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Oh No! Five New Emotions?


19 January 2010

Oh No! Five New Emotions?

It has been well documented that that all human beings share six basic emotions which are characterized by similar facial expressions. We might survey our friends and family to see who knows precisely what the six are and many of us might come very close. In no particular order, they are: joy, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust.
AKA, the Big Six.
What you may not know is there are other more recently documented emotions which epitomize modern existence. (New Scientist, Five Emotions You Never Knew You Had, 13 January 2010) Some of these are written about everyday: rage, jealously, and even depression. But, according to the New Scientist, there are other more obscure - although important - emotions that help how we cope with modern day challenges. Put it this way, while fight or flight has dominated evolution, and today evil reigns in the mountains of western Asia and the front page of our newspapers are a constant reminder of “conquer or be conquered” – there are other emotions that are more reflective of today than what has been identified with our species over the ages.
What I thought I would do is see how these "modern emotions" relate to diabetes and how they are helping us manage a modern illness. Here’s the five that were explored in the list:
Listed as number one and therefore, pretty important on the scale, I think. Elevation is heartfelt affection and inspiration similar to what Obama supporters must have felt when they “had tears in their eyes, a tingling sensation on the back of their necks and a warm feeling in their chest.” I can also see how we might be struck by a similar sentiment when we watch our children graduate (or achieve anything formidable and relative to our own mortality.) Why does Elevation exist? Often moments of elevation figure prominently in memory. They humanize us.
The uplifting feeling that chokes you up…hmmm, this is supposed to be rare (only felt at maximum once per week). I would bet that people actively engaged with a chronic illness are in touch with this emotion and utilize it to embrace survival. Perhaps it is the way we might interact with one another in a doctor’s waiting room. I’ll give one example – I was talking to a an older person, disabled by amputation of one leg (T2 diabetes) who grabbed my hand and clutching it firmly, said “We’re all one with diabetes - can't give up - can we?” It definitely choked me up and I have never forgotten his face. He reminds me that I cannot simply "wimp" out.
It used to be that “it killed the cat,” and a curious mind was a dangerous tool. But today, interest (as it is so tamely redefined) is the way we keep calm and serenity in the chaos of our world. If we didn’t have interest guiding our choices/decisions we’d wither in a tsunami of information overload. It helps us learn with agility.
This is great news for all you d-bloggers (and our readers) who are sometimes accused of over intellectualizing or overdramatizing illness. Hey, but it allows us to soothe our anxiety and feel better about our future. The news that JDRF is funding an artificial pancreas or that there may be better technology like OMNIPOD coming at super light speed next year - validates it’s true! Information is power and it’s positive! I feel better already!
Although a facial expression has yet to be identified with this one, it has the most important requirement. It motivates a real action! It forces us to react to kindness and when we do, we give almost mechanically. Not necessarily true, one researcher says… this emotion exists because it allows us to connect and develop relationships with people who “get us.” We know (instinctually) they’re in it with us for the long haul.
For me this speaks to the doctor/patient relationship. It’s going that extra mile and really communicating to your doctor (and vice versa) not as an A1c guidepost or a stringent authoritarian but where there is “a give and take, creating an upward spiral of satisfaction in the relationship." If you don't have this... well, you may want to continue looking for the right doctor. If you can afford to see a doctor or if you have coverage, it is the one aspect of your healthcare you can control.
For me pride can be a dirty word. Not so! says one researcher at the University of British Columbia (UBC). There are two kinds: "hubristic pride" (agressive/bad) and "authentic pride" (skillful/good). We're concerned with authentic pride which differs from all the other emotions in that it relates more to the language of the body than the face and it is self-conscious. So, what is its purpose? Authentic pride is related to respect and status. It motivates us to work harder.
This is the easiest for me to relate to because diabetes management requires persistent vigilance, but it is also very results driven and we can tell when results are going to be good because we feel great. In fact, that is the reward - controlled blood sugars make us feel so much better. Of course, it helps when our hard work is recognized by our doctors, nurses, friends and family. It is motivational.
Ah-ha! Finally something that doesn't have an automatic benefit. (Many psychologists don't believe confusion IS an emotion). But Dacher Keltmer, at UC, Berkley does. It has evolved from the same family as surprise and interest and it's purpose is to let us know "that the way we are thinking about things is not working" that there is something flawed or inadequate. Confusion forces us to change.
This feels like more like problem solving, like we do when we cannot understand why a blood sugar reading is high, even though we bolused before eating and in time! Pure trouble-shooting? But I guess when you think about confusion in a larger context, it does make sense. For diabetes, confusion may come when we've outgrown behavior that never served us well in the first place. "Sometimes it may makes us withdraw" but sometimes it forces us to change.

Do you relate to any of these "new and modern" emotions?


Anonymous The poor diabetic said...

A hint of elevation, a dash of curiosity, a touch of gratitude, a heart full of pride and a head full of confusion.
For the love of me, all I can think of is love portion no: 9 and I don't know why.
I can check all these emotions off one after another as a regular basis experience.
emotions are what make us who we are unique or not.
I for one appreciate the fact that I am not the only one going through them in my diabetes management.
Ronald Gregory

1:31 AM  

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