Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 5 of 78 
Next page End Contents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  

Still other emotions may arise from unconscious forces within us.
Suppose a part inside of us wants a very close relationship with one
parent. Our efforts to get attention from that parent, to be cute and
clever, to excel, to be attentive to that parent may arouse some
anxiety, but we are not aware of the source. We may even marry
someone similar to the admired parent without realizing it. Likewise,
suppose your boss unconsciously reminds you of a cruel older brother;
thus, the intensity of your fear and anger at the boss may surprise you
and others. 
In short, human feelings are complexly caused, i.e. the learned
aspects of emotions may be (1) operantly conditioned, (2) classically
conditioned, (3) socially learned, (4) a result of our thoughts, and (5)
a result of unconscious processes. This chapter deals mostly with (1)
and (2). For (3) see chapters 13 and 14, for (4) see chapter 14 and for
(5) see chapter 15. However, in reality these five learning processes
are often all mixed up together (along with reflexes, hormones,
genetic predispositions) in the development of an emotion. 
Understanding the way we acquired a certain complex emotional
reaction might help us figure out how to change the feeling. On the
other hand, knowing the etiology of each emotion may not be
necessary. It seems quite likely that several treatment methods will
work regardless of the causes. Example: suppose you feel inadequate.
Thus, you could take an "insight" approach (see chapter 15) in which
you explore your childhood and eventually say to yourself, "It is silly to
feel inadequate because my parents were critical and put me down;
I'm OK, I don't have to be superior and I don't have to continue feeling
inferior." Or you could challenge the irrational (unproven) idea that
you are inadequate and set about demonstrating that you are quite
capable; thus, reducing the self-doubts. Or you could counter-
condition or over-ride the anxiety you feel in threatening situations,
using desensitization or relaxation. All these methods might be
effective, regardless of the origin of the feelings of inadequacy. When
the self-help method you first selected doesn't work, however, then a
re-analysis of the causes of the problem might help you select a more
appropriate self-help method. 
Emotional behavior, feelings, physiological responses, and
Emotional reactions: Behavior, feelings, physiological responses,
and attributions
Emotions involve (a) behavior, (b) subjective feelings, and (c)
physiological responses. And, to make matters more complicated, each
of these three aspects is often only slightly correlated with the other
two, i.e. you may (subjectively) feel very tense but not show it overtly
(behaviorally) and not respond internally (physiologically). A person
can feel quite relaxed but have an upset stomach or low back pain and
appear to others as either very laid back or very nervous. All the
combinations are possible. 
Previous page Top Next page

« Back