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Reviews

How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett
2017-04-09

How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett

What feels like a hundred years ago, I read Damasio's Descartes' Error, which flipped the role of emotions from being a distraction to rational thought rather to being its driver. I was fascinated to see emotions portrayed as a positive and informative force in our mental lives, rather than as something to be controlled and curtailed. But what, exactly, are emotions, and where do they come from?
I have been enjoying Barrett's interesting book How Emotions Are Made wherein she flips the origin of emotions once more. Rather than being reactions to what we experience, she argues that emotions are in fact our brain's way of predicting and conceptualizing our current bodily status, both its relationship to the world but also the brain's relationship with the body. In this way, not only is the brain trying to make sense of the body's chemical and hormonal state (for example in stress, the fight or flight hormonal system is active), but it is also trying to predict and construct an emotional state.
Barrett's book is a complicated but fascinating argument about the origin and role of emotions, filled with compelling examples and the latest research. It is highly readable and an enjoyable twist on current conceptions. Try this book out and let us know what you think!
--reviewed by Karl Bustamante

by: Karl

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