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Stormie Talks Emotion:Fear

As writers, we are constantly trying to portray character emotions correctly. I’ve discussed romantic love and anger in previous posts. I want to explore fear today.

This is a reblog of a post I published on another blog. I hope you enjoy it.

What are the emotions that a human being may experience?

According to W. Gerrod Parrot (2001), there are six primary emotions (love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear) which are then comprised of secondary and tertiary emotions. These secondary and tertiary emotions are more specific in scope. For example, the secondary emotions for fear are horror and nervousness. The tertiary emotions for fear/horror are shock, terror, panic, hysteria, alarm and mortification. All of these secondary and tertiary emotions stem from fear. (Click on the highlighted link for a chart.)

What are specific physiological responses associated with each major emotion?

Fear: It is one of the emotions people dislike, yet fear has kept our species alive. Fear, like other emotions, involves a biochemical response to an event, and our interpretation of it. Many of us have heard of the fight or flight response. When we perceive danger our bodies prepare to defend or run away. This reaction was crucial to our ancestor’s survival.

Fear shows up in the body through sweating, spiked adrenaline and amplified heart rate. Initially, we experience an event that is potentially physical dangerous or dangerous to our well-being. The amygdala is responsible for sending the message that we are frightened to our autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls the body’s involuntary actions. It regulates heart rate, and allows the blood vessels to widen or narrow.

This is why our heart rate and blood pressure increase when we are scared. Our breathing quickens. Adrenaline and cortisol are released into our systems. Blood even flows away from the heart, and to our limbs, so that we can react more quickly to danger. Our ability to reason is impaired because the amygdala is sending the fear response to the autonomic nervous system. Many people have the feeling that time slows or feel as if everything is happening in slow motion. Our brains are trying to assess, and catalogue the possible danger we are facing.

Some people become addicted to the adrenaline high they get from their body’s biochemical reaction to fear. Who loves the giant drop on a roller coaster or a really good horror movie? Other people see the biochemical response to fear as something to be completely avoided. Phobias are an extension of this abhorrence of fear’s biochemical reactions, and how they feel in the body.

Now, what about your characters? If you read last week’s post on anger, you will notice the two emotions share some characteristics. Is this why when we are scared we can become violent? If your character is attacked by a vampire (not the nice, romantic kind) will they run or fight?

What scares you? What does fear feel like as it courses through your body? I would love to hear from you on the subject.

Stormie

Stormie Talks Emotion: Anger

This is part two of the emotions series.

As writers, we are constantly trying to portray character emotions correctly. In an attempt to do this, I’ve jumped into the world of human emotion. There are many theorists and theories. In the interest of time and word management, I’ve chosen the human emotion theory of Professor W. Gerrod Parrott, to start my journey.

This is a reblog of a post I wrote on another blog. I decided to share it here.

What are the emotions that a human being may experience?

According to W. Gerrod Parrot (2001), there are six primary emotions (love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear) which are then comprised of secondary and tertiary emotions. These secondary and tertiary emotions are more specific in scope. For example, the secondary emotions for anger are irritation, exasperation, rage, disgust, envy and torment. The tertiary emotions for anger/rage are some emotions you might expect like anger, fury, and wrath. The tertiary emotions for anger/rage also contain more nuanced emotions like bitterness, scorn and resentment. All of these secondary and tertiary emotions stem from anger. (Click on the highlighted link for a chart.)

What are specific physiological responses associated with each major emotion?

The information I found focused on classifying emotions or the study of facial expressions. I will discuss anger today.

Anger: In response to an event, the amygdala in our brains initiated a fight or flight response in our bodies. Our interpretation helps determine the emotion.

I’m spunky character, A. My ex-husband confronts me in my office, and informs me that, in a hostile takeover, he now controls the company my great-great-grandfather built during the Reconstruction Era. What’s going on in my body?

According to Harry Mills, Ph.D., initially, anger will make my body tense. Then a rush of energy floods my system thanks to the neurotransmitter chemical catecholamine. I am ready to protect myself from any immediate danger. (Unless my ex is violent or enjoys tossing around paper-weights and staplers, this is unnecessary.)

While catecholamine is rushing through my system, my heart races, my blood pressure rises and I breathing becomes more rapid. Just in case I need to defend myself, blood enters my limbs, and causes my face to flush. My attention is totally focused on my nemesis. Let’s call him Evil Ex-husband.

By this time, the neurotransmitters and hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline trigger arousal in my body. It causes me to remain angry with my ex for days, and probably fuels the actions that lead to great internal and external conflict.

What do I look like as I face down Evil Ex-husband? If I have a poker face, my features are smooth and blank. Unfortunately, I’m a hot-head. My eyebrows pull down and in, making a crease between them. My eyes narrow and lock onto Evil Ex-husband. My nostrils flair and my lips tighten. I square my body and ball up my fists.

In the seconds in takes all of these chemical and physical responses to happen, I can choose to completely loose it, and smack him or my prefrontal cortex (responsible for judgment) can inject a note of reason, and I can show him the door. Then, I can run for my lawyers.

What other physical reactions have you noticed go hand and hand with anger?

Stormie

Stormie Talks Emotion: Romantic Love

Character emotions are sometimes hard to get exactly right. Emotions and feelings can be subjective and culturally based. Even gender can determine how a character might respond emotionally to a comment or situation. Then there is the entire show the reader, don’t tell the reader portion of writing a story. As an author I thought it would be wise to do some research on human emotion. Mainly I wanted to understand 1) what are the emotions a human being may experience and 2) if there were specific physiological responses to certain emotions that were universal.

This is a reblog of a post I wrote for another website. I thought I would share it here.

What are the emotions that a human being may experience?

There is some scientific debate on the subject. Most theorists have a short list of what they call primary or basic emotions. Their lists can range from two emotions to eleven or more. These theorists believe that as we experience events we may combine one or two emotions to create emotions beyond basic joy and anger. For example, according to certain theorists, anger plus disgust equals contempt.

According to W. Gerrod Parrot (2001), there are six primary emotions (love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear) which are then comprised of secondary and tertiary emotions. These secondary and tertiary emotions are more specific in scope. For example, the secondary emotions for love are affection, lust and longing. The tertiary emotions for love/lust include arousal, desire, lust, passion and infatuation. (Click on the highlighted link for a chart.)

What are specific physiological responses associated with each major emotion?

This is where the real research began. The information I found focused on classifying emotions or the study of facial expressions. I will discuss romantic love today.

Romantic Love: With emotion we realize that we are responding to stimuli – in this case – the object of our affection. We see and interact with someone and suddenly there is an attraction, longing, and maybe lust. We have assessed this person unconsciously through sight, sound, smell, touch and maybe taste if we are lucky. Our bodies, those wonderful machines, will begin to use those handy neurotransmitters adrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin and testosterone to lure us in for a night or a lifetime.

But what does love feel like in our bodies? Initially, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin take over and we may feel sweaty, light headed, and preoccupied with the other person. Our hearts race, our mouths may become dry when our love interest is near. We have too much energy and we can’t sleep. We may feel lust. We are deep in attraction.

Oxytocin and vasopressin take over if the bond is strong. We are urged to cherish and protect. These hormones keep the physiological effects we experienced in the attraction and lust phase going when we see our partner. After twenty years our heart still races, our eyes still dilate, we still want to touch. We think about our partner with worry and affection if we are away from each other too long. We are in love.

Well, at least our characters are in love. What other physical reactions have you noticed go hand and hand with romantic love?

Stormie

Guest Blog Update: Emotions Pt. 1

Human Emotion

We give our characters human emotion and the emotion drives their motivation. What are human emotions and how do they feel as we experience them? I am blogging about the subject at  SNSD today. Join the discussion at Sweet n Sexy Divas.

http://www.sweetnsexydivas.blogspot.com/2012/07/emotion-part-1.htmlStormie