“The emotions are titanic forces which sway the lives of men, driving them to good and evil. They are the most powerful of all human agencies, and have been well described as giants fighting for the bodies and souls of mankind.” ……………………….. From The Anatomy of Emotion by Edward Lazell, MD 1929.
We like to think we control ourselves with our minds but the truth is that, more often than not, it is our emotions that are in control, not our minds. A quick look at any newspaper or news broadcast shows how powerful the emotions are. Terms such as ‘Road Rage’, “I was driven by anger” “I must have been ‘out of my mind’ when I did that”, clearly illustrate the truth of Lazell’s statement.
“I was under emotional stress” is a popular excuse for one’s bad behavior, ‘being compelled by love’ is another. We have within us immense reserves of Love, Hope, Empathy and Compassion as well as Hate, Greed, Fear, and Anger that will, at the least excuse, rise up to control our day to day behavior.The power of the emotions is unquestioned.
But our emotions do much more then control our behavior. Beyond simply being emotionally touchy or ‘stressed out’ our painful emotions are responsible for a number of serious medical conditions. “When you get your emotional act together, your body will get well” is a popular conviction, and not only among laypersons – because it is true. One of the first to identify the role of emotions in physical health was Socrates who advised the physicians of Athens to: “Heal the soul first” because the ancient Greeks believed that emotions are in a soul-body that permeated the physical body.
Some of these feeling states, such as love and joy feel good but others like fear, embarrassment, shame and anger are painful.
Worse, these painful emotions set off a spasm, the Auto Contractile Pain Reflex (ACPR) that adversely affects the organs and glands in the region where the emotion is felt. Have you ever felt a painful stab in your heart when someone called to tell you that your child was struck by a car? The physical pain of intense grief can be deadly. The Greek Philosopher Isocrates died when his heart stopped from grief when he learned that his lover had been killed at the battle at Chersonesus.[i]
Disorders where ACPR is involved range from
Eating Disorders to Premenstrual Distress to Blocked Sexual Energy to Migraine Headaches.
The idea that contraction causes organs to malfunction is not new. In the 2nd century A. D., Soranus of Ephesus, a leading gynecologist in the Roman Republic, identified constriction as the cause of dysfunctioning organs[ii]and treated them with a range of procedures designed to relax and dilate them.[iii]
Even the simple constricting pain of anxiety interferes with the digestive system; the emotional contractions of deep shame, overwhelming grief and breathtaking fear upset normal functioning more profoundly.
Can SHEN help develop a healthy emotional core?
Developing a good, healthy emotional core
is the most important things we can do for
ourselves, for our family and our society.
[i] Fréré C. The Pathology of Emotions: Physiological and Clinical Studies. London: University Press; 1899:214-5.
[ii] Soranus; Temkin O, trans-ed. Soranus’ Gynecology. Baltimore, Maryland; Johns Hopkins Press; 1956.
[iii] Rubenstein G. The Riddle of the Methodist Method: Understanding a Roman Medical Sect. Dissertation for degree of Doctor of Philosophy. King’s College, Cambridge, England; 1985:122-69. Thesis.