys the same feeling: something literally or figuratively smells bad or tastes unpleasant. The expression on the face of a person who is disgusted – the raised upper lip and slightly wrinkled nose – suggests an initial attempt, as Darwin observed, to hold the nose so as not to smell a disgusting smell, or to spit out something poisonous or disgusting.
- The main function of sadness is to help deal with an irreparable loss, such as the death of someone close to you or a serious disappointment. Sadness leads to a sharp decrease in energy. We stop being interested in anything that brings pleasure. The greater the sadness, the closer the depression, which leads to a slower metabolism. This self – withdrawal, with its accompanying introspection, provides an opportunity to mourn the loss or unfulfilled hope, reflect on its consequences for later life, and – with a return of energy-start planning new beginnings. The loss of energy probably kept the sad and vulnerable people of the ancient world closer to home, where they were safe.
Our life experience and culture contribute to the formation of a biologically determined predisposition to action. For example, the loss of a loved one causes everyone sadness and grief. But the way we reveal our grief – showing or holding back emotions until no one sees us – is shaped by culture. As well as what kind of people in our lives fall into the number of loved ones whose death we mourn.
Emotional responses were developed over a long period of evolution. This was a harsher reality than most people lived in after the actual story began. In pre – written eras, very few infants lived to be children, and very few adults to be thirty. Predators could attack at any time, droughts and floods put a person on the line between starvation and survival. But with the advent of agriculture and human communities, even in the most rudimentary form, the chances of survival have increased dramatically. Over the past ten thousand years, when the achievements of civilization began to spread around the world, the number of severe circumstances that held back population growth has steadily weakened.
Difficulties have made our emotional responses so important for survival. The weaker the responses, the less well-matched the rest of the emotional repertoire. If in ancient times, an instant anger could give a decisive chance for survival, in our days, the availability of automatic weapons for thirteen-year-olds too often turns its manifestations into a disaster.
Our two minds
A friend of mine once told me how she was painfully divorced from her husband: he fell in love with a young woman and suddenly announced that he was leaving. This was followed by months of bitter arguments about the house, money, and children. Time passed, and she began to say that she liked independence, that she was happy to be her own mistress. "I don't think about him anymore – I don't care at all," she said. But after that, her eyes filled with tears.
The tears that filled her eyes for a moment might well have gone unnoticed. But empathic understanding – someone's tear-blurred gaze means that someone is sad, even though the words say otherwise-is the same way to grasp the truth as reading a printed text. In one case it is a matter of the emotional mind, in the other of the rational mind. In fact, we have two minds: one thinks, the other feels.
The interaction of these two radically different processes is what makes up our mental life. One process carried out by the rational mind is a mode of comprehension that we are usually aware of: it is more noticeable in the result (the knowledge obtained), it is saturated with thoughts, it reflects the ability of the rational to think and reflect. But along with this, there is another system of knowledge, powerful and impulsive, although sometimes illogical – the emotional mind. (For a more detailed description of the characteristics of the emotional mind, see Appendix B).
The division into "emotional" and "rational "roughly corresponds to the difference between" heart "and" head", realized at the everyday level. If we understand the correctness of something in our "heart", this creates a different kind of conviction-a kind of deeper confidence – than if we realize the same thing in our "mind"alone. There is always a constant indicator of change in the ratio of rational and emotional control: the stronger the feeling, the more the emotional mind prevails, the less influence the rational mind has. Such a mechanism seems to have developed over billions of years of evolution. Then emotions and intuition controlled our instant reaction in deadly situations, and a break for reflection could cost our lives.
These two minds – emotional and rational – are almost always in agreement, combining fundamentally different ways of knowing to successfully guide us in the world. There is usually a balance between the emotional mind and the rational mind: emotions feed the rational mind and inspire it to act, and the rational mind ennobles emotions and in some cases prohibits their expression. Yet the emotional and rational minds are semi-Autonomous. Each, as we will see later, represents the work of a separate, though correlated, circuit in the brain.
In most cases, these minds are strictly coordinated: feelings are necessary for thinking, and thinking is necessary for feelings. But if the passions are raging, the balance is disturbed. So the emotional mind took over and suppressed the rational mind. The sixteenth-century humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote mockingly of the eternal conflict between reason and emotion:
Jupiter gave [people] a lot more passion than intelligence, well, let's say in a ratio of 24 to 1. To the sole power of reason, he opposed two ferocious tyrants: anger and lust. The extent to which reason can prevail over the combined forces of these two is clearly revealed by ordinary human life. The mind does the only thing it can – it screams until it is hoarse, repeating the formulas of the basic virtues, until the other two tell it to go to hell and generally behave more and more loudly and insultingly, until their Ruler runs out of breath, waves his hand and gives in.
How the brain developed
To better understand how strong the influence of emotions can be on thinking – and why feeling and reason are so easily at war – let's look at how the brain developed. The human brain is approximately 1.4 kg of cells and neural fluids, the size is about three times more of the brain of our closest relatives in the evolution – primates that do not belong to the human race. Over millions of years of evolution, the brain has grown, and the development of its higher centers was due to the improvement of the lower parts. (The growth of the brain of a human embryo roughly repeats the evolutionary process).
The most primitive part of the brain in all species whose nervous system is slightly more than minimal is the brain stem surrounding the top of the spinal cord. The primary brain controls major vital functions, such as breathing and metabolism, as well as stereotypical responses and movements. The simplest brain is not capable of thinking or learning, rather it is a set of pre-programmed regulators that maintain the proper functioning of the body and reactions that ensure survival. This brain reigned Supreme in the "age of reptiles" (imagine a snake hissing a threat of attack).
From the simplest root – the brain stem – emotional centers emerged. After millions of years of evolution, the thinking brain, or "neocortex" (the new homogenetic cortex), a large bulb of curved tissue that forms the upper layers, developed from these emotional zones. The fact that the thinking brain evolved from the emotional brain says a lot about the relationship between thought and feeling: the emotional brain existed long before the rational brain appeared.
The basis of our emotional life is the sense of smell, or, more precisely, the olfactory lobe of the brain, whose cells perceive smell. Every living thing – edible or venomous, sexual partner, predator or prey – has a special distinctive molecular "autograph" that can be carried by the wind. In ancient times the smell has established itself as a feeling of the utmost importance for survival.
From the olfactory lobe of the brain, primary centers of emotion began to develop, eventually growing large enough to cover the top of the brain stem. In its infancy, the olfactory center consisted of fairly thin layers of nerve cells gathered together to test the smell. One layer of cells examined what gave off the smell and assigned it to the appropriate category (edible or poisonous, sexually acceptable, enemy or candidate for eating). The second layer of cells transmitted reflexive information through the nervous system, telling the body what to do (bite, spit, approach, escape, chase).
In the first mammals, new vital layers of the emotional brain were formed, which, encircling the brain stem, looked like a yoke with a notch at the bottom (where the brain stem enters). Since this part of the brain encircles and borders the brain stem, it was called the "limbic" system from the Latin word limb, which means "ring". The new area added emotion to the brain's repertoire. And when we find ourselves in the grip of longing or rage, head over heels in love or shuddering with horror – all this is the result of the limbic system.
As the limbic system evolved, it improved two powerful mechanisms: learning and memory. These kinds of revolutionary advances made the animal more savvy when choosing how to behave in order to survive, and helped it fine-tune its responses to adapt to changing needs, rather than reacting automatically in all cases. If the food is such that you can get sick from it, then you should avoid it next time. Decisions about what to eat and what to refuse were still largely made by smell. Connections between the olfactory bulb and the limbic system performed the functions of recognizing and distinguishing odors by comparing a new smell with a known one. This was how the good was distinguished from the bad. The process was carried out by the rhinencephalon (literally "nasal brain"), which is part of the limbic circuit, and the rudimentary basis of the neocortex – the thinking brain.
About 100 million years ago, there was a dramatic jump in the development of the mammalian brain. Several new layers of brain cells were formed on top of the thin two-layer cortex (i.e., the cortex, the areas that deal with planning, awareness of what is perceived by the senses, and coordination of movements), resulting in the formation of the neocortex. In comparison with double-layered cortex of the brain primitive mammalian neocortex gave an incredible advantage in the intellectual sense.
The neocortex of Homo sapiens, which is much larger than that of other species, has caused all that is inherent in humans. The neocortex is the center of thinking. It contains centers where information coming from the senses is combined and realized. The neocortex adds reflection to the feeling, and we also gain the ability to experience – in connection with the perception of ideas, art, symbols, and mental images.
As a result of the gradual development of the neocortex, fine-tuning has become possible, which has undoubtedly provided us with enormous advantages in terms of survival in difficult circumstances. It also increased the likelihood that offspring, in turn, pass on genes containing the same neural circuitry. The advantages from the point of view of survival are explained by the ability of the neocortex to the development of strategy, long-term planning and other mental tricks. In addition, all the triumphant achievements of art, civilization, and culture are the fruits of the neocortex.
This new addition to the brain added nuances to emotional life. Take love, for example. Limbic structures generate feelings of pleasure and sexual attraction – emotions that feed a strong sexual feeling. But by adding the neocortex and its connecting elements to the limbic system, a mother-child bond has been formed that has become the Foundation of the family and the long-term commitment to raise the child, making it possible for the full development of the human being. (Species that lack the neocortex, such as reptiles, lack maternal attachment; when the cubs hatch, the newborns have to urgently hide, so as not to fall victim to their relatives.) In humans, parental protection of offspring allows for long-term brain development: it is gradually formed over a long period of childhood.
As we climb the phylogenetic ladder from reptiles to rhesus macaques and humans, we notice that the net mass of the neocortex increases. The increase in the internal connections of the brain circuit occurs exponentially. The more compounds, the wider the range of possible reactions. The neocortex allows for a sophisticated and complex emotional life, such as the ability to empathize with experiences. The neocortex/limbic system ratio in primates is tougher than in other species, and in humans it is much tougher than in primates, so we are able to show a much wider range of responses to our emotions and discover more nuances. The rabbit or rhesus macaque has a limited set of typical responses to fear, and the human neocortex provides a much more diverse repertoire, including even dialing 9117. The more complex the social system, the more important flexibility is, and there is no more complex world than ours.
But the higher centers do not control the entire emotional life; in crucial matters that affect the heart strings – and especially in difficult situations that cause extreme emotional excitement – they can be said to give way to the limbic system. Because so many higher centers of the brain have grown out of or out of the limbic zone, the emotional brain plays a crucial role in the structure of the nervous system. As the root from which the new brain grew, the emotional regions are intertwined with all parts of the neocortex by myriad connecting circuits. This gives the emotional centers unlimited opportunities to influence the functioning of the rest of the brain, including the centers of thought.
Chapter 2. The anatomy of emotional banditry
Life is a Comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel. Horace Walpole
It happened on a hot August afternoon in 1963, at the same time that the Reverend Martin Luther king, Jr., delivered the "I have a dream today" speech to participants in the civil rights March on Washington. On that day, Richard Robles, a burglar by profession who had just been paroled from prison, where he was serving a three-year sentence for more than a hundred burglaries (driven by his addiction to heroin), decided on another one. Robles, as he later admitted, did not want to commit a crime, but he desperately needed money for his girlfriend and their three-year-old daughter.
The apartment he had moved into at the time belonged to two young women, Janice Wiley, who collected materials for Newsweek magazine, and Emily Hoffert, who worked as an elementary school teacher. One was 21 years old, the other 23. Robles chose an apartment in a posh area of new York, on the Upper East side. He was sure no one was home. But Janice was there. After threatening her with a knife, Robles tied her up. As he was leaving, Emily returned. In order to leave unhindered, he had to tie her up as well.
Robles told his version of events many years later. When he tied up Emily, Janice threatened that he would not get away with the crime: she remembered his face and would help the police track him down and catch him. Robles, who had promised himself that this would be his last theft, panicked at the threat and completely lost control of himself. In a rage, he grabbed a bottle of soda and began to beat the women until they lost consciousness, and then, unable to remember himself from rage and fear, slashed both with a kitchen knife. Looking back twenty - five years later, Robles lamented: "It was like my head was blown off, I went crazy."
Now Robles has plenty of time to lament a few moments of unbridled anger. At the time of writing, three decades later, he was still in prison for a double murder that became known as the "murder of working girls."
Such emotional outbursts are pure banditry on the part of the nerves. At such times, it is obvious that some center in the limbic brain declares a state of emergency, mobilizing the rest of the cells to solve pressing issues. A gang attack occurs in the blink of an eye, triggering a reaction at critical moments before the thinking neocortex has time to fully comprehend what is happening, let alone decide whether the idea is a good one. As soon as the moment of rage passes, those who just seemed possessed can not understand what came over them.
Aggressive emotional attacks are not isolated, horrifying incidents that lead to brutal murders like the one described above. In a less catastrophic, but not necessarily less acute form, this happens quite often. Think back to the last time you "freaked out" over someone-your spouse, or child, or perhaps the driver of another car-to the point where later, on reflection, or just in hindsight, it didn't seem justified. In all probability, there was a "bandit RAID", a seizure of power by the nerves, which, as we will see, originates in the amygdala – the center located in the limbic brain.
Not all limbic attacks cause suffering. When someone finds a joke so funny that they literally burst out laughing, this is also a response from the limbic system. It also works in moments of intense joy: when Dan Jensen, After several frustratingly unsuccessful attempts to win an Olympic gold medal in the speed skating competition (which he vowed to do to his dying sister), finally won the 1000 m gold medal at the 1994 winter Olympics in Norway, his wife was so excited that she was rushed to the emergency doctors on duty at the ice arena.
5. 1 English (American) yard is equal to 0.9144 m. Ed.
6. Phylogenetic – an adjective from the word "phylogeny" – the historical development of organisms, or the evolution of the organic world, various types, classes, orders, families, genera and species; we can also talk about the phylogeny of certain organs.
7. 911 – phone number of the rescue service. Ed.
8. Daniel Erwin "Dan" Jensen – American speed skater, Olympic champion in 1994 Ed.
The seat of all passions
The amygdala (amygdale – from the Greek word for "amygdala") in humans is a group of interconnected structures located above the brain stem near the lower part of the limbic ring. There are two amygdala-like bodies in humans, one on each side of the brain, lying closer to the side of the head. The human amygdala is quite large compared to the amygdala of any of our closest evolutionary relatives, the primates.
The hippocampus and amygdala are the two main components of the primitive "nasal brain", from which the cortex and then the neocortex evolved. To this day, these limbic structures perform most or even most of the brain's functions, such as learning and remembering, and the amygdala is a great "specialist" in the field of emotions. If the amygdala is disconnected from the rest of the brain, there is a striking inability to assess the emotional significance of events. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as "affective or emotional blindness".
When they lose their emotional significance, they lose their power over us. One young man who had his amygdala surgically removed to prevent severe epileptic seizures has since lost interest in people and prefers to be alone, not maintaining any contact with anyone. Having retained the ability to communicate and talk, he stopped recognizing close friends, relatives, and even his mother, and remained indifferent to their feelings about his indifference. Having lost the amygdala, he probably lost the ability to recognize feelings, as well as any concept of feelings in General. The amygdala serves as a repository of emotional memory and, therefore, plays an extremely important role. In the life of a person without an amygdala, there is nothing that affects his personality.
The presence of the amygdala is not only due to attachment; all passions and Hobbies depend on it. Animals with the amygdala removed or separated from the main brain are unfamiliar with fear and rage, have no compulsion to compete or unite, and lose their sense of their place in the social organization of their species; and their emotions are blunted or absent. The mechanism of tears, as an emotional signal that is unique to a person, is triggered by the amygdala and the nearest structure – the cingulate gyrus of the brain; if a person is supported, caressed, or otherwise comforted, it will calm the same areas of the brain and stop sobbing. In the absence of the amygdala, there are no tears of grief at all, and comfort is not required.
Joseph Ledoux, a neurologist at the new York University center for neurology, was the first to establish that the amygdala plays a major role in the emotional brain. Joseph Ledoux is one of the younger generation of neurologists who are developing new methods and technologies that allow them to conduct research with previously unthinkable levels of accuracy, in order to map the brain in the process of work and thus penetrate the secrets of the psyche that scientists of previous generations considered incomprehensible. His discoveries related to the emotional brain circuitry refuted ingrained ideas about the limbic system. They made the amygdala the main "actor" and presented the role of other limbic structures in a completely different light.
The results of a study led by Ledoux showed how the amygdala can take control of our actions even when the thinking brain is still working out a solution. As we will learn later, the workings of the amygdala and its interaction with the neocortex are the essence of the emotional mind.
Neural wiring for transmitting signals
The greatest interest in understanding the power of emotions in our mental life is caused by actions committed in the heat of passion, which we then – as soon as everything calms down – regret. The question is why we lose our heads so easily. Take, for example, a young woman who drove two hours to Boston to have Breakfast and spend the day with her boyfriend. At this Breakfast-dinner, he gave her a gift that she had been waiting for for many months – a scarce art print brought from Spain. But her excitement evaporated when she suggested going to an afternoon movie session after Breakfast to watch a movie she really wanted to see, and her boyfriend stunned her by saying that he couldn't spend the whole day with her because he had softball practice. Offended and incredulous, she burst into tears, ran out of the cafe, and on an impulse threw the print in the trash. A few months later, when she recalled the incident, it was not that she had left her boyfriend, but the loss of the print.
It is at such moments – when impulsive feeling tramples on reason – that the newly discovered role of the amygdala becomes crucial. The signals coming from the senses allow the amygdala to check each experience for the presence of anxiety in it. This gives the amygdala the opportunity to take a leading position in mental life, becoming a kind of psychological sentry, addressing every situation, every sensation, always with the same type and the most primitive questions: "Is this something I can't stand? Does this hurt me? Is this something I'm afraid of?» If this is the case (the current situation somehow implies an affirmative answer), then the amygdala reacts instantly, like a nervous wiring, transmitting a message about a critical moment to all parts of the brain.
In the architecture of the brain, the amygdala is in a state of alert, resembling a rapid response service, whose operators are ready to send an emergency call to the fire station, the police, and the neighbor's apartment whenever the security system in the house gives an alarm.
By sending an alarm, such as fear, the amygdala sends urgent messages to all major parts of the brain. This triggers the secretion of fight– or-flight hormones in the body, mobilizing the centers that provide movement and activating the cardiovascular system, muscles, and digestive canal. Other circuits originating from the amygdala transmit signals for the release of critical doses of the hormone norepinephrine (or norepinephrine) to increase the reactivity of key areas of the brain, including those that increase the alertness of the senses. In fact, the brain is put on full alert. By sending additional signals, the amygdala instructs the brain stem to fix a startled expression on the face, stop all muscle movements that are not relevant to the situation, increase the heart rate, raise blood pressure, and slow down breathing. Other structures focus on the source of fear and prepare the muscles for the appropriate response. At the same time, the cortical memory systems (related to the cerebral cortex) are "shaken up". From there, any information relevant to the current critical situation is extracted. These operations dominate over the other.
But all of this is only part of a carefully coordinated set of changes that the amygdala manages by requisitioning areas of the brain (for more information, see Appendix B). The amygdala has at its disposal an extensive network of neural connections that, in the event of an emotional accident, allows it to capture and activate most of the rest of the brain, including the rational mind.
A friend told me how, while on holiday in England, he once walked along the canal embankment and stopped for Breakfast in a small, very cozy cafe. After finishing his Breakfast, he decided to take a short walk. As he descended the stone steps of the broad staircase to the canal, he suddenly saw a girl gazing intently at the water. There was a look of horror on her face. Without giving himself time to think, he jumped into the water without even taking off his jacket and tie. It was only when he was in the water that he realized that the girl was looking at the child who had fallen into the water, frozen with fear. Fortunately, he was able to save it.
What made my friend throw himself into the water before he realized why? The answer is simple: in all probability, the amygdala.
Ledoux's work has taken its rightful place among the most impressive discoveries of the last decade in the field of emotions. It reveals how the architecture of the brain provides the amygdala with the privileged position of an "emotional sentinel" capable of taking over the brain. According to the study, sensory signals from the eye or ear pass in the brain first to the thalamus (visual hillock), and then – through a single synapse (the junction of two nerve cells) – to the amygdala. The second signal from the thalamus is sent to the neocortex, the thinking brain. Thanks to this branching, the amygdala begins to respond early in the neocortex, which "brainwaves" information at several levels of the brain circuits before it fully accepts it and finally proceeds to action in the form of a response that is optimal in a particular situation.
Ledoux's research revolutionized the understanding of emotional life by opening up neural pathways that conduct feelings around the neocortex. Those feelings that go straight through the amygdala are the most primitive and powerful. The presence of such a chain explains the ability of emotions to prevail over common sense.
In neuroscience, it has traditionally been assumed that the eye, ear, and other sensory organs transmit signals to the thalamus, from which they flow to the neocortex areas that process sensory information. There, the signals are brought together, and we perceive objects. Signals are sorted by meaning: this is how the brain is aware of what each object is and what its presence means. According to the previous theory, signals from the neocortex are sent to the limbic brain, from which the corresponding response is distributed throughout the brain and the entire body. This way the system works most or almost all of the time. However, Ledoux found a smaller bundle of neurons running from the thalamus directly to the amygdala, in addition to those bundles that form a longer path from the thalamus to the cortex. A narrow and short pathway – something like a neural back alley-allows the amygdala to receive some input signals directly from the senses and trigger a response before they are fully registered by the neocortex.
This discovery refutes the idea that the amygdala is completely dependent on signals from the neocortex for the formation of emotional responses. The amygdala can trigger an emotional response through an emergency response just because a parallel reflective chain begins between the amygdala and the neocortex. The amygdala can make us jump into action, while the slightly slower but more knowledgeable neocortex unfolds its more nuanced response plan.
Ledoux refuted conventional wisdom about the pathways that emotions travel by publishing the results of his research on the behavior of animals experiencing fear. In one of the crucial experiments with rats, he destroyed their auditory cortex, and then exposed them to a sound of a certain tone in combination with electric shock. The rats quickly learned to be afraid of sound, although this tonal signal could not be registered in their neocortex. The sound followed a direct route: from the ear to the thalamus, and then to the amygdala, bypassing all the main paths. In short, the rats learned the emotional response without any higher cortex involvement: the amygdala independently perceived, memorized, and "orchestrated" their fear.
"From an anatomical point of view, the emotional system may well work independently of the neocortex, – Ledoux explained to me. "Sometimes some emotional responses and memories are formed completely unconsciously." The amygdala is able to store memories and a whole set of responses that we use, not always understanding why we do so: the direct and shortest road from the thalamus to the amygdala bypasses the neocortex.
The visual signal from the retina first passes to the thalamus, where it is translated into a language that the brain understands. Then most of the information is transmitted to the visual cortex of the cerebral hemispheres, where it is analyzed, its meaning is evaluated, and it is determined which response is most appropriate in this case. If an emotional response is required, the signal will be sent to the amygdala to excite the emotional centers. At the same time, a smaller portion of the initial signal travels along the high-speed path from the thalamus directly to the amygdala, providing a faster (but less accurate) response. In this way, the amygdala may respond to a stimulus with an emotional response before areas of the cortex are fully aware of what actually happened.
Thanks to the workaround, the amygdala seems to serve as a repository for emotional impressions and memories that we don't even know we have. Ledoux believes that the mysterious role played by the amygdala in the mechanism of memory explains, for example, the striking results of such an experiment: participants learned to distinguish geometric shapes of bizarre shapes that flashed before their eyes with such speed that they did not even realize that they actually saw them.
Another study showed that in the first milliseconds of our perception of something, we not only unconsciously understand what it is, but also decide whether we like it or not. The "cognitive unconscious" provides an opportunity not only to recognize what we see, but also to form an opinion. Our emotions have a mind that holds its own views completely independent of our diet.
Specialist in emotional memory
Unconscious "inferences" make up emotional memories, and their storage is the amygdala. Studies conducted by Ledoux and other neurologists suggest that the hippocampus, long considered the main structure of the limbic system, is more involved in registering and clarifying the meaning of perceived images than in forming emotional responses. The main contribution of the hippocampus is to ensure deep memorization of the situation, which is very important from the point of view of emotional content. It is the hippocampus that is aware that, say, a bear in a zoo and in your backyard are facts whose meaning does not match.
While the hippocampus "remembers" the bare facts, the amygdala stores in memory the emotional flavor inherent in these facts. If we try to overtake a car on a two-lane road and narrowly avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming car, the hippocampus will remember the details of the incident (which section of road we were driving on, who was with us, what the other car looked like). But it is the amygdala that will then cover us with a wave of fear every time we try to overtake a car in similar circumstances. As Ledoux told me, "the hippocampus plays a crucial role in recognizing your cousin's face. But only the amygdala adds that you can't stand it."
The brain uses a simple but clever way to register emotional memories. These are the same neurochemical systems of "combat readiness" that "train" the body to fight or flight to respond to life-threatening emergencies, and also capture the moment in memory. In a state of stress (or anxiety, or perhaps even strong excitement), the nerve that runs from the brain to the adrenal glands located in the upper part of the kidneys initiates the secretion of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which roll through the body in a wave, preparing it in advance for a critical situation. These hormones excite receptors on the vagus nerve. In addition to the fact that the vagus nerve transmits messages from the brain that control the heart, it also serves as a means of transmitting back to the brain signals produced under the influence of epinephrine and norepinephrine. The amygdala occupies the main place in the brain where all signals are received. They excite neurons, or nerve cells, in the amygdala itself to inform other areas of the brain to better remember what is happening.
With this activation of the amygdala, most moments of emotional arousal seem to be captured with special force. This is why we usually remember well where we went on our first date or what we were doing when we heard the news about the explosion of the Challenger spacecraft»9. the more aroused the amygdala, the stronger the impression: it is no secret that the events that scared or shocked us more than others, remain for us indelible memories. So the brain actually has two memory systems: one for ordinary events, the other for emotionally charged ones. A system specifically designed for emotionally charged memories has played a critical role in the evolution process, enabling animals to retain particularly vivid memories of things that threatened or gave them pleasure. However, in these times, emotional memories can be a poor guide.
Outdated neural alarms alarm
One of the disadvantages of neural signaling devices is that the urgent message sent by the amygdala is often outdated, especially in the changing human world. Diligently serving as a receptacle for emotional memory, the amygdala scans everything experienced, comparing what is happening at the moment with what happened in the past. It uses a method of comparison called associative: if one main defining element of the current situation repeats the same important element of the past, it can be called a "coincidence". This is why the chain "floats": it is triggered before the fact is fully confirmed. The amygdala habitually tells us to react in the present, using the methods that were imprinted in us in the distant past, along with thoughts, emotions, and reactions conceived in response to events that are probably only very vaguely similar to what is happening today, but are quite suitable to drive the amygdala into a panic.
The case of a former military nurse who worked in a hospital during the war is significant. Then she received a mental trauma due to the endless series of soldiers arriving at the hospital with terrible wounds. Years later, one afternoon, she literally shuddered from a sudden panic attack, mixed with horror and disgust. This was her typical front-line reaction, triggered again many years later by the strange stench she felt when she opened the closet door and... found a poop-covered diaper hidden by her son, who had barely started walking. A few accompanying small moments are all that is needed to make the situation look like some danger in the past. And it will prompt the amygdala to declare a state of emergency. The trouble is that along with emotionally rich memories that can trigger a response to critical circumstances, equally outdated ways of responding also work.
At such times, the inaccuracy of the emotional brain response is compounded by the fact that many deep emotional memories go back to the very first years of life, to the relationship between the child and those who care for him. This is especially true for traumatic events like beatings or complete abandonment. In early life, other brain structures, such as the hippocampus, which plays a crucial role in thematic memories, and the neocortex, the center of rational thinking, have yet to fully develop. When it comes to memory, the amygdala and hippocampus work together. Each of them stores and retrieves its own special information independently of the other. While the hippocampus recovers information, the amygdala decides whether it has any emotional valence.11 But the amygdala, which very quickly reaches full development in the infant's brain, is almost fully formed at birth.
Ledoux seeks in the role played by the amygdala in childhood a confirmation of the basic principle on which psychoanalytic thought has long been based. Here it is: the interactions that take place in the earliest years of life determine a set of emotional lessons that are based on the mutual mood or mismatch between the infant and those who care for him. These emotional lessons are extremely important, although they are very difficult to understand from the point of view of adult life, because, according to Ledoux, they are stored in the amygdala as rough, unspeakable programs of emotional life. Early emotional memories take root even before the baby has words to describe their experiences. And then later, when they are actualized, we do not have any corresponding set of clearly formulated principles about the reaction that takes hold of us. So the only reason we are so puzzled by our emotional outbursts is that they often come from earlier periods of our lives. At that time, circumstances baffled us, and we could not yet put into words our understanding of events. Now we are overwhelmed with confused feelings, and there are still no words to Express the memories that formed them.
9. "Challenger" – reusable transport spacecraft, the second space Shuttle; launched into space in 1983-1986. Ed.
10. Scanning – continuous ordered element-by-element scanning of a space or object.
11. Valence – the property of an object to be attractive or repulsive.
When emotions are agile and "illiterate»
It must have been three o'clock in the morning when something huge broke through the ceiling in the far corner of my bedroom, spilling the contents of the attic into the room. In the blink of an eye, I was out of bed and out of the room, driven by the fear that the entire ceiling was about to collapse. After a while, when I realized that I was safe, I cautiously looked into the bedroom to find out what had caused the commotion. I discovered that what I thought was the sound of the ceiling collapsing was actually the fall of a huge stack of boxes stacked in the corner by my wife (who had been tidying up her closet the day before). Nothing fell from the attic for the simple reason that we don't have an attic. The ceiling was intact, as was I.
My jump out of bed in a half-asleep state (it would have saved me from injury if the ceiling had actually collapsed) illustrates the ability of the amygdala to prompt us to act in emergency situations. Several vital moments pass before the neocortex is fully aware of what is happening. The way emergency information is transmitted from the eye or ear to the thalamus, and from it to the amygdala, is crucial: it saves time in a critical situation when an instant response is required. However, only a small part of sensory information is transmitted along the chain from the thalamus to the amygdala, and most of it passes along the main pathway – to the neocortex. So in the amygdala on the Express route, at best, a simple signal is received, performing only the role of a warning. Ledoux noticed: "You don't need to know exactly what happened to know that there may be danger."
The direct pathway has a huge advantage, since the brain is triggered in thousandths of a second. For example, the amygdala of a rat's brain begins to respond to perception in less than twelve milliseconds, or twelve thousandths of a second. The path from the thalamus to the neocortex, and from it to the amygdala, is about twelve times longer. Similar measurements in the human brain have yet to be made, but, according to a rough estimate, the results are likely to be the same.
During the period of evolution, the importance of the direct path in terms of survival was probably huge, because by providing a quick response option, it saved several critical milliseconds of responding to danger. And these milliseconds could have saved the lives of our proto-mammalian ancestors, and in so many situations that this mechanism is fixed in the brain of every mammal, including yours and mine. Although this chain may now play a relatively limited role in the mental life of humans (leading mainly to emotional outbursts), a significant part of the mental life of birds, fish and reptiles occurs with its direct participation, because, in fact, their survival depends on constant tracking of a predator or prey. "The primitive small brain apparatus in mammals turns out to be the main one in non – mammals," notes Ledoux. – It allows you to turn on emotions very quickly, although it works somehow: the cells work quickly, but not too accurately."
Such inaccuracy, for example, is excellent in a squirrel: if it makes mistakes in its reactions, it is only in the direction of increasing its own safety, fleeing at the first sign of the appearance of something similar to a formidable enemy or rushing forward to grab something edible. As for a person, in their emotional life, inaccuracy sometimes has disastrous consequences for our relationship. Figuratively speaking, we can attack the wrong thing or person, or run away from the wrong thing or person. (Imagine, for example, a waitress who drops a tray of six meals on the floor when she sees a woman with a huge shock of red curls who looks exactly like the one her husband recently left her for.)
Such anticipatory emotional errors are based on the fact that the feeling precedes the thought. Ledoux calls this a "pre-recognition emotion," a reaction based on bits and pieces of sensory information transmitted along the neural pathways that are not completely put in order and combined into a recognizable object. Sensory information is completely unprocessed, like a neural game of "guess the tune". Only instead of an instant conclusion about the melody after sounding a few notes, here the General idea of what is happening is formed from the first few tentative passages. If the amygdala detects the appearance of an important sensory image, it will jump to a conclusion, reacting before it receives complete – or any-confirmation.
It is not surprising that we are completely unable to penetrate the darkness of our explosive emotions. Especially if they keep us in thrall. The amygdala may react in a frenzy of rage or fear before the cortex finds out what is happening: the raw emotion is triggered independently of thinking and is ahead of it.
A friend's six-year-old daughter, Jessica, was staying at a friend's house for the first time in her life. It is not clear who was more nervous – the mother or daughter. Although her mother tried not to let Jessica know how worried she was, the tension reached its maximum by midnight, when she was about to go to bed and heard the phone ring. She dropped her toothbrush and ran to the phone. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and her mind was racing with images of Jessica in terrible trouble.
My mother snatched up the phone and blurted out: "Jessica!» and she heard a woman's voice say, "Oh, I must have got the wrong number..." And then her mother regained her composure and asked in a polite, even tone, " what's the matter?": "What phone number do you dial?»
While the amygdala is working on triggering an anxious impulsive response, another part of the emotional brain provides the possibility of a more appropriate corrective response. The brain's damping switch for amygdala surge impulses seems to be at the other end of the main circuit leading to the neocortex, in the prefrontal lobes, just behind the forehead. The prefrontal area of the cerebral cortex operates, apparently, when a person is scared or pissed off. It also suppresses or controls the feeling so that the person can better cope with the situation that has arisen, if, for example, a second assessment requires a completely different reaction (as in the case of a concerned mother on the phone). The neocortical area of the brain triggers an analytical, more appropriate response to our emotional impulses, modulating the work of the amygdala and other areas of the limbic system.
Usually, the prefrontal areas control our emotional responses from the very beginning. As we already know, most of the sensory information from the thalamus does not go to the amygdala, but to the neocortex and its many centers for assimilation and understanding of what is actually perceived. This information and our response to it are coordinated by the prefrontal lobes of the brain, where planning and organizing activities in relation to the goal, including emotional ones, are concentrated. A cascade of circuits in the neocortex registers and analyzes this information, recognizes it, and uses the prefrontal lobes of the brain to "instrument" the response. If an emotional response is required along the way, the prefrontal lobes give the order to trigger, acting in close relationship with the amygdala and other circuits of the emotional brain.
This is a classic sequence that allows you to make distinctions and determine whether an emotional response is needed in a given situation. Serious with the exception of "emotional stress". When an emotion is activated, the prefrontal lobes instantly perform operations to determine the "danger – benefit" ratio, scrolling through myriad possible reactions. The choice assumes the best: for animals – when to attack, when to run away, for humans the same – when to attack, when to run away. But in addition, when to calm down, persuade, seek to arouse sympathy, "play only in defense", provoke a sense of guilt, cry, show ostentatious courage, show contempt... etc.in accordance with the full repertoire of emotional tricks.
The response from the neocortex is slower (in terms of brain processing time) than the "emotional RAID mechanism" is triggered, because it follows a longer chain. However, it usually turns out to be more appropriate and balanced, since the feeling is preceded by some reflection. If we suffer a loss and grieve, or feel happy about an important victory, or reflect on someone's words or actions, and then get upset or angry, then the neocortex is working at full speed.
Here everything happens in the same way as with the amygdala: inactivity of the prefrontal lobes leads to a significant weakening of emotional life. If there is no understanding that what is happening deserves an emotional response, no response will follow. Neurologists ' first guesses about the role played by the prefrontal lobes in the expression of emotions were born with the discovery in the 1940s of a rather reckless (and, unfortunately, incorrect) surgical method of "treating" mental illnesses called "prefrontal lobotomy", by which (often very carelessly) part of the prefrontal lobes was removed or otherwise cut the connections between the prefrontal cortex (that is, the prefrontal cortex) and the lower brain. Until the development of sufficiently effective methods of drug therapy for mental illness, lobotomy was proclaimed the only remedy for severe emotional disorders: the main thing is to break the connections between the prefrontal lobes and the rest of the brain... and no more sorrows. Unfortunately, most of the patients seemed to have no emotional life at all at the same time. And no wonder, because the main chain was broken.
Emotional thuggery seems to imply two dynamics: the activation of the amygdala and the disruption of the activation of neocortical processes that usually keep the emotional response in balance, or the mobilization of neocortical zones in connection with an emotional RAID. At such times, the emotional mind overwhelms the rational mind. The only way for the prefrontal cortex to show itself as a skilled emotion Manager, weighing responses before acting, is to weaken the activation signals sent by the amygdala and other limbic centers. He behaves like a parent who does not allow an impulsive child to grab everything: he teaches the child to correctly ask (or wait) for what he wants.
The main "switch" of painful emotions, apparently, is the left prefrontal lobe. Neuropsychologists who study the moods of patients with injuries to the frontal lobes of the brain have established that one of the duties of the left frontal lobe is the work of a "neural thermostat" that regulates unpleasant emotions. The right prefrontal lobes contain negative feelings like fear and aggression, while the left lobes control these raw emotions, probably depressing the right lobe. For example, in one group of patients who had a stroke, the damage was located in the left prefrontal cortex. They were subject to catastrophic anxiety and fears. Patients with damage to the right turned out to be "too funny". During neurological examinations, they joked endlessly, were serene, and did not seem to care about their health. There was also the case of a happy husband whose right prefrontal lobe was partially removed during surgery for a congenital brain defect. His wife told doctors that after the operation, he had a dramatic change in personality: he was much less upset and – she was happy to say – became more affectionate.
In short, the left prefrontal lobe seems to be part of a neural circuit that can turn off, or at least moderate, all emotions except the strongest negative outbursts. While the amygdala often acts as an emergency trigger, the left prefrontal lobe seems to be part of the brain's switch on emotions that are disconcerting. The amygdala suggests, and the prefrontal lobe disposes. Prefrontal-limbic connections play a crucial role in mental life that goes far beyond fine-tuning emotions; they are necessary to guide us in making the decisions that matter most in life.
Coordination of emotion and thinking
The connections between the amygdala (and the corresponding limbic structures) and the neocortex are the center of battles or the basis of contracts of cooperation between the head and the heart, that is, between thought and feeling. This pattern explains why emotions are so destructive to productive thinking.
Take, for example, the ability of emotions to disrupt the very process of thinking. Neurologists coined the term "memory" to refer to the capacity (volume) of attention, which can hold the data needed to complete tasks or solve pressing problems (for example, the ideal architecture of the house who is looking for someone traveling about the different avenues of the big city, or elements of tasks for logical thinking in the exam). The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for RAM. However, the presence of circuits running from the limbic system to the prefrontal lobes means that signals of strong emotion – anxiety, anger, etc. – can create neural interference, depriving the prefrontal lobe of the ability to maintain RAM. That is why, when we lose our mental balance, we say that "we can't collect our thoughts." For the same reason, constant emotional discomfort usually leads to a weakening of children's mental abilities, reducing their learning ability.
Such mental disorders, if they are also not too serious, are not always detected during the test for determining the coefficient of mental development. Usually, they are easily detected in the process of targeted neuropsychological measurements, or they are manifested by the constant excitement and impulsivity of the child. This was confirmed by the results of a study conducted in one of the primary schools using neuropsychological tests: boys who, having an above-average IQ, nevertheless studied poorly, were found to have a violation of the functioning of the frontal cortex. They were also impulsive and restless, often seeking destruction and getting into trouble. It made me think about the wrong prefrontal control over limbic impulses. Despite their mental potential, these boys were at risk of encountering problems of academic failure, alcoholism, and crime along the way, and not because of mental disability: they had a lack of control over their emotional life. The emotional brain holds back anger just as well as empathy. Emotional chains are formed by experiences in childhood, and we at our own risk completely leave the experience to chance.
Let's look at the role of emotions in even the most "rational" decision-making process. Dr. Antonio Damasio, a neurologist at the University of Iowa school of medicine, undertook a study that led to far-reaching conclusions in terms of understanding mental life. He studied the question of what exactly worsens in patients with a damaged line of communication between the prefrontal area and the amygdala. Their decision – making process turned out to be terribly "distorted" - but no decrease in the coefficient of mental development or cognitive ability is detected. Despite their unaffected minds, people make disastrous choices in both their business and personal lives, and may even experience endless agony over the simple decision of when to make a date.
Dr. Damasio claims that they make bad decisions because they don't have access to their emotional knowledge. As a place where thoughts and emotions converge, the line of communication between the prefrontal area and the amygdala is important – it is a path to the repository of likes and dislikes that we have acquired over the course of life. Cut off from the emotional memory concentrated in the amygdala, the neocortex, no matter what it thinks, can no longer trigger emotional responses. Everything becomes bleakly neutral. A stimulus, whether it is a favorite pet or a hateful acquaintance (a hateful acquaintance), no longer causes either attraction or disgust. Such patients have "forgotten" all emotional lessons because they no longer have access to the amygdala where they are stored.
Such data led Dr. Damasio to the counterintuitive position that feelings are necessary for making rational decisions, they point us in the right direction, and then dispassionate logic can be used in the best possible way. At a time when the world often presents us with a huge variety of options ("How to invest your retirement savings? Who should you marry? Who should I marry?"), the emotional science that life has taught us (for example, the memory of a disastrous investment or painful divorce), sends signals that simplify the decision: from the very beginning, some options are excluded and others are highlighted. Thus, Dr. Damasio argues that the emotional brain is involved in logical thinking in the same way as the thinking brain.
Therefore, emotions are important for normal thinking. In the dance of feeling and thought, the emotional faculty controls our immediate decisions and, working together with the rational mind, turns on – or off – thinking itself. Similarly, the thinking brain acts as the controller of our emotions, except when emotions get out of control and the emotional brain goes berserk.
In a sense, we have two brains, two minds, two different thinking abilities: the rational one, which is sent from the mind, and the emotional one. How well we succeed in life is determined by both. The value in this case is not only the coefficient of mental development, but also the emotional ability to think. In fact, the intellect cannot always be at its best without emotional intelligence. Usually, the complement principle applied to the limbic system and neocortex, as well as the amygdala and prefrontal lobes, means that everyone is a full partner in the mental life. Successful interaction increases the emotional ability to think, as well as the mental ability to think.
This view of the problem completely reverses the previous understanding of the conflict between reason and feeling: we do not need to get rid of emotions and put reason in their place, as Erasmus said, 12 we would rather try to find a reasonable balance between them. In the previous paradigm, the mind is ideally free from emotional harassment. The new paradigm encourages us to establish harmony between the head and the heart. To successfully implement this system in our lives, we must first understand what it means to use emotions wisely.
Part 2. The nature of emotional intelligence
Chapter 3. When a smart person becomes stupid
There is still debate about why a high school physics teacher, David Pologruto, was stabbed with a kitchen knife by one of his best students. The well-known facts are as follows.
Jason G., a smug round-a-grade high school student in coral springs, Florida, was fixated on the idea of going to medical school, but not just any University... he dreamed of Harvard. Pologruto, the physics teacher, gave Jason 80 points during a class quiz. Deciding that such a mark – just a B (i.e., a b) – puts his dream in jeopardy, Jason took a butcher's knife to school the next day and, after arguing with Pologruto in the physics lab, stabbed the teacher under the collarbone before they could pull him away.
The judge found Jason not guilty because he was insane at the time of the incident. Four psychologists and psychiatrists who were part of the Commission claimed that during the conflict, he had a psychotic attack. Jason himself stated that he intended to kill himself because of the mark for the test work and went to Pologruto to tell him about it. Pologruto stated his point: "I think he tried to kill me because he was just mad when he found out that he got a bad grade."
After transferring to a private school, Jason graduated as the first student in his class two years later. An excellent level of training in regular courses would have given him an excellent grade in all subjects – an average of 4.0, but Jason took advanced courses, which were enough to raise his average score to 4.614, much higher than the "excellent plus"grade. Even when Jason graduated with top grades, his old physics teacher, David Pologruto, complained that Jason never apologized or was held responsible for the attack.
The question is, how could an obviously intelligent person commit such a reckless, utterly senseless act? The answer is that the academic mind has absolutely nothing to do with emotional life. The ablest of us can be firmly stranded by unbridled passions and violent impulses. People with high IQs turn out to be staggeringly poor pilots of their private lives.
One of the revealed secrets of psychology is the relative inability to accurately predict who will succeed in life. Neither the scores, nor the IQ scores, nor the scores obtained during academic aptitude tests are valid, despite the hypnotic effect of all these indicators on people. There is, of course, some connection between the mental development rate and the way life works for large groups in General: many people with very low coefficients stop at the level of servants, and those with high coefficients tend to take high – paying positions-but in no case can we say that this is always the case.
There are also widespread exceptions to the rule that IQ determines success. There are far more exceptions than confirmations. At best, the coefficient's share in the factors that determine success in life is 20 percent, while the remaining 80 percent is accounted for by other forces. As one reviewer noted, "in the vast majority of cases, the final place a person occupies in society is determined by factors unrelated to IQ, from class to luck."
Even Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, in whose book The Bell Curve ("the Gaussian curve") the primary importance is given to the coefficient of mental development, recognize this when they write: "Perhaps a first-year student who scored 500 points in math on an academic aptitude test should not dream of becoming a mathematician, and if they want to run their own business, become a U.S. Senator, or earn a million dollars, they should not forget their dreams… The relationship between exam scores and achievement is obscured by the totality of other characteristics, which a person brings to life."
I am interested in the defining set of these "other characteristics", that is, emotional intelligence: the ability to develop motivation for yourself and persist in achieving goals, despite failures, to restrain impulses and delay getting satisfaction, to control your moods and not let suffering deprive you of the opportunity to think, empathize and hope. Emotional intelligence is a new concept, in contrast to the coefficient of mental development, which has been determined in hundreds of thousands of people for almost a century. So far, no one can say exactly how much emotional intelligence varies in different people over the course of their lives. But, as the data shows, it can be as powerful a criterion as the IQ, and sometimes even exceed it. There are researchers who claim that neither experience nor education can significantly change the coefficient of mental development. However, in part 5, I'm going to prove that even children can be taught to use emotions to their advantage if they want to.
12. this refers to Erasmus of Rotterdam, the greatest scholar of the Northern Renaissance. Ed.
Emotional intelligence and destiny
I think of a guy in my class at Amherst College who got five perfect scores of 800 on the academic aptitude test and other student achievement tests13 that he took before going to College. He spent most of his time hanging out, coming home late and skipping classes, waking up before noon. Despite his enormous mental abilities, it took him almost ten years to finally get a degree.
The IQ alone doesn't explain why people with roughly equal backgrounds, education, and capabilities have completely different fates. If you follow the lives of ninety-five Harvard students from the 1940s – a time when the oldest universities in New England had students with a more impressive range of IQ scores than they do today – you can't help but notice that by middle age, the men who scored the highest on their exams were less successful in their chosen fields in terms of salary, performance, or prestige than their less successful peers. They were also not satisfied with their lives and did not find happiness either in socializing with friends and families, or in romantic relationships.
Similarly, another study was conducted in which 450 middle-aged men participated. Most of them came from immigrant families, two-thirds of whom were living on benefits. They were all born and raised in Somerville during the "depression-era slums," a few blocks from Harvard. The IQ of a third of the group did not rise above 9014. But here, too, it had virtually no impact on their careers or other areas of life. For example, 7 percent of men with an IQ below 80 could not get a job for ten years or more, but the same fate was expected for men with an IQ above 100. Undoubtedly, there was a General correlation (as always happens) between the coefficient of mental development and the socio-economic level of people by the age of forty-seven. But the abilities acquired in childhood, such as experiencing frustration, controlling emotions, and getting along with other people, were more significant.
What, for example, can tell the data of a study with the participation of 81 best high school students graduated in 1981 in Illinois. Of course, everyone had the highest grade point average in school, which is exactly what should distinguish graduates who give a speech at the beginning and end of the school year15. And although they did well in all subjects and got excellent grades during their studies, by the time they were thirty, their success was, to put it mildly, average. Ten years after graduating from high school, only one out of four people ranked high among their peers in their chosen profession. The rest, having spent a lot of effort, achieved much less success.
Karen Arnold, a Professor at Boston University who participated in the study of the biography of honors students, notes: "I think we have identified people who are "full of the sense of duty", that is, those who know how to succeed in the system. However, be sure that excellent graduates make their way in life as well as others. The fact that a person graduated with honors from school only indicates that, according to the estimates, he did well in all subjects. But it doesn't say anything about how he will cope with the vicissitudes of life."
This is where the problem lies: the academic mind, in fact, does not assume a readiness for chaos or for the scattering of opportunities that are presented by the vicissitudes of fate. However, while a high IQ does not guarantee success, prestige, or happiness in life, our educational institutions and culture are literally fixated on academic ability. It ignores emotional intelligence, a set of traits – some might call it character-that is of great importance to our personal destiny. Emotional life is an area that can be handled more or less skillfully, just like the ability to count or read, but all other things being equal, it needs a special set of competencies, that is, the functions it performs. And how well a person is versed in this is crucial to understanding why one succeeds in life and the other – intellectually equal – finds himself at a dead end. Emotional giftedness is a meta – ability that determines how well we are able to use any other skills and abilities that we have, including "untrained" intelligence.
Of course, there are many ways to achieve success in life and many areas in which other inclinations are rewarded. In our society, which is based on ever-increasing knowledge, technical skill is undoubtedly one of them. There is such a childish joke: "Who are you going to call a blockhead in fifteen years?» Answer: «Boss's». But even among "dummies", emotional intelligence provides an additional advantage in the workplace, as we'll see in part 3. There is a lot of evidence that people who are experts in emotions – those who are good at managing their own feelings and also decipher other people's feelings and use them successfully – have the upper hand in any area of life, whether it is romantic and intimate relationships or grasping on the fly the unspoken rules that determine success in organizational politics. It is even more likely that people with a well-developed emotional gift will be satisfied with life and successful, because they will subdue the tendencies of the mind that contribute to increasing productivity. People who can't establish even relative control over their emotional lives are forced to fight internal battles that undermine their ability to focus and think clearly.
Another type of thinking ability
To a casual observer, four-year-old Judy might have seemed like a shy child, keeping to herself among more sociable peers. She shied away from noisy scurrying and running, and during such games stood at the edge of the Playground instead of diving into the midst of the children playing. But in reality, Judy was a keen observer of the social politics that prevailed in her kindergarten classroom, being perhaps the most astute of her companions and brilliantly understanding the turbulent sea of their feelings.
Her insight was not noticed until one day, when Judy's teacher gathered four-year-olds around her to play "school", which, in fact, was a test of social sensitivity. Everything that was needed for the game was already prepared: a Dollhouse – an exact copy of the kindergarten room where Judy herself went, and figures on Velcro, which had small photos of students and teachers attached to the place of the head. First, the teacher told Judy to put all the girls and boys in the parts of the room where they liked to play the most – in the art corner, in the corner with cubes, and so on.Judy completed the task very accurately. When she was asked to place the girls and boys next to the children with whom they played more willingly than with others, it turned out that Judy was excellent at making best friends out of the students in her class.
The accuracy with which Judy completed the task assigned to her proves that she has developed a complete social portrait of her group. This shows an exceptionally high level of sensitivity for a four-year-old girl. Such a talent, perhaps, in later life will help Judy become a "star" in one of the areas where the "gift of understanding people" is valued: from trade and management to diplomacy.
The fact that brilliant social abilities, Judy actually saw, so early, is because she went to the senior group of a kindergarten Eliot Pearson, who was on the site of tufts University, where just at that time, there has been a project spectrum – curriculum dedicated development different types of thinking ability. When creating the spectrum project, the developers proceeded from the premise that the repertoire of human abilities goes beyond the "three whales" (reading, writing, arithmetic), that is, a narrow range of skills and abilities to handle words and numbers. But they are the only ones that all schools traditionally focus on. It was also recognized that a person's special abilities, such as Judy's social sensitivity, are among the talents that the educational system must improve, but not ignore or even suppress. By encouraging children to develop a full range of talents, the school begins to teach the art of life: after all, they will be able to succeed more in life or achieve a goal in their chosen profession.
The mastermind behind the spectrum project is Howard Gardner, a psychologist in the Department of education at Harvard University. "The time has come," he once remarked to me, " to expand our understanding of the talent spectrum. A separate, extremely important contribution that the education system can make to the development of a child is to direct him to the area where his talents will bring him the greatest benefit, where he will be able to become an authoritative specialist and get satisfaction from work. We completely lost sight of this and taught everyone that to succeed in life means to be as suitable as possible for the role of a College teacher. And we always evaluate everyone, estimating whether they meet this narrow criterion of success or not. We should spend less time categorizing children and more time helping them recognize their natural abilities and talents and then develop them as much as possible. There are hundreds of ways to succeed in life and many different abilities that will bring good luck."
If anyone understands the limitations of previous ideas about mental capacity, it's Gardner. He emphasizes that the beginning of the glorious era of tests for determining the coefficient of mental development occurred during the First world war. Then two million American men were sorted using the first mass test, just developed by Lewis Terman, a psychologist at Stanford University, to determine the coefficient (the test then still existed in paper and pencil form). This was followed by decades that Gardner called the period of "thinking by the category of mental development coefficient»: allegedly, "people are either smart or not, they are born that way, there is almost nothing you can do about it, and tests will tell you whether you belong to the smart or not. The academic aptitude test for University admission is based on the same idea of a single special ability that will determine your future. This way of thinking is spreading in society."
Gardner's most impressive Book, mindset, was published in 1983. It became a Manifesto that proved the failure of assessment using the IQ. It suggested that what is crucial to success in life is not a single monolithic mind, but rather a wide range of mental abilities with seven key varieties. The list includes two standard academic types (verbal and logical-mathematical acumen), followed by spatial thinking ability (observed, for example, in an outstanding artist or architect); kinesthetic gift16 (manifested in the smooth movement of the body and grace of Martha Gram17 or magic Johnson 18) and musical talent of some Mozart or yo yo Ma19. Complete list of two, in the terminology of Gardner, personal mental ability: the talent of interpersonal communication (like the talent of a great therapist such as Carl Роджерса20, or a global leader, such as Martin Luther king Jr.) and "vnutripsihicheskoy" ability (such could be shown, on the one hand, in the brilliant insights of Sigmund Freud, or – on a more modest level as the inner satisfaction of an ordinary man that when he gave his life in a state of harmony with their true feelings).
The key word in the concept of mental abilities is the word multiple: Gardner's model goes far beyond the standard concept of the coefficient of mental development as a single and unchangeable factor. She admits that the tests we were bullied with at school are based on a limited view of intelligence. All tests, without exception, from achievement tests, which sorted us into those who were transferred to technical schools, 21 and those who were destined to go to College, 22 to academic aptitude tests, which determined which College, if any, we would be allowed to attend. So, testing has nothing to do with a set of real skills and abilities that are important for life and are not taken into account by the coefficient of mental development.
Gardner admits that seven is a random indicator of the diversity of mental abilities; for there is no number of numerous human talents. At one point, Gardner and his colleagues extended the list from seven to twenty different types of mental abilities. For example, the mental capacity for interpersonal communication was divided into four different abilities: leadership, the ability to develop relationships and keep friends, the ability to resolve conflicts, and talent in the field of social analysis in which four-year-old Judy excelled.
Such a multi-faceted view of the ability to think gives a more complete picture of the child's talents and abilities to achieve success than the standard coefficient of mental development. When students who participated in the spectrum project were evaluated first on the Stanford – ByNet intelligence scale (once considered the gold standard in all tests for determining IQ), and then on a combination of several criteria specifically designed to determine the Gardner spectrum of mental abilities, no significant relationship was found between the children's scores on these two tests. For five children with the highest coefficient of intellectual development (from 125 to 133), graphs of personal characteristics were constructed based on ten ability criteria measured during the spectrum test, which significantly differed from each other. For example, out of the five "smartest" children (according to the IQ tests), one – according to the spectrum test – was strong in three areas, three showed ability in two, and another child had a single talent. And the ability criteria themselves showed a significant variation: four indicators of the talents of these children fell on music, two on visual arts, one on understanding the characteristics of society, one on logic and two on language. None of the five children with a high IQ were strong in plastic (in the sense of a set of body movements), mathematics or mechanics, and plastic and handling numbers were obviously weak points for two of these five.
At the end of the tests, Gardner concluded that "the Stanford – ByNet intelligence scale does not predict success in all activities or the corresponding subset of activities provided by the spectrum test program." But the scores obtained from the spectrum test will provide parents and teachers with a clear guide to the areas of activity in which these children may show a spontaneous interest and where they will succeed, developing their aptitudes that may one day lead them from skill to mastery.
Without stopping there, Gardner continued to reflect on the multiplicity of mental abilities. About ten years after the first publication of his theory Gardner gave a brief definition of personal mental abilities:
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people: what drives them, how they work, how to work in collaboration with them. Successful businessmen, politicians, teachers, consulting practitioners, and religious leaders tend to be individuals with high levels of interpersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence... is an inward – looking correlative ability; the ability to create an accurate, relevant model of oneself and use this model to realize oneself in life.
Gardner later observed that interpersonal intelligence is based on "the ability to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, temperaments, motivations, and actions of others." In the concept of intrapersonal intelligence, which can be called the key to self-knowledge, he included "access to one's own feelings, as well as the ability to distinguish between them and rely on them to control behavior."
Spock vs. Lata: when cognitive ability isn't enough
In Gardner's developments, there is one aspect of personal intelligence that many refer to, but which is little explored – namely, the role of emotions. This may be due to the fact that in his work Gardner firmly adheres to the proposed cognitive model of the mind.23 Thus, in his view of mental abilities, special importance is attached to cognition –understanding oneself and others in terms of motives, actions, and using intuition to build a life and maintain good relationships with other people. But the realm of emotion transcends the possibilities of language and cognition – as does the kinesthetic realm, in which the body's brilliant powers of movement are displayed nonverbally.
Although Gardner's descriptions of personal mental abilities focus enough on how to get into the game of emotions and learn how to deal with them, the scientist and his team did not look at the role of feeling in detail, focusing more on knowledge about feeling. Because of the focus on this subject, probably unintentional, a whole ocean of emotions remains unexplored. It is what makes inner life and relationships so complex, exciting, and often disconcerting. So it remains to be seen in what sense there is intelligence in emotions, and in what sense intelligence can be reduced to emotions.
Gardner puts too much emphasis on the cognitive abilities of the individual. This was the Zeitgeist that shaped his views. The excessive importance that psychology attaches to knowledge, even in the realm of emotions, is partly due to an unexpected turn in the history of science. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, academic psychology was dominated by behaviorists such as B. F. Skinner, 25 who believed that only behavior can be objectively observed from the outside and only behavioral manifestations can be studied with scientific accuracy. Behavior is a reflection of an inner life (including emotions) that is closed to science.
Then, with the advent of the "cognitive revolution" in the late 1960s, the focus of psychology shifted to how the mind registers and stores information, and to the nature of the ability to think. But emotions were still out of line. Cognitive scientists held the traditional view that the ability to think implies a cold, highly practical processing of facts. It is Hyper-rational and more like Mr. Spock from Star trek 26, an archetype of dry information bytes, not clouded by feelings, embodying the idea that emotions have no place in intellectual life, they only make a mess of our mental picture.
Cognitive scientists who adopted this concept were led astray by the computer as an operational model of the mind. They completely forgot that in reality, the "wet" technical support of the brain is immersed in a pulsing mass of neurochemicals like a "chatterbox" and has nothing to do with the properly refined silicone that served as the prototype of the mind. The cognitive models of how the mind processes information lacked the recognition that rationality is guided by feeling, which can flood it. In this respect, the cognitive model is an impoverished image of the mind, and it is not able to explain the rapid influx of feelings that gives the "zest" to intelligence. To defend this view, cognitive scientists themselves had to predict the significance of their personal hopes and fears, marital quarrels, and professional jealousies – those waves of feelings that give life a special taste and aroma, bring a certain impetuosity to it, and at each moment determine exactly how (and how well or poorly) the information processing process will go.
Scientists ' one-sided view of a mental life devoid of emotions, which has served as the starting point for intelligence research for the past eighty years, is gradually changing. Psychology is beginning to realize how essential the role of feeling in thinking is. Much like Spock's character date in Star trek: The next generation, psychology comes to correctly assess the power and positive impact of emotions in the realm of mental life. Of course, and the dangers associated with them, too. In the end, date realizes (to his horror, if, of course, he is capable of being horrified): his dry logic does not help him make the right human decision. Our humanity is most evident in our feelings. The date tries to experience feelings, knowing that otherwise it is missing something very important. He longs for friendship and loyalty; but, like the Tin Woodman in the wonderful Wizard of Oz, 27 he has no heart. Without the ability to get into the lyrical mood that feelings bring, a date can technically masterfully play music or write poetry, but does not feel their passion at all. The desire of a Person to feel for the sake of feeling itself shows that the highest values of the human soul – faith, hope, loyalty, love – are completely absent in a cold cognitive attitude. Emotions enrich, and without them the mind becomes insipid.
When I pointed out to Gardner that he attached much more importance to thoughts about feelings, or metacognition, than to emotions themselves, he admitted that he was inclined to view intelligence from a cognitive perspective. However, he added: "When I first started writing about personal intelligence, I was referring to emotions, especially in relation to my idea of intrapersonal intelligence as a component that is emotionally attuned to yourself. The intuitive signals you receive are essential for interpersonal intelligence. But in the meantime, the theory of multiple intelligences has evolved to focus more on metacognition – awareness of a person's mental processes-than on the full range of emotional abilities."
Gardner understands how important emotional abilities and the gift of maintaining relationships are in the current hectic life. He also points out that "many people with an IQ of 160 work for those who have a coefficient of less than 100, if the former have low interpersonal intelligence, and the latter have high. In the daily life of society, there is no higher intelligence than interpersonal. And if you don't have it, you won't be able to make the right choice and decide who to marry or whom to marry, what task to take on, and so on. This means that we just need to teach children to use their personal mental abilities at school."
13. Checking the level of training in any field. Ed.
14. keep in mind that different tests involve Different rating scales. Ed.
15. The valedictorian is a common practice in American schools. A student is selected who prepares a touching thank-you speech and reads it in front of the entire school on a special day. Ed.
16. Kinesthesia – sensations from their own movements and the relative position of their body parts; kinesthetic sensations – sensations that occur in the skin, muscles, tendons, joints as a result of movements.
17. Martha Graham (1894-1991) – American dancer, Creator of American modern dance. Ed.
18. Irwin Effey "magic" Johnson,Jr. – American basketball player, played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Ed.
19. yo-yo MA is an American cellist of Chinese descent. Ed.
20. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) – American psychologist, one of the leaders of "humanistic psychology", the founder of the so-called non-directed, or "client-centered" psychotherapy. Rogers ' idea is that a doctor who comes into deep personal contact with a patient sees him not as a patient, but as a "client" who takes responsibility for solving his own problems by activating the creative principle of his "I". Ed.
21. An analog of a vocational technical school, in modern Russian terminology – a College (the American "College" is identical to the Russian "University"). Ed.
22. See above.
23. Cognitive science – the science of thinking.
24. Behaviorism is a trend in psychology; behaviorism completely rejects the method of self – observation and evaluation of such and takes into account only those facts of animal and human behavior that can be accurately established and described, without considering it necessary to "understand" the internal mental processes hidden behind them. Therefore, the method of behaviorism is based on the study of irritation and response.
25. Skinner, Berres Frederick (1904) – American psychologist, representative of modern behaviorism.
26. "Star trek", or "Star trek" – space Saga, TV series. Ed.
27. Children's book by the American writer Lyman Frank Baum. Ed.
Can emotions be reasonable?
To better understand what learning should be, we will have to seek the help of other theorists who have accepted Gardner's concept of intelligence. One of them is Yale psychologist Peter Salovey, who drew up a detailed diagram of the ways and means that help us bring intelligence to emotions. Although, in truth, there is nothing new in his quest: for many years, the most zealous theorists of the coefficient of mental development have repeatedly tried to place emotions in the domain of the intellect, without taking into account the logical inconsistency inherent in this approach. This was the reasoning of E. L. Thorndike, a famous psychologist who devoted a lot of time to popularizing the idea of the mental development coefficient in the 1920s and 1930s. In an article published in Harper's Magazine, he opined that one aspect of emotional intelligence, namely "social" intelligence – that is, the ability to understand others and "behave wisely in human relationships" - is itself an indicator of an individual's mental development. Other psychologists of the time were even more cynical about social intelligence. They saw it as the ability to manipulate other people into doing what you need them to do, whether they want to or not. But none of the formulations of social intelligence had any noticeable effect on the theorists of the coefficient of mental development. As a result, an authoritative manual of mental development tests published in 1960 declared the concept of social intelligence "worthless."
However, personal intelligence is clearly not worth ignoring. Mainly because it is made up of intuition and common sense. For example, when Robert Sternberg, another psychologist at Yale University, asked participants to describe a "smart person", they listed among the main characteristics of such a person the skills and abilities that practical people possess. After completing a more systematic study, Sternberg came to the same conclusion as Thorndyke: social intelligence is, first, different from academic ability, and, second, is a major component of what makes people successful in life. Among the characteristics of practical intelligence that are so highly valued at work, for example, is the receptivity that allows successful managers to capture information that is not expressed in words.
In recent years, more and more psychologists have agreed with Gardner's view that the old concepts of IQ were centered on a narrow range of linguistic and mathematical abilities. A high score on IQ tests directly predicted success in school or in teaching, but it was less and less to be relied on as life's paths moved away from the academic path. These psychologists, including Sternberg and Salovi, expanded the concept of intelligence by trying to re – evaluate it. What exactly it takes to succeed in life is the main question. And the search for an answer leads back to understanding how important "personal" or emotional intelligence is.
Seilowy included Gardner's personal intelligence in his main definition of emotional intelligence, expanding the list to five main areas.
Know your emotions. Self – awareness- recognizing a feeling when it occurs – is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. As we will see in Chapter 4, the ability to track feelings from time to time is crucial for psychological insight and self-understanding. The inability to notice our true feelings leaves us at their mercy. People who are more confident in their feelings turn out to be the best pilots of their lives: they are less hesitant about making personal decisions, starting with who to marry or whom to marry, and ending with what business to take on.
Manage your emotions. The ability to cope with feelings so that they do not go beyond the appropriate limits is an ability that is based on self – awareness. In Chapter 5, we will look at the ability to calm yourself, get rid of unrestrained anxiety, depression, or irritability – and the consequences of failure to master the basic art of coping with emotions. People who lack this ability constantly struggle with excruciating anxiety. And people who have it, are able to return to normal much faster after life's failures and upsets.
Motivate yourself. As will be shown in Chapter 6, putting your emotions in order to achieve a goal is necessary for concentration, for self-motivation and self-control, and for gaining the ability to create. Controlling your emotions – delaying gratification and suppressing impulsivity – is at the heart of all achievements. The ability to bring yourself into a state of "inspiration" ensures the achievement of outstanding quality of any actions. People who master this art tend to be more productive and successful in everything they do.
Recognize other people's emotions. Empathy, another ability that relies on emotional self-awareness, is a basic "human gift". Chapter 7 explores the "roots" of empathy, the social costs of emotional deafness, and the reasons why empathy encourages altruism. People who can empathize are more attuned to subtle social signals that indicate what others want or need. This makes them more suitable for professions or occupations related to caring for others, such as teaching, trading, and management.
To maintain the relationship. The art of maintaining relationships is mostly about managing other people's emotions. Chapter 8 focuses on social competence and incompetence and the specific skills and abilities associated with them, that is, the abilities that strengthen popularity, leadership, and effectiveness of interpersonal communication. People with such talents are great at things where success depends on skillful interaction with others; they are simply geniuses of communication.
Of course, in each of these areas, people discover different abilities. Some of us may be quite good at coping with anxiety, but we are not very good at moderating the other person's frustrations. The level of our abilities is no doubt determined by the nervous system, but as we will see later, the brain is surprisingly flexible and constantly learning. Omissions in the emotional field can be corrected: each of them is largely a collection of habits and responses that – with the right effort – can be changed for the better.
IQ and emotional intelligence: pure types
Mental development quotient and emotional intelligence are not in opposition, but rather separate competencies. We all combine intelligence with acuteness of experience. People with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence (or low IQ and high emotional intelligence) are quite rare, despite the prevailing stereotypes. Indeed, there is a correlation between IQ and some aspects of emotional intelligence, although it is insignificant. Clearly, these are highly independent concepts.
Tests for determining the coefficient of mental development have become familiar. There is not yet, and probably never will be, a single written test that allows you to deduce an "emotional intelligence score". Although each of its components is sufficiently investigated, and some of them, such as empathy, are best detected by selective monitoring of the actual ability of a person during a specific task. You can get results by recognizing the nature of a person's feelings from a video recording of the corresponding facial expressions. Jack Block, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, uses a criterion very similar to emotional intelligence (it includes the main social and emotional competencies) to determine, in his terminology, "ego elasticity". Block compared two theoretically pure types: people with a high coefficient of mental development and people with pronounced emotional abilities. The differences are impressive.
The pure type of person with a high IQ (that is, without taking into account emotional intelligence) is almost a parody: an intellectual who is perfectly oriented in the realm of reason, but completely unsuited to ordinary life. Graphs of personal characteristics of men and women differ slightly. A typical male representative with a high coefficient of mental development is distinguished (which, however, is not surprising) by a wide range of intellectual needs and abilities. He is ambitious and productive, predictable and persistent, and not burdened with self-care. He is also prone to criticism, behaves patronizingly, is demanding and reserved, feels awkward from manifestations of sexuality and sensual experiences, is outwardly expressionless, keeps to himself, and is emotionally balanced.
People with high emotional intelligence are socially balanced, friendly, and always in a good mood, not prone to fear and not prone to anxious thoughts. They are mandatory in relation to people and started cases, willingly take responsibility and adhere to ethical principles. In dealing with others, they are friendly and caring. Their emotional life is eventful, but within the proper limits. They are in harmony with themselves, with others, and with the society in which they live.
Women with a high IQ are naturally confident in their intelligence. They Express their thoughts freely, are well versed in intellectual problems, and have a wide range of intellectual and aesthetic needs. They clearly show a desire for introspection, they often fall into anxiety, are tormented by guilt, are prone to long thoughts, and usually do not dare to openly Express their anger (but Express irritation indirectly).
Women with emotional intelligence, on the contrary, are overly assertive, Frank in expressing their feelings and always happy with themselves. Life is full of meaning for them. Like men, they are friendly and sociable and Express their feelings appropriately (and not in violent outbursts that they later regret), and they also manage stress well. The ability to keep in society allows them to easily get along with new people; they are happy with themselves, and therefore playfully cheerful, direct and easily susceptible to sensual experiences. Unlike women with a high IQ, they do not suffer from anxiety and guilt, and do not tend to fall into deep thought.
The portraits drawn above, of course, reflect the extremes. In fact, we all have a certain degree of mental development and emotional intelligence, but they are only "mixed" in different proportions. By the way, the benefits of such portraits are obvious: they provide valuable information about what each aspect adds to a person's qualities. Depending on the extent to which a person is endowed with both cognitive and emotional intelligence, these portraits correspondingly converge. Although, it should be noted, of the two factors, emotional intelligence brings much more qualities that make us more human.
Chapter 4. Know yourself
An old Japanese fairy tale tells how a warlike samurai once demanded of a Zen teacher: "Explain to me what heaven and hell are!» But the monk replied contemptuously: "You are only a boor, I can't waste My time on people like you!" the samurai,
feeling that his honor was hurt, became enraged and, drawing his sword from its scabbard, shouted:
"This is hell," said the monk calmly.
Amazed at the precise definition of his rage, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed to thank the monk for his science.
"This is Paradise," said the monk.
The samurai suddenly realized his excitement. This is the fundamental difference between being at the mercy of an emotion and knowing that it leads somewhere wrong. The Socratic injunction "Know thyself" implies nothing more than the cornerstone of emotional intelligence: one should be aware of one's own feelings when they arise.
At first glance, it may seem as if our feelings are obvious. However, on reflection, we remember how often we did not notice our attitude to this or that circumstance. Sometimes we remembered our feelings much later.
Psychologists use the heavy-handed term "metacognition" (or "metacognition") to refer to awareness of the thinking process. About "metanarrative" they say that when a person is aware of their own emotions. I prefer the term "self – awareness" - constant attention to your inner States. In this case, the mind observes the experience, analyzes the person's mental state (including emotions), and studies it.
This property is akin to what Freud described as "evenly floating attention", recommending that everyone who is going to engage in psychoanalysis acquire it. This kind of attention dispassionately takes into account everything that passes through awareness, as if an interested but for the time being unresponsive witness. Some psychoanalysts refer to it as the "observing ego", a self – knowledge ability that allows the psychoanalyst to monitor their own reactions to what the patient says and how the process of free Association occurs in the patient.
Self-awareness is probably impossible without arousing the neocortex, especially the speech zones that are tuned to recognize and identify the emotions that have arisen. Self – awareness is not attention, which, falling under the power of emotions, overreacts and amplifies what is perceived by the senses. This is a neutral mode of operation, in which introspection persists even in the midst of a raging sea of emotions. William styron28 seems to have been referring to something like this ability of the mind when he described his state of Deep depression. Styron wondered what it meant to be "accompanied by a second Self, a ghostly observer who, without sharing the insanity of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion fights."
Cold – blooded awareness of violent or violent feelings is the maximum that self-observation gives. At a minimum, it manifests itself in the ability to detach from the experience, creating a parallel stream of consciousness, or "metapotok" – like "floating" above the main current or next to it, giving an understanding of what is happening, not allowing you to sink and drown. There is an obvious difference, for example, between the States when one person is just terribly angry with another, and when the same person, having retained the ability to introspect, thinks: "But I'm mad" (even if it's a fit of anger). In terms of neural mechanisms of awareness, this slight shift in mental activity seems to indicate that neocortical circuits are actively monitoring emotions. This is the first step to establishing some control. The ability to understand your emotions is a fundamental emotional competence – the ability on the basis of which all others are formed, for example, emotional self-control.
Self-awareness, then, is "awareness of both your mood and thoughts about your mood," as John Mayer, a psychologist at the University of new Hampshire, put it. Mayer, along with Yale University Professor Peter Salovey, developed a theory of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness can be non-reactive, not giving any assessment of tracking internal States. However, Mayer found that this kind of perception is not so "cold-blooded": the usual set of thoughts that indicate that self-consciousness is included, and contains such: "I shouldn't have given in to feeling," "I think good things to comfort and cheer up," and – with a more limited self – awareness-a fleeting thought: "Don't think about it" as a reaction to something extremely unpleasant or upsetting.
There is a logical difference between being aware of feelings and acting to change them. Mayer believes that in achieving all practical goals, both awareness and action are usually closely linked: to realize a bad mood is to want to get rid of it. However, awareness is not an effort that we make to refrain from acting on an emotional impulse. By ordering "Stop now!" to a child who has been driven by anger to hit a playmate, we can stop the beating, but the anger will continue to boil. The child's thoughts will still be focused on the trigger of anger: "But he stole my toy!" – so the anger will not subside. Self-awareness has a more powerful effect on strong hostile feelings. If you think, "But I feel anger," you will have more freedom of choice – not only not to be guided by it in your actions, but also to try to get rid of it.
Mayer believes that people who monitor and manage their emotions tend to adhere to the following characteristic scenarios.
- Those who know themselves. By being aware of their moods when they arise, these people already have some knowledge of their emotional life. Their clear understanding of emotions may strengthen other characteristics of their personality: they are Autonomous 29 and confident in their borders 30, are in good psychological health and tend to have a positive Outlook on life. When they are in a bad mood, they do not think about it or worry about it, but are able to quickly get rid of it. In short, attention helps them deal with their emotions.
- Consumed by emotion. Such people often feel overwhelmed by emotions. They can't resist, as if their moods are driving them, not the other way around. They are changeable, not very aware of their feelings, so they are immersed in them, instead of seeing everything in the true light. As a result, feeling that they have no control over their emotional life, they make little attempt to avoid bad moods. They often feel that they are overwhelmed with emotions, and do not control themselves emotionally
- Accepting emotions as something inevitable. Although these people often have a clear idea of how they feel, they tend to accept their moods as something inevitable and so don't try to change them. There seem to be two types of such "conciliators". They are usually in a good mood and therefore have no desire to change it. Others are subject to bad thoughts that they are fully aware of, but accept them with complete connivance: they do nothing to change them, they suffer their own distress.31 The model is common among, say, despondent people who have come to terms with despair.
Short-tempered and indifferent
Imagine for a second that you are sitting on a plane flying from new York to San Francisco. The flight was quiet, but when approaching the Rocky mountains in the cabin suddenly heard the voice of the pilot: "Ladies and gentlemen, there are some small atmospheric eddies ahead of us, so please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts." Soon the plane enters the vortex zone, and the shaking is much stronger than you have experienced before. The plane is tossed up and down and from side to side like a splinter in a raging sea.
Question: how will you behave? You may be the type of person who, in a similar situation, will turn to a book or magazine or continue to watch the flight through the window, forgetting about all the eddies there. Or you can take the safety instructions out of your pocket and refresh your memory on what to do in case of an emergency. Or maybe you'll be watching the flight attendants closely, trying to catch the slightest signs of panic. Or you'll start listening to the sound of engines running, wondering if there's anything disturbing about it.
What kind of reaction is more natural for us, and shows what we first pay attention to under the pressure of circumstances. The plot of the plane is taken from a psychological test developed by Suzanne Miller, a psychologist at temple University. She set herself the goal of finding out what people are more likely to do: keep a sharp eye on the smallest details of what is happening in an emergency, or, on the contrary, cope with anxious moments, trying to distract themselves. The two attenuating attitudes to distress have very different consequences in terms of how people experience their own emotional responses. Those who succumb to the pressure of circumstances and tune in to them may, by paying too much attention to them, unwittingly increase their reactions, especially if their "tuning" lacks the coolness inherent in self-awareness. As a result, emotions run rampant. Those who are not attuned to what is happening are distracted from it, pay less attention to their own reactions, and thus minimize the experience of an emotional response, and even the scale of the response.
These are extremes – when some people have extremely high awareness of their emotions, while others have almost no awareness. Imagine a University student who, one evening, noticing that a fire had broken out in the Dorm, went to get a fire extinguisher and extinguished the flames. Nothing unusual, except that on the way to get the fire extinguisher and back to the scene of the fire, he walked calmly, instead of rushing headlong. The reason? He just didn't see any urgency in the situation.
This story was told to me by Edward diner, a Psychologist at the University of Illinois at Erban who has studied the power of people to experience their emotions. He collected a whole collection of situations, and in it the least emotional force that diner had ever encountered was distinguished by the same University student: he was, in fact, a completely dispassionate person who showed almost no feelings even in such a critical situation as a fire.
For contrast, let's talk about one woman who fell on the opposite edge of the range indicated by the Diner. Having once lost her favorite pen, she lost her mental balance for many days. On another occasion, the announcement of a huge sale of women's shoes in an expensive store got her so excited that she gave up everything she was doing, jumped in the car, and drove three hours to the Chicago store.
Diner believes that women generally experience both positive and negative emotions more strongly than men. And if we leave aside the differences between the sexes, the emotional life is richer for those people who notice more. Hypersensitivity primarily leads to the fact that the slightest irritation causes emotional storms in such people, sometimes divine, sometimes infernal. Those who are diametrically opposed to them hardly experience anything, even in the most terrible circumstances.
28. William Styron (1925-2006) – American writer, winner of the 1968 Pulitzer prize, author of the novels "confessions of NAT Turner" and "Sophie's choice". Ed.
29. Autonomy – the ability of an individual to make independent responsible decisions independent of external pressure.
30. This refers to the boundaries between regions of psychological space.
31. Negative type of stress with which the body is not able to cope. Ed.
32. Attentive attitudes – related to concentration of attention.
Gary infuriated his fiancee Ellen: as a knowledgeable, thoughtful and successful surgeon, he remained emotionally boring, completely unresponsive to any manifestations of feelings. Gary could talk brilliantly about science and art, but when it came to his feelings – even for Ellen – he was silent. She tried her best to wring a little passion from him, but in vain: Gary remained impassive and did not notice anything. "I never Express my feelings at all," Gary told the therapist he visited at Ellen's insistence. When it came to emotional life, he added: "I Don't know what to talk about; I don't have strong feelings, either positive or negative."
Ellen wasn't the only one who was upset by Gary's indifference; as he confided to his doctor, he wasn't able to talk openly about his feelings with anyone. The reason was that he didn't know what he was feeling. As far as he could tell, he felt no anger, no sadness, no joy.
As his doctor notes, this emotional emptiness makes Gary and others like him colorless and "nothing". "They're boring everyone. That's why their wives send them for treatment." Gary's emotional dullness is an example of what psychiatrists call alexithymia, from the Greek a – prefix for "absence", lexis ("Lexis») – "words, expressions" and thymos("thymos") – "emotions". Such people do not have enough words to Express their feelings. In fact, they seem to have no feelings at all, although in reality they may give this impression because of their inability to Express emotions, and not because of their complete absence. Psychoanalysts first noticed such people because they were confused by the category of patients who could not be treated with their methods. They did not report any feelings, any fantasies, or colorless dreams – in short, they did not talk about any internal emotional life at all. Clinical signs that are characteristic of alexithymics include difficulties in describing feelings, both their own and other people's, and extreme limitations of emotional vocabulary. Moreover, it is difficult for them to distinguish between emotions, as well as between emotion and bodily sensation. They may complain that they are sick, that their heart rate is faster, their head is spinning, and their whole body is sweating – and not know that they are experiencing anxiety.
"They give the impression of alien beings who come from another world, but live in a society where feelings rule," is how Dr. Peter Sifneos, a psychiatrist at Harvard University, who coined the term "alexithymia"in 1972, describes them. Alexithymics, for example, rarely cry, but if they do, tears flow from their eyes in streams. However, they are terribly embarrassed if you ask them what they are crying about. One alexithymia patient watched a film about a mother of eight who died of cancer and was so shocked that she cried herself to sleep. When her doctor suggested that she was upset because the film reminded her of her own mother, who was dying of cancer at the time, the woman seemed petrified and remained sitting in embarrassment, not moving or saying a word. When he asked her how she felt, the woman replied: "Something terrible," but could not articulate anything clearly and added: sometimes she suddenly realizes that she is crying, but she never knows exactly why.
This is the crux of the problem. It's not that alexithymics don't feel anything at all. It's just that they can't fully understand – and especially put into words – what they're feeling. They are completely devoid of the main ability of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, that is, understanding what we feel when emotions are raging inside us. Alexithymics refute the common-sense axiom about the absolute self-evidence of what exactly we feel. The reason is that they do not have, so to speak, the key to understanding feelings. When something, and most often someone, encourages them to feel, they perceive the experience as something discouraging and overwhelming, which must be avoided at all costs. Feelings for them, if at all, come only in the form of an intoxicating bouquet of sorrows and troubles. As the woman who cried in the movie put it, they feel "something terrible," but they can never tell exactly what "terrible" is, even though they feel it at the moment.
This initial confusion with feelings, apparently, often causes alexithymics to complain about unspecified health problems. Meanwhile, in reality, they experience emotional distress – a phenomenon known in psychiatry as somatization (the development of somatic disorders of a psychogenic nature, when pain associated with emotions is mistaken for physical pain. They differ from psychosomatic diseases, in which emotional problems pass into the category of medical ones). Psychiatry sees its main task in removing alexithymics from the ranks of those who come to doctors for help. After all, they tend to pester doctors for a long time and tiresomely, trying to get them to diagnose and prescribe treatment for what really belongs to the category of emotional problems.
Although no one can yet say for sure what causes alexithymia, Dr. sifneos suggested that a break in the chain between the limbic system and the neocortex, in particular, the speech center, is to Blame. This hypothesis is consistent with what we learn about the emotional brain. In a number of patients subject to severe epileptic seizures, this relationship was broken surgically in order to reduce their symptoms. As Sifneos notes, their emotions were dulled, like those of alexithymics, they lost the ability to Express their feelings in words and suddenly lost the imagination that adorns life with its play. In short, although the emotional brain circuits can respond with feelings, the neocortex is not able to sort out these feelings and add language nuances to them. As Henry Roth noted in his novel call It a dream, "if you can put into words what you felt, then it's yours." The result, of course, is an alexithymic dilemma: the lack of words to Express feelings means that you don't relate feelings to yourself.
It's good to feel in your gut
Elliot had a tumor the size of a small orange just below his forehead, which was removed by surgery. Although the operation was considered successful, people who knew him well later claimed that Elliot was no longer Elliot – he had undergone a radical personality change. Once a successful corporate lawyer, Elliot was no longer able to work. His wife left him. Having recklessly spent his savings on fruitless investments, he was forced to live in his brother's house.
There was one thing about Elliot's problem that was disconcerting. Intellectually, he was as brilliant as ever, but he was a terrible Manager of his time, hopelessly bogged down in small details; he seemed to have lost all sense of priorities. The reprimands didn't change anything; he was consistently dismissed from a number of legal positions. Although numerous intelligence tests did not reveal any abnormalities in Elliot's mental abilities, he nevertheless went to a neurologist, hoping that if any neurological problem was detected, he would receive the disability insurance benefits to which he believed he was entitled. Otherwise, he would probably be considered a mere malingerer.
Antonio Damasio, the neurologist who advised Elliot, was struck by the loss of one element from the set of his mental functions: although his logic, memory, attention, as well as all other cognitive abilities remained in order, Elliot actually forgot his emotional reactions to what happened to him. The most striking thing was that Elliot could talk about the tragic events of his life completely dispassionately, as if he were a bystander in relation to past losses and failures – without a note of regret or sadness, frustration or anger about the injustice of life. His tragedy did not cause him any suffering. Damasio felt more upset by Elliot's story than Elliot himself.
The reason for the emotional ignorance, Damasio concluded, was the removal – along with the tumor – of part of the prefrontal lobes of the brain. What actually happened was that surgery severed the connection between the lower centers of the emotional brain, especially the amygdala and its associated circuits, and the center of the neocortex, which is responsible for thinking. Elliot began to think like a computer: he was able to consistently and step by step perform all the steps, calculating a solution, but could not correctly determine the significance of possible options. Each option was perceived as neutral. And this dispassionate way of reasoning logically, in Damasio's opinion, was the essence of Elliot's problem: the inability to understand his own feelings about various things made an error in his reasoning.
The defect was detected even when solving everyday problems. When Damasio tried to arrange with Elliot the date and time of his next visit, Elliot was completely at a loss for words. Elliot was able to find arguments for and against each number and hour suggested by Damasio, but could not make a choice. Going from reason, Elliot had made perfectly valid reasons for refusing or agreeing to almost every possible doctor's appointment, but he had no idea how he felt about any of the agreed-upon appointments. He has lost the ability to understand his own feelings, and he has no preferences left.
Elliot's indecisiveness in this situation shows how important the role of the sense – Navigator is in the endless stream of personal decisions that have to be made throughout life. And while strong feelings can make a mess of the logical thinking process, the lack of understanding of feelings often does great harm. Especially if you have to weigh decisions that largely determine our fate, for example: what kind of activity to choose, stay in the same quiet job or move to another, more dangerous, but also more interesting, who to date, who to marry, where to live, which apartment to rent, which house to buy – one thing, then another... and so on for life. It is impossible to make the right decision based on diet alone: you also need the ability to "feel in your gut" and emotional wisdom accumulated on the basis of past experiences. Formal logic will never help you make the right decision: who to marry, who to trust, and even what kind of work to take on; there are many areas where the mind is blind without feelings.
Intuitive signals that guide us in these moments come in the form of stimulated limbic impulses from the interior. Damasio calls them "somatic markers" (somatic, that is, bodily, a signal sign that is different from the mental one), which literally means "inner feelings". A somatic marker is a kind of automatic alarm signal that draws attention to the potential danger in a given course of events. Such markers, as a rule, do not allow us to choose an option that past experience warns us against. But they can also warn us of an opportunity. We usually don't remember which experience is the source of the negative feeling. All we need is a signal: this possible course of action may be dangerous. And every time the "gut feeling" increases, we immediately interrupt the previous course of reasoning or, conversely, continue it with even more perseverance and thus reduce the set of choices to a matrix of decisions that is more manageable. So, to make the right personal decision, you should tune in to your own feelings.
Penetration into the unconscious
Elliot's emotional emptiness suggests that people may have a wide range of abilities to be aware of their emotions. According to neurological logic, if the absence of any neural circuit leads to a violation of any ability, then the relative strength or weakness of the same circuit in people with healthy brains should lead to comparable levels of competence in the same ability. If we consider the role of prefrontal circuits in emotional mood, it turns out that for neurological reasons, some of us are easier to detect the "swarming" of fear or joy than others, and, consequently, are more aware of their emotions.
Perhaps the talent for psychological introspection is linked to the same pattern. Some of us are naturally attuned to special symbolic modes of the emotional mind: metaphor and comparison, as in poetry, songs, and legends, all translated into the language of the heart. The same applies to dreams and myths, in which free associations determine the course of the narrative, following the logic of the emotional mind. Those who are innately attuned to the voice of the heart – the language of emotion – are certainly more adept at expressing its messages verbally, and they become novelists, songwriters, or psychotherapists. The internal setting makes them more gifted in voicing the "wisdom of the unconscious" – the heartfelt meaning of dreams and fantasies, symbols that represent the most intimate desires.
Self-awareness is absolutely necessary for psychological insight. Most psychotherapy is aimed at strengthening it. Howard Gardner used the works of Sigmund Freud, the great topographer of the hidden driving forces of the psyche, to create a model of the intrapsychic ability to think. As Freud made clear, most of our emotional life is unconscious; the feelings that stir in us do not always cross the threshold of awareness. Empirical confirmation of this psychological axiom is obtained, for example, during experiments with unconscious emotions. They led to a remarkable discovery: it turns out that people form certain likes for things, not knowing that they have seen them before. Any emotion can be – and very often is – unconscious.
The physiological background of emotion usually occurs before the person is aware of the feeling itself. For example, if people who are afraid of snakes are shown a photo of a snake, sensors installed on their skin will register the release of sweat, which serves as a signal of anxiety, although, according to them, they did not feel any fear. Such people sweat even if a photo of a snake flashes before their eyes very quickly and they do not have time to fully realize what exactly they were shown. Not to mention the fact that they then started to worry. As this pre-conscious emotional arousal increases, it eventually becomes strong enough for the person to become aware of it. Therefore, there are two levels of emotion – conscious and unconscious. At the moment when an emotion is recognized, it is registered as such in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex.
Emotions bubbling below the threshold of awareness can have a powerful effect on our perception and reaction, although we are not even aware of their impact. Take, for example, a person who is irritated by what happened to him in the early morning of rough skirmishes with a friend. Then he was in a bad mood for several hours, taking offense at everyone and everything, although no one had any intention of offending him, and attacking people for no apparent reason. He probably wouldn't have paid any attention to his unabated irritation, and would have been surprised if anyone had called his attention to it. But the annoyance was simply beyond his awareness and made him snarl at those around him. As soon as this reaction is recognized and registered in the cortex, he can already evaluate things in a new way, deciding to ignore the morning quarrel and change his mood and attitude to others. With this approach, emotional self-awareness becomes a structural element of the next principle of emotional intelligence: the acquisition of the ability to get rid of bad mood.
Chapter 5. Slaves of passion
Which accepts with equal gratitude
Blows and gifts from fate…
Give the man to me,
Whom passion would not make a slave of, and I his
I'll hide it in my heart, no, in the deepest recesses of my soul,
Where are you…
Hamlet, to Horatio
Self-control, the ability not to be a "slave to the passions", but to resist the emotional storms that follow the blows of fate, has been celebrated as a virtue since the time of Plato. In ancient Greek, this concept corresponded to the word sophrosyne, which in the translation of the Greek expert Page Dubois means "mindfulness and intelligence in the way of life; moderate poise and wisdom." The Christians of Ancient Rome and the early Christian Church called it temperantia, moderation, curbing emotional excesses. The goal is to find peace of mind, not to suppress emotions: each feeling is valuable and important in its own way. A life devoid of feelings would become a joyless desert of indifference, cut off and isolated from all joys. But, as Aristotle pointed out, what is really needed is a proper emotion, a feeling commensurate with the circumstances. When emotions are too muted, they cause depression and alienation. When they get out of control, when they go to extremes, they become pathological, as in paralyzing depression, overwhelming anxiety, raging anger, manic excitement.
Indeed, the key to emotional well-being is to contain the emotions that cause suffering. Extremes – emotions that build up too intensely or for too long – undermine our stability. Which, of course, doesn't mean that we have to experience any one kind of emotion; if a person is happy all the time, it suggests the sweetness of symbols-one of them was the smiling face that everyone was obsessed with in the 1970s. Much can be said about the constructive contribution of suffering to creative and spiritual life. Suffering softens the soul.
The UPS and downs, although they give life a peculiar edge, must remain in balance. In mental calculations, it is the ratio of positive and negative emotions that determines the feeling of well – being-as evidenced by the results of studies of the mood of hundreds of men and women. Volunteers constantly carried "squeakers" with them, from time to time reminding: you need to write down what you feel at the moment. The participants in the experiment were not required to try to avoid unpleasant feelings by all means and always be happy. It was necessary, rather, to ensure that the violent feelings did not rage uncontrollably and did not spoil the good mood. People who have experienced severe bouts of anger or depression are able to experience a sense of well-being if they have had equally joyful and happy periods, which played the role of a kind of compensation. Among other things, research has shown that emotional intelligence is independent of academic intelligence and there is virtually no relationship between grades, or IQ, and a person's emotional well-being.
Just as there is a constant "murmur" of thoughts in the mind, so there is a constant "buzz" of emotions. The sound signal can catch a person at six in the morning or at seven in the evening, and he will always be in a certain mood, and of course, in the morning on different days and moods will be different. But if a person has a certain average mood for several weeks or months, it means that they are generally healthy and well-off. It turns out that most people have relatively rare bouts of violent feelings, and many of us, if we fall into a gloomy despondency, it is very average, with gentle bumps on an emotional roller coaster ride.
However, managing our own emotions becomes a daily job for us. Most of all, we are busy – especially in our free time – trying to manage our mood. Whether we are reading a novel, watching TV, or choosing other activities or people to talk to, everything is designed to improve our health and mood. The ability to please yourself is a quality of paramount importance in the life of every person. Some theorists of psychoanalysis, such as John Bowlby and D. W. Winnicott, consider it one of the most effective mental tools. There is a theory that emotionally healthy babies learn to calm themselves by repeating the actions of their caregivers. This makes them less vulnerable to bursts of emotional brain activity.
As we have already understood, the brain is designed in such a way that we very often have little or no control over the moment when we are captured by any emotion, and do not have power over what nameemotion will capture us. But we can have some influence on how long it will last. This question does not arise in connection with ordinary sadness, excitement, or strong irritation; usually such moods pass with time and with patience. But when emotions are extremely strong and last longer than a certain acceptable time limit, they gradually turn into excruciating extreme forms: a chronic state of anxiety, indomitable rage, depression. And to remove their most severe and persistent manifestations, you may need drug therapy, psychotherapy, or both.
In such cases, one trait in the mechanism of emotional self-regulation is revealed: the chronic arousal of the emotional brain is too strong to be overcome without pharmacological help. For example, two-thirds of people with manic-depressive syndrome have never been treated. Lithium salt or the latest medications can disrupt the characteristic cycle of paralyzing depression, punctuated by manic episodes, during which chaotic exaltation and pretentiousness are mixed with irritation and anger. The only problem with manic-depressive syndrome is that while people are in possession of mania attacks, they are often too confident that they do not need any help, although they make disastrous decisions. In severe emotional disorders, the use of psychiatric medications helps to better cope with everyday situations.
However, when it comes to overcoming the more familiar spectrum of bad moods, we are left to our own devices. Unfortunately, the techniques that we can use ourselves are not always effective. At least, this is the conclusion of Diana tice, a psychologist at Case Western reserve University, who interviewed more than four hundred men and women on the topic of what ways to get out of a bad mood they use and how successful their chosen tactics are.
Not everyone agrees with the philosophical premise that a bad mood should be changed. As tice discovered, there are real "mood purists" – about five percent of people who said they never try to change their mood. From their point of view, all emotions are "natural" and should be experienced as they arise, no matter how depressing they turn out to be. There was also a category of people who regularly tried to get into a nasty mood for pragmatic reasons. Doctors who have to be gloomy to tell patients bad news; social activists who resent injustice in order to fight it more successfully. There was even a young man who reported that he artificially caused irritation in order to help his younger brother cope with abusers on the Playground. Some showed downright Machiavellian dexterity in manipulating moods, such as the commissioners for receiving money on bills of exchange, who deliberately enraged themselves in order to show as much firmness as possible with defaulters. But if you don't take into account the rare cases of purposefully cultivating unpleasant feelings, almost everyone complained that they were at the mercy of their moods. People's achievements in getting rid of bad moods were definitely mixed.
33. Purism – the pursuit of perfection, the demand for perfection; purist – requiring perfection, purity in any business.
The anatomy of rage
Imagine that someone suddenly cuts you off on the Expressway while you are driving your car in full enjoyment. If your first thought is "That son of a bitch!", it almost certainly means that you will soon have a fit of rage, regardless of whether it will be followed by other thoughts of violence and revenge like: "he could have run into me! You bastard, you'll get it from me!" Your knuckles turn white as you grip the steering wheel with all your strength, probably imagining that you are at the throat of an enemy. Your body is mobilized to fight, not to run: you are shaking, beads of sweat appear on your forehead, your heart is pounding and ready to jump out of your chest, and your face is frozen in an evil grimace. You are ready to kill the scoundrel. Then, if the driver of the car behind you honks impatiently because you've slowed down to avoid a collision, you're ready to pounce in a frenzy. Such are the consequences of overexertion, dashing and racing on the highways!
For comparison, consider a different process of increasing rage with a more merciful attitude to the driver who cut you off: "Maybe he didn't notice me, or maybe he had some good reason to drive so carelessly, for example, someone urgently needed medical attention." Such thoughts dilute the anger with compassion, or at least make you treat the incident without prejudice, thereby preventing the growth of rage. The point is that – if we recall Aristotle's advice to experience only proper anger – most often our anger gets out of control. Excellent said Benjamin Franklin: "Anger never flares up without a reason, but it is rarely respectful."
Of course, there are different types of anger. So, the amygdala may well be the main source of a sudden outburst of anger against a driver whose carelessness has put our safety at risk. However, at the other end of the emotional chain, the neocortex is more likely to "ignite" a more deliberate anger, something like a desire for cold-blooded revenge or a reprimand for an unfair or dishonest act. Such deliberate anger is of the kind that, in Franklin's words, "has a good reason" or gives the impression that it does.
Of all the moods that people would like to avoid, rage is the most rebellious. According to tice, anger is the worst thing to control. It can be called the most seductive of negative emotions: an exculpatory internal monologue that stimulates extreme irritation, fills the mind with highly convincing arguments to vent anger. Unlike sadness, rage awakens energy and even pushes us to take action. The seductive, persuasive power of anger itself explains why certain ideas are so widespread, such as that anger cannot be controlled, or that it should at least not be restrained: it is only good to vent it on others, because it is followed by catharsis.34 There is an opposite point of view. It probably expressed a protest against the above-described bleak picture. Anger can be avoided altogether. As shown by a perusal of the results of the studies, all the conventional wisdom regarding anger is wrong, if at all, are not an invention.
A string of outraged thoughts that support anger can also provide one of the most powerful ways to mitigate it: first of all, you need to destroy the beliefs that feed it. The longer we think about what outraged us, the more "sufficient reasons" and excuses for our anger we can invent. Thinking adds fuel to the fire. But a different view of things will extinguish the flame. Tice found that one of the most effective ways to completely calm anger is to describe the situation again, but from a positive point of view.
"Wave" of rage
This finding is consistent with the Findings of University of Alabama psychologist Dolph Zillmann, who studied anger and the anatomy of rage in long, carefully executed experiments. The source of anger is rooted in the combat flank of the "fight or flight" response. It is not surprising that Zillmann found a universal trigger for anger – a sense of danger. The signal can be not only a direct physical threat, but also – which happens much more often – a symbolic threat to self-esteem or self-esteem, if a person is treated rudely or unfairly, if he is insulted or humiliated, if, in pursuit of some important goal, he fails. These perceptions cause a surge in limbic system activity, which has a twofold effect on the brain. The surge, on the one hand, is the release of catecholamines, 35 which provide a rapid, episodic burst of energy sufficient for "a single decisive action,"as Zillmann puts it," like a fight or an escape." The energy release lasts for several minutes, during which the body prepares for a good fight or a quick retreat, depending on how the emotional brain evaluates the opposition.
Meanwhile, another pulsation, excited by the amygdala in the adrenocortical branch of the nervous system, creates a General tonic (related to muscle tone) background of readiness for action. It lasts much longer than the release of catecholamine energy. Generalized arousal of the adrenal glands and cortex can last for hours or even days, keeping the emotional brain in a state of special readiness to activate and turn into a base on which subsequent reactions can be formed with exceptional speed. In General, the explosive state created by adrenocortical activation explains why people are much more prone to outbursts of anger if they were already angry or slightly irritated by something else. Stress of any kind causes adrenocortical activation, which lowers the threshold of what provokes anger. Consequently, a person who has had a difficult day at work is particularly vulnerable and later, at home, becomes enraged because-well, say, the children are too noisy or made a mess – that in other circumstances would not have been able to cause an emotional RAID. Zillmann came to this understanding of anger based on the results of a number of studies he conducted. Usually, his experiments involved male and female volunteers and an assistant who, having a task to make them angry, made snide remarks about them. Then the volunteers watched some funny or, on the contrary, sad movie, after which they were given the opportunity to repay the snide assistant by expressing their assessment of his qualities, which they would supposedly take into account when deciding whether to hire him or not. The degree of their revenge was exactly the opposite of the level of irritation they were in after watching the film: the tragic film caused people more irritation, and they gave the assistant the worst ratings.
Anger is based on anger
Zillmann's experiments seem to explain the dynamics of the family drama I witnessed when I went shopping at the supermarket. Between the shelves drifted the voice of a young mother, expressively and steadily telling her three – year-old son categorically "Put... this... back!".
"But I want it!" - he whimpered, clinging even more tightly to the box with a Cereal Breakfast "teenage mutant ninja turtles".
"Put it back!" came the order louder, and the anger was clearly building. At the same moment, the girl in the cart dropped the jar of jam she was grabbing with her lips. When the jar fell to the floor and shattered, the mother screamed, "I knew it!" and gave the baby a ringing slap on the back of the head, furiously snatched the box from her son's hands and threw it noisily on the nearest shelf. Then she scooped him up in her arms and ran down the aisle, pushing the cart that was leaning dangerously sideways in front of her; the girl in the cart was sobbing loudly, and the boy, swinging his legs, was yelling, "Let me go, let me go!»
Zillmann found that when the body is already stressed, as, for example, the mother from the supermarket, and something provokes an "emotional RAID", the next emotion, whether it is anger or anxiety, will be unusually strong. This is the dynamic of the process when someone becomes enraged. Zillmann sees growing anger as "a sequential series of provocations, where each triggers an excitatory reaction that fades very slowly." In this sequence, each new anger-provoking thought (or sensation) becomes a mini-trigger for catecholamine waves created by the amygdala, each wave being formed on the hormonal impulse of the previous waves. The second wave comes before the first has subsided, and the third is at the peak of the first two, and so on. Each subsequent wave "rides" on the tails of the previous ones, quickly increasing the level of physiological arousal of the body. The thought that comes later increases the degree of irritation to a greater extent than the initial one. Thus, anger grows on anger, and the emotional brain "heats up" the further, the more, and as a result, rage, not restrained by reason, easily turns into a riot.
At this point, people are relentless and not accessible to reason; all their thoughts revolve around revenge and retaliation, and they completely forget about the possible consequences. As Zillmann explains, the highest level of arousal "feeds a deceptive notion of strength and invulnerability that can inspire and promote aggression" when an enraged person "for lack of cognitive guidance" relies on the most primitive responses. The impulse from the limbic system prevails. The roughest lessons in the cruelty of life become a guide to action.
Balm for anger
Taking into account the results of the study of the anatomy of anger, Zillmann sees two main ways to intervene. The first is to grasp the thoughts that cause waves of anger and question their correctness, since it is this initial assessment of the interaction that both reinforces and supports the first outburst of anger, and the subsequent ones only fan the fire. The timing is important: the earlier you stop the cycle of anger, the greater the effect you can achieve. In fact, the development of anger can be completely stopped if calming information arrives before the person begins to act on the basis of anger.
The role of the ability to understand in controlling anger is clarified by another Zillmann experiment, in which a rude assistant in every possible way insulted and exasperated voluntary participants in the experiment who "rode" on an exercise bike. When the volunteers were given the opportunity to return the favor to the rude experimenter (again by giving him a bad grade, which they thought would be used when considering him for a job), they did so with malicious glee. But in one version of the experiment, another assistant came in at a time when the volunteers were already annoyed, and just before they would have had a chance to retaliate; she told the cheeky experimenter that he was being asked for a phone call in the lobby below. As he left, he made a snide remark to her, too. But she took it with complete understanding, explaining to the others after he left that he was under terrible pressure and upset about the upcoming oral exams for a degree. When the angry volunteers had an opportunity to get even with the brute, they did not do so, but expressed their sympathy for him.
This mitigating information allows you to re-evaluate the events that cause anger. But there is a special "window of opportunity"to curb anger. Zillmann found that it worked well with moderate degrees of irritation. But when the rage reaches a high level, it doesn't matter. The cause is what he calls "cognitive failure." In other words, people become unable to think straight. When people were mad with rage, they waved off the mitigating information with the words: "Well, this is too much!" or resorted to "the most rude expressions that only exist in their native language," as Zillmann delicately put it.
Once, when I was thirteen years old, I ran out of the house in a fit of rage, vowing never to go back there again. It was a beautiful summer day, as I remember it now, and I went quite a long way, wandering through the delightful narrow streets, until I felt that the silence and beauty gradually tempered my anger and brought peace to my soul. A few hours later, moved almost to tears, I returned home, regretting my stupid act. Since then, when I have an attack of anger, I try to deal with it in the same way as possible, and I believe that this is the best method of treatment.
This story answers the theme of one of the first scientific studies of anger, conducted in 1899. It still serves as a model for the second way of calming down. To "cool the passions", in the physiological sense – release from the release of adrenaline, requires an environment that does not involve additional mechanisms for inciting rage. For example, in a dispute, you need to stop communicating with your opponent for a while. Then an angry person can slow down the build-up of hostility by finding a way to distract or amuse themselves. Entertainment, according to Zillmann, is a powerful way to change the mood, which is natural: it is difficult to get annoyed when you are having a good time. The trick is to first cool down the anger to a point where the person is able to cheer up.
Zillmann's analysis of the processes of increasing and calming anger provides an explanation for many of Diana tice's discoveries about strategies that people say they use to mitigate anger. According to one fairly effective strategy, you need to move away from everyone and everything and calm down completely alone. Many men take this as advice to go for a ride – which makes life harder for other drivers (as tice told me, her own theory prompted her to be more vigilant behind the wheel). It would probably be safer to go for a long walk. Vigorous exercise also helps against anger. Different relaxation methods, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, also have a similar effect. They change the physiology of the body, moving it from a state of strong to a state of low excitement, and perhaps also distract from everything that caused anger. The mechanism of calming down with active exercise is probably the same: after a strong physiological activation during charging, the body, as soon as you stop it, returns to the level of low activation.
However, no way to calm down will work if you go through the thoughts that provoke anger one by one in your head: each such thought itself is a small trigger for gradually turning on the irritation. The positive side of entertainment is that it interrupts the chain of annoying thoughts. In the course of studying the strategies that many people use to cope with anger, tice found that a variety of entertainment, generally speaking, helps to curb anger. So, television, movies, reading, and the like do not allow you to endlessly obmusolivat annoying thoughts that deprive your mental balance. According to tice, such pleasures as shopping and delicious food do not give a tangible effect, because nothing prevents you from continuing to mentally resent and resent, cruising around the supermarket or putting a piece of chocolate cake in your mouth.
To these strategies, you can add several methods developed by Redford Williams, a psychiatrist at Duke University. He finds ways to help cope with irritability to those unfriendly and malicious people who have a high risk of getting heart disease. In particular, he advises them to use self-awareness to detect cynical or hostile thoughts as they appear and write them down in a notebook. Angry thoughts captured in this way can be questioned and re-evaluated, although Zillmann believes that this method works better in a situation where the irritation has not yet turned into rage.
The deceptiveness of discharging tension by saying
Once, when I got into a new York taxi, a young man who was crossing the street stopped right in front of the car, waiting out the traffic. The driver, impatient to get moving, honked at him, prompting him to get out of the way. There was an angry look and an obscene gesture in response.
"You son of a bitch!" the driver roared, slamming the accelerator and brake pedals simultaneously, causing the car to make threatening lunges forward. In the face of a deadly threat, the young man with a dissatisfied look slightly stepped aside and, as the taxi slowly crawled past him, built into the traffic flow, hit him with his fist. After that, the driver broke into a long tirade against the guy, which consisted almost entirely of unprintable expressions.
As we drove on, the driver, still visibly agitated, said to me: "In no case do not tolerate insults from anyone. Be sure to shout something back – at least it will make you feel better!»
Catharsis is sometimes considered an excellent way to deal with anger. The popular theory says: "it will make you feel better." But, as Zillmann's findings suggest, there is an argument against catharsis made sometime in the 1950s. Then psychologists began experimentally testing the effects of catharsis, and time after time they found that "letting go" of anger does little or nothing in terms of releasing it (although due to the deceptive nature of anger, it can feel satisfying). There may be some special conditions under which outpourings of abuse in anger actually work: when they are directed directly at the person who is the object of the anger, when the outpouring restores self-control or eliminates injustice, or when it causes "justifiable damage" to another person, forces him to change some displeasing actions without having to respond in the same way. But because of the inflammatory nature of anger, it can be easier to advise than to do.
Tice found that outpouring of anger is one of the worst ways to calm down: outbursts of rage tend to increase the activation of the emotional brain, causing people to experience not less, but more intense emotion. Based on people's accounts of cases where they vented their anger at someone who annoyed them, tice found that the end result was an extension of the condition, not an end to it. The following method was much more effective: at first, people calmed down, and then met face to face with the person who caused their anger, in order to resolve the dispute in a more constructive or convincing manner. I happened once to hear the answer of the Tibetan teacher Gogama Trungpa, when asked how best to cope with anger: "don't suppress it. But don't be guided by it either."
Calming anxiety: well, are we worried?
Oh, My God! With the silencer, it seems to be a matter of seams… I'm afraid I'll have to take the car to the workshop!.. But I can't afford such expenses… Or I'll have to get into Jimmy's College savings… What if I don't have enough money to pay for his education?.. How inopportune were those bad grades in last week's report card… What if he gets worse at school and can't go to College?... And then there's this damn silencer ... it doesn't work at all!
This is about how an anxious mind endlessly replays the same scenario of everyday melodrama: one set of worries pulls the next one, and that one clings to the previous one. The example above belongs to Elizabeth Raumer and Thomas Borkowitz, psychologists at Penn state University. For a long time they studied anxiety, which is the essence of all anxiety, and raised it from a neurotic problem to a scientific one. Of course, it's okay if a person is possessed by anxiety; in the process of thinking about a problem – that is, using constructive thinking that may look like a concern – a solution often comes. Indeed, anxiety is based on a certain response, namely, vigilance against potential danger, which has undoubtedly played an extremely important role in terms of survival in the course of evolution. When fear engages the emotional brain, part of the resulting anxiety fixes attention on the immediate threat, forcing the mind to focus on the idea of how to deal with it, and distract itself from everything else for a while. Anxiety in a sense can be seen as a rehearsal of an event that may unfold in an unfavorable way, and a statement of how to deal with it. Therefore, the task of anxiety is to work out the optimal solution when faced with life's difficulties, anticipating the dangers before they appear.
The problem usually occurs in connection with a chronic, that is, prolonged, repeatedly recurring anxiety, which, returning again and again, does not bring you closer to a positive solution. A careful analysis of the state of chronic anxiety reveals that it has all the attributes of low-grade emotional thuggery: anxiety appears out of nowhere, cannot be controlled, creates a constant noise of anxiety, is inaccessible to the mind, and locks the person tormented by fears in a solitary cell with a crusty attitude to the problem that worries him. When this cycle of anxiety development becomes more intense and becomes stable, it eventually ends with a real nervous attack, or fear neuroses, including various kinds of phobias, obsessions, urges, and panic attacks. Each of these disorders has its own way of concentrating anxiety: with phobias – on a frightening situation, with obsessive States – on preventing some terrible misfortune, with panic attacks-on the fear of death or the very possibility of an attack.
The common denominator of all these States is out-of-control anxiety. For example, a woman who was treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder developed a series of rituals that took most of her waking time to perform: showering for forty-five minutes several times a day daily and washing her hands for five minutes twenty or more times a day. She didn't sit down until she first wiped the seat with a swab soaked in alcohol. She never touched children or animals – both of them seemed "too dirty". At the heart of all these obsessive actions was a pathological fear of microbes. She was constantly worried that without washing and sterilizing, she would catch some disease and die.
A woman who was treated for "General anxiety syndrome" (a psychiatric diagnostic category for those who are in a state of constant anxiety) responded to the requirement to worry aloud for one minute:
I probably won't be able to do it properly. This is so deliberate that it can't be an indication of something real, and we need to figure out what it is. Because if we don't get to the bottom of this, I won't get better. And if I don't get better, I'll never be happy.
In such a masterly display of worry about worry asking to worry for a minute in just a few seconds brought to mind the catastrophe of a lifetime: "I will never be happy." Agitation, as a rule, dictates such a course of action: voicing them to himself, the patient jumps from one subject of concern to another, and the story most often contains inflating any of them to the scale of a catastrophe, some terrible tragedy. Agitation is almost always perceived by the inner ear rather than the mind's eye, that is, it is expressed in words rather than images – a fact that is important for controlling anxiety.
Borkovets and his colleagues began studying anxiety as such when they were trying to find a way to treat insomnia. According to the observations of other researchers, there are two types of anxiety:cognitive (anxiety-inducing thoughts) and somatic (physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as sweating, a frantic heartbeat, or muscle tension). As Borkovets discovered, the main problem for insomniacs is not physical activity at all. They were kept awake by obsessive thoughts. They experienced chronic anxiety and couldn't stop worrying no matter how much they wanted to sleep. The only thing that really helped them fall asleep was freeing their minds from anxiety and focusing on the sensations created by some method of relaxation. In short, the only way to get rid of anxiety is to switch your attention to something else.
Most anxiety-stricken people seem incapable of doing this. The reason, according to Borkovets, is due to frequent anxiety, which is extremely amplified and becomes a habit. But that seems to be a certain virtue of worry: it becomes a way to deal with a potential threat or possible danger. The work of anxiety, when it takes hold of a person, is to list possible dangers and find ways to deal with them. This, however, does not mean that the restless person carefully considers all options. New solutions and original approaches to dealing with a problem do not necessarily arise out of concern, especially if it has become chronic. Anxiety, as a rule, makes you just chew the danger, sinking into the fear caused by it, but remaining in the same line of thinking, and not finding solutions to problems. Chronically anxious patients worry about a lot of different things, most of which will almost certainly never happen. They see danger in what others simply do not notice.
However, people who suffer from feelings of agonizing anxiety have repeatedly told Borkovets that it helps them and that their worries can continue indefinitely, forming a closed cycle of fear-ridden thinking. But why does anxiety turn into a kind of mental addiction? The fact is a fact, although, as Borkovets notes, somewhat strange: the habit of worrying is reinforced in the same sense as addictions in General. Because people worry about events that are actually very unlikely (a loved one will die in a plane crash, go broke, etc.). at least the primitive limbic system sees something magical here. Like an amulet that protects against some expected evil, anxiety supposedly helps prevent the danger that causes it.
34. Catharsis (from the Greek. katharsis – cleansing) – emotional unloading, mystical cleansing of the soul from the dirt of sensuality, physicality.
35. Catecholamines are pyrocatechin derivatives that are actively involved as hormones and mediators in physiological and biochemical processes in animals and humans; catecholamines include epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
How anxiety "works"
She came to Los Angeles from the Midwest to work for a publisher. But the publisher was soon outbid by another owner, and she was left out of business. When she decided to go freelance as a freelance journalist – a very unstable area of the labor market, by the way – she quickly realized that she would either have to work hard for days, or she would have nothing to pay for her apartment. She learned what it means to ration phone calls, and for the first time in her life, she was left without health insurance.36 The lack of a permanent source of income was particularly painful for her, and naturally, when she immediately discovered that her health had deteriorated dramatically, she became convinced that every headache attack was indicative of a brain tumor, and in addition, she constantly imagined herself dying in a car accident as soon as she drove away from home. Her mind was filled with disturbing thoughts, and she was beginning to have tormenting fantasies. But she, she said, took her worries as something familiar.
Borkovec discovered another unexpected benefit of anxiety. While people are immersed in restless thoughts, they seem to be oblivious to the subjective feelings of anxiety aroused by these thoughts (rapid heartbeat, perspiration, feverish chills), and as the anxiety continues, it does seem to partially suppress the anxiety. At least this is indicated by the heart rate. This is probably how events unfold: a person who is prone to anxiety pays attention to something that conjures up an image of a potential threat or danger; this presented disaster, in turn, triggers a mild anxiety attack. Then the victim of anxiety goes into a long train of painful thoughts, each of which throws up another cause for concern. While this chain continues to attract attention, focusing on these very thoughts distracts the mind from the original image of the disaster that triggered the anxiety. As Borkovets found, images are more powerful triggers for physiologically driven anxiety than thoughts. Therefore, immersion in thoughts, except for mental images of all sorts of disasters, partially facilitates the experience of anxiety. To the same extent, anxiety increases as a half-hearted remedy for the very anxiety that it has caused.
But chronic anxiety is also useless, because it takes the form of cliched, rigid ideas, rather than creative insights that really push you to solve the problem. This inertia is not only manifested in the same content of the disturbing thought, which again and again reproduces the original idea. At the level of the nervous system, there seems to be cortical rigidity – a deficit in the ability of the emotional brain to respond flexibly to changing circumstances. In short, chronic anxiety dictates several sequential ways that calm anxiety to some extent, but never solve the problem.
The only thing chronically restless individuals can't do is follow the advice they are most often given: "Just stop worrying" (and even more so "Don't worry and be happy"). Since the manifestations of chronic anxiety seem to be periods of low activity of the amygdala, they occur on their own. And once they arise, they are – by their very nature – preserved. But after doing a lot of experimental work, Borkovets found a few simple measures that will help even the most incorrigible restless individuals to control this habit.
The first step is self – awareness. You need to track the disturbing episodes as close to the beginning as possible, ideally as soon as or immediately after a fleeting image of a disaster triggers a cycle of anxiety and anxiety. Borkovets teaches people his method, first of all teaching them to track the subjective indicators of the anxiety stimulus and especially to learn to identify situations that cause anxiety, or fleeting thoughts and images that stimulate anxiety, as well as the accompanying feelings of anxiety in the body. By practicing, people learn to identify anxiety at an earlier and earlier point in the anxiety spiral. In addition, they learn relaxation techniques that they can apply when they notice the beginning of anxiety, and by practicing relaxation every day, they will be able to use the techniques in the place where they will be most needed.
However, the relaxation method alone is not enough. People who are tormented by disturbing thoughts must first learn to fight them back. If they don't, the spiral of anxiety will continue to spiral. As a next step, they should take a critical stance on their predictions: is it likely that the event that scares them will actually happen? Is there only one scenario, no options? Is it possible to take some constructive steps? Would it really help them to chew on the same disturbing thoughts endlessly?
combination of thoughtfulness and healthy skepticism would most likely work as a brake and stop the nervous excitement that feeds not too much anxiety. Actively generating these kinds of thoughts will help trigger a circuit that can prevent the limbic system from turning on anxiety. At the same time, active relaxation counteracts the alarm signals that the emotional brain sends throughout the body.
Indeed, as Borkovets points out, such strategies set the course of mental activity that is incompatible with anxiety. If the anxiety is not prevented from returning again and again, it will acquire the "ability to convince". And if you fight back, considering several equally likely options, then you will stop naively accepting every disturbing thought as true. This method helps to get rid of the habit of worrying, even for those who have anxiety becomes so serious that it can be equated with a psychiatric diagnosis.
On the other hand, people whose anxiety has become so severe that it has developed into a phobia, obsessive – compulsive disorder, or panic attack might be wiser – which is a sign of self-awareness-to seek help with medication to break the cycle. Readjustment of the emotional circuit through therapy is also necessary in order to reduce the likelihood of the return of fear neuroses after stopping medication.
How to deal with melancholy
Despondency is the only mood that everyone tries to shake off as quickly as possible, making every effort. According to Diana tice, people are the most inventive when it comes to trying to get rid of the Blues. Of course, you should not get rid of all sadness, because melancholy, for example, like any other mood, has its own reasons. The sadness that loss brings invariably suppresses our interest in entertainment and pleasure, focuses our attention on what is lost, and weakens our energy, preventing us from regaining our strength, at least for a while. In short, it encourages a kind of reflexive withdrawal from the turbulent gyrations of life, leaving us in limbo to grieve for the loss, try to understand its meaning, and, in the end, make a psychological adjustment and make new plans for how to live on.
Bereavement or loss is motivated; utter depression is not. William Styron gave a vivid description of "the many terrible manifestations of this disease", including self-hatred, a sense of worthlessness, "a chilling bleakness" and "a sense of longing, fear and alienation, and most of all a suffocating anxiety". In addition, there are also intellectual indicators: "loss of orientation, inability to concentrate mentally and memory lapses" and – at a later stage – consciousness is "at the mercy of random distortions", there is a "feeling as if the thought processes were covered with a poisonous, indescribable wave that erased all pleasant reactions to the living world". There are also physical results: insomnia, feeling as indifferent as a zombie, "a kind of numbness, relaxation, or rather, a strange fragility" along with "fussy restlessness". Then the pleasure was completely lost: "the Food, like everything else from the sphere of sensory sensations, completely lost its taste." In conclusion, hope died. Then the "gray, fine drizzle of depressed mood" took the form of despair, so palpable that it became like physical pain, and so unbearable that suicide began to seem the best solution.
With such a serious depression, life is paralyzed; no beginnings. The symptoms of depression themselves indicate a life of waiting. No medication or therapy helped Styron; only time and the shelter of a hospital dispelled the gloom. But most people, especially in less severe cases, will benefit from psychotherapy, as well as drug therapy: today prozac is used for treatment, but there are more than a dozen other formulations that bring some relief, especially for severe depression.
But here I want to focus on a much more common sadness, the upper limit of which, from a formal point of view, reaches the level of "asymptomatic depression", that is, ordinary melancholy. We are faced with a range of suppressed States that people can cope with on their own if they have their own spiritual resources. Unfortunately, some of the strategies that are most often used can lead to unexpected and unpleasant consequences. People are feeling worse than before. One of these strategies is privacy, which often seems very attractive; however, much more often it just adds to the sadness of feeling alone, disconnected from people. Tice discovered that the most popular tactic for dealing with depression is socializing – leaving the house to eat, go to a baseball game, or go to the movies, in short, something to do with friends or family. All this works very well if the end result is to get rid of sad thoughts. And just improves the mood if a person decides to reflect on what plunged him into a melancholy.
In fact, one of the main factors that determines whether the depressed state will continue or dissipate is the degree of immersion in despondency. Worrying about what is depressing us seems to make the depression deeper and longer. During depression, anxiety takes many forms, but attention is always focused on some aspect of the depression itself: how exhausted we feel, how little energy we have left, how little motivation we have, or, for example, how little work we do. Usually, none of these thoughts are accompanied by specific actions that would help alleviate the problem. Other standard worry options include the following scenarios: "separate yourself from everyone and everything and think about how terrible you feel; worry that your spouse (or spouse) will refuse you because you are depressed; worry, wondering if you are going to have another sleepless night." So says Stanford University psychologist Susan Nolen-Hauksma, who has spent a lot of time studying the range of thoughts of people in a state of depression.
People in a depressed mood sometimes view their thoughts as an attempt to "understand themselves better"; in fact, they feed their despondency by not taking any steps to actually help themselves dispel the bad mood. So, from the point of view of therapy, it is very useful to think deeply about the causes of depression, which will lead to insights or actions that will change the conditions that led to depression. In any case, passive immersion in despondency only worsens the bad mood.
The constant chewing of anxious thoughts also increases depression, creating conditions that are even more depressing. Nolen-Haaksma cites the example of women engaged in the sale of goods by phone. She would get depressed and spend hours frustrated that she couldn't make important trade deals. Trade deteriorated, giving her a sense of failure that fed the depression. If she had tried to distract herself from her depression, she would have thrown herself into work, vigorously calling clients and seeing it as a way to get rid of sad thoughts. Sales of goods would probably not have decreased, and the feeling of a successful sale would have strengthened her self-confidence, somehow reducing her depression.
According to Nolen-Hauksm, women are much more prone to sad thoughts than men. This, she believes, at least partly explains the fact that women are diagnosed with depression twice as often as men. Other factors, of course, also contribute: for example, women are more noticeable for their misfortunes, and in addition they have more reasons for despondency in their lives. Men can always drown their sorrows in wine (which they do about twice as often as women).
Studies have shown that cognitive therapy aimed at changing thinking patterns is not inferior to drug therapy in the treatment of mild clinical depression. And in preventing the return of mild depression, it even surpasses them. Two strategies were particularly effective in the battle. One is that we learn to question thoughts that previously seemed basic. We question their validity and find more positive solutions. The other involves deliberate planning for a pleasant of distractions.
The only reason that distraction works is the automatic action of depressing thoughts that unceremoniously encroach on a person's state of mind. Even if people who are in a depressed state try to suppress their sad thoughts, they often can't find a better way out. The surging wave of oppressive thoughts begins to have a powerful attracting effect on the chain of associations. When sad people were asked, for example, to sort out jumbled sentences of four words, they were much better at understanding phrases about longing ("the Future looks very ominous") than about joy ("the Future looks extremely rosy").
With a persistent tendency to depression, even the distractions that people find for themselves are overshadowed. When depressed people were given a list of ways to distract their thoughts from something sad, such as a friend's funeral, they were more likely to choose the latter. Richard Wenzlaff, a Psychologist at the University of Texas who conducted these studies, concluded that people who are depressed have to make a special effort to pay attention to something completely joyful. They were afraid to carelessly choose something that would spoil their mood again (a tearful movie, a sad novel).
Ways to lighten up your mood
Imagine that you are driving a car in a fog on an unfamiliar, steeply ascending winding road. Suddenly, a car pulls off the road just a few feet ahead of you, and you don't have time to stop in time. You push the brake pedal hard into the floor, your car skids, and it drives into the side of another car. You notice, just before the glass shatters and the metal is pressed into the metal, that the interior is full of children being taken to kindergarten. Then, in the sudden silence after the collision, there is a collective cry. You run to the car and see that one of the children is lying motionless. You are filled with remorse and grief at the sight of a tragedy…
Such chilling stories were used to upset the volunteers who participated in Wenzlaff's experiments. Then they had to try to put the scene out of their minds and make short notes about the direction of their own thoughts for nine minutes, and each time the idea of a tragic episode entered their minds, they continued to write, making a check mark on the sheet. Although most of the participants in the experiment recalled the unpleasant picture less and less often over time, those who were in a more depressed mood, such thoughts came to mind much more often; they even indirectly addressed her in thoughts that were supposed to serve as a distraction.
Moreover, the depressed volunteers resorted to other depressing thoughts to distract themselves. As Wenzlaff later told me, "Association of thoughts occurs not just by content, but also by mood. People have a set of sad thoughts running through their heads that are most likely to come when they are in a bad mood. People who are easily depressed tend to create very strong associations between these thoughts, so it is much more difficult to suppress them after the person has already taken over the bad mood. Ironically, people in a depressed state, in order to get some distressing episode out of their head, remember another, but similar in content, which only excites even more negative emotions."
According to one theory, crying may be a natural means of lowering the level of chemicals in the brain that "ignite" grief. But while sobs can sometimes break the spell of sadness, they can't eliminate the causes of despair. The idea of "useful crying" is wrong: crying that reinforces a mental experience only lengthens the suffering. Entertainment breaks the chain of thoughts that feed despondency. One of the leading theories on why electroconvulsive therapy (i.e. electroshock) is effective in treating the most severe forms of depression is that it causes short-term memory loss: patients feel better because they can't remember why they were so sad. In any case, to shake off ordinary sadness, as Diana tice advises, many people resort to such entertainment as reading, television and movies, video games and puzzles, sleep and dreams, like fantasies about how to spend another vacation. Wenzlaff adds: the most effective are entertainment that dramatically changes your mood (exciting sports competition, funny Comedy, humorous book. However, you should be careful. Some people who are tormented by anxiety are themselves able to strengthen depression. Research shows that the most avid telemanns tend to become even more depressed after watching several programs in a row than before!).
Aerobics, according to tice, is one of the most effective means to help bring a person out of mild depression, as well as to dispel just a bad mood. Here, however, it is appropriate to note that uplifting exercise works best for the lazy, that is, for those who usually do not work too hard with exercise. For those who do gymnastics every day, its benefits in terms of mood changes were maximum when they first began to develop this habit. By the way, regular exercise often has the opposite effect on mood: people start to feel uncomfortable if they miss a workout. Such an effective effect of physical exercise, apparently, is due to the fact that they change the physiological state of a person caused by his mood: depression-a state of low activity, and aerobics "pushes" the body into a state of high activity. In addition, various relaxation methods that lower the body's tone have a good effect on anxiety if the activity is high enough, but they do not help much with depression. The principle of operation of these methods, in all likelihood, is to interrupt the cyclical development of depression or anxiety, since they all transfer the brain to a level of activation incompatible with the emotional state that has subordinated the brain to its power.
Another fairly popular remedy for melancholy was to encourage yourself with treats and sensual pleasures. When people were depressed, they usually took a hot bath or ate their favorite food, listened to music, or had sex. Buying yourself a gift or something delicious to get rid of a bad mood-as well as shopping in General, even if it was limited to just looking at the Windows – is especially popular with women. Watching teachers and College students, tice noticed that women were three times more likely than men to choose food as their strategy for getting rid of sadness. On the other hand, men who were depressed were five times more likely to turn to drink or drugs. The trouble with overeating or using alcohol as a cure for depression is the unexpected and unpleasant consequences that they can easily lead to: gluttony leads to shame, and alcohol acts on the Central nervous system as a depressant and only exacerbates the manifestations of depression itself.
A more constructive way to improve your mood, according to tice, is to organize a modest victory or easy success: you can, for example, vigorously take up a long-delayed General cleaning of the entire house or finally do some other things that have long needed to be put in order. In addition, the improvement in self-image, which is achieved only by dressing up or putting on makeup, was encouraging.
One of the most powerful (used almost exclusively in therapy) remedies for depression is changing the way you look at things, or cognitive reconstruction. It's so natural to mourn the end of a relationship and indulge in self – pity. For example, because of the belief: "this means that I will always be alone." A sure way to add to the feeling of despair! However, if you step back and think about why your relationship was not so strong and long, and why you and your partner did not fit together, in other words, look at the loss in a different, more positive light, you will find a cure for sadness. Therefore, the mood of cancer patients, regardless of the severity of their condition, improved if they could remember another patient who was worse ("I'm probably not so bad – at least I can walk"). Those who compared themselves to healthy people were the most depressed. Such comparisons with the worst case are surprisingly encouraging: what seemed depressing suddenly doesn't look so bad.
There is another effective way to get out of depression – to help those who are in difficult circumstances. Depression is fueled by self-reflection and self-interest. Helping others takes us away from these concerns, because we are deeply imbued with the feelings of people who are suffering. When someone threw themselves into volunteer work-coaching a Minor League, being an older brother, or keeping a homeless person – these activities, as tice's research has shown, proved to be one of the most powerful ways to change the mood. But also one of the rarest.
Well, at least some people are able to get rid of melancholy by turning to some supernatural force. As tice told me, "prayer, if you are very religious, has a beneficial effect in all moods, and especially in depression."
36. Until the recent health care reforms in the United States, only working people had health insurance that provided health care. Other persons were left without medical assistance. Ed.
37. Little League – baseball League for boys and girls 8-12 years old.