THE EMOTIONAL DIMENSION
Although the body is composed of several interactive systems, it is also in constant contact with the exterior. The information agents or “senses” translate the exterior signals into nervous impulses – whether images, sounds, odors, tastes or touch – and advice the brain of everything that is happening outside of the body.
Each sense solicits a very precise section of the brain. Once the information is received, the brain registers it, processes it and interprets it.
Sight is without doubt one of the most developed senses of the human body. Indeed, more than 50% of the information received by the brain is originally from visual data. The brain interprets this information and creates the image which we see. Sight allows us then to identify the details, colors and forms, and to follow the movement of an object with our eyes.
Sounds are vibrations, which displace the air. The ear perceives up to 1500 different tones, which is to say that our sense of hearing communicates a great amount of data to the brain.
Intimately linked to the sense of smell, (just pinch your nose, and you’ll realize that you can no longer taste what you have in your mouth) taste allows us to differentiate sweet from salty, sour from bitter. Taste is the result of contact of the tongue, the taste organ, and its thousands of taste buds, with food.
Although our sense of smell is less developed than that of other animals, it differentiates with great subtlety the perfumes that come to our nostrils. Our noses can recognize thousands of substances. The sense of smell, as we know already, is intimately linked to taste.
Skin, the envelope of our body, is in constant contact with the exterior. Touch functions as a natural alarm system. It is an essential sense to our survival, since it is the one sense that indicates warmth, cold, pressure, pain, pleasure – it is the first sense developed in the foetus.
The nervous system creates emotions, but in so doing, it triggers corporal sensations (perspiration, muscular tension, palpitations, etc.) which may become worse. Emotions may create appetite or turn the stomach – the limbic system or emotional cerebrum modifies the functions of the digestive system, disturbs your digestion and provokes vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bulimia, anorexia, intestinal cramps, etc.
Emotions could also disturb the functioning of your circulatory system. Here again the limbic system acts on the hypothalamic and bulbar centers, which control the heart and blood vessels. The emotions thus provoke acceleration or a deceleration in the cardio-vascular system, which, in turn, could induce fainting, hypertension, tachycardia or infarcts. The cardio-vascular system allows the emotions to express themselves through a rush of blood to the face (blushing), by causing a great pallor, palpitations…
The skin is the mirror of our emotions. Some emotional troubles could also engender nervous disorders such as tics or spasms. The hypothalamus receives stimuli triggered by emotions… In the face of fear and for a short time, breathing is interrupted – or accelerated. The limbic system could also modify the functioning of the endocrinal glands, which provokes then some hyper- or hypo-secretion of hormones and alters the immune system (adrenaline flow, mood swings, sexual yearnings, etc.)
The reactions generated by the emotions are expressed through the nervous system: muscular tension from fear or anger, cardiac acceleration linked to excitement, cold sweats created by anguish, etc. Emotions are a means by which the nervous system – and therefore, the person – can reveal or express him, or her self.
Once sorted and analyzed by the limbic system, emotions lead to a physiological reaction (perspiration, coloration, pain, modification of the cardiac rhythm). A particular emotional condition, indeed, is always accompanied by a hormonal condition and a specific reaction of the immune system.
A tense, prolonged and repetitive situation leads to vulnerability, weakens the immune system and could trigger insomnia or illness. Insomnia, loss of appetite, skin infections (eczema, rashes, psoriasis, herpes, hair loss, itching), backaches, cramps, pains in the joints, diminution of the libido, loss of memory, indigestions (spasms, dry mouth, bloating, diarrhea, gastritis, ulcers…), cardio-vascular troubles (palpitations, aches, chest pains, hypertension…), viral and microbial infections caused by a failing immune system could all be attributed to intense emotional distress.
A positive emotional condition (laughter, pleasure, joy, etc.) positively stimulates the immune system. Thus, we perceive events through our senses. Our inner language interprets the information transmitted through our senses and manufactures emotions. However, we must note here that emotions are not the result of the event itself but of the idea, of the belief we have of it, and of its interpretation – these emotions lead to diverse behaviors and/or inhibitions.