Emotion drives behaviours, not generally a desire for power and control. Emotions are verbs, doing words if you remember your early language lessons, not the nouns which we use to label them. The 8 primary declarative emotions are: 1) Trust – for which you can read “attachment” associated with Bowlby. 2) Disgust to which you can attach several other words including “betrayal”. 3) Anger (plus fight), rage and irritation. 4) Fear (Plus flight / freeze) and include anxiety). 5) Grief plus the words sadness and loss. 6) Joy and the words happiness, contentment and, oh dear! ORGASM. 7) Curiosity / interest / obsession and 8) shock / startle / freeze / “catatonia”. We can illustrate the needs for “attachment” and attention and the mechanisms which are involved via this clip – “The Still face experiment.” A major learning “experience” for all parents of very young children, a a likely point of understanding behaviours resulting from a loss of attention which could be extrapolated into adults, particularly in intimate, couple relationships. Mum’s still face Or just to establish the “attachment responses of both parents, Dad’s still face. A little later you can see the “power” of these simple primary attachment mechanisms with the gorilla.
These are the 8 primary (declarative) emotions as we outline them. How they register and influence the behaviours of each and every individual through their experiences is what we believe and understand needs to be unraveled and understood in each individual. As each individual comes to understand themself better their opportunity to be “in control” of themself rises – Prof Daniel Siegel refers to this process as “to name and tame”. (If you are interested you could read his books on the subject: “The Mind.” and many others.) Thereafter there are, of course many, even very many “melds” of emotional responses which can be troublesome for individuals, in couple relationships jealousy and coping with a multiple, individual interactions are also often troublesome, “predetermined as they so frequently are by the expectations of the families / cultures / religions in which we grew up. Toxic masculinity a result of toxic stress?
So how do we go about this?
An environment in which you are exploring and addressing what can be difficult or very difficult emotional “reactions” needs to be perceived as “safe”. If it is perceived as unsafe, the emotion FEAR and flight intervene – or alternatively fight (and anger) intervene. There will be a very, very limited opportunity to “engage curiosity” and to “explore” under those circumstances. So to help provide a “safe” environment we also have to start by engaging each individual’s “social engagement system” – this is initially done by offering “welcome” and food and drink, and approaching with respect and some caution but not with fear. A marvellous example of this is contained in this moving clip, taken from the animal kingdom for illustrative purposes.
More to come