Tuesday, 4 November 2014

All about The Human Emotion


The word emotion comes from the Latin term 'Emovere' which means - to set in motion. As the etymology implies, emotions are energy or physical sensations associated with thoughts in our mind which move through our body. Simply put E-motion is Energy in motion.

In our lives we all have experienced a wide array of emotions right from happiness to sorrow, anger, fear, surprise, etc. As we can distinguish between these emotions it implies that the distribution of emotional energy within our mind and body is different - either in the amount of energy being distributed or in the direction it is distributed or both. Even the vibrational frequency of the emotional energy makes a huge difference. Everything in the world we see manifested as form and phenomena are vibrations, each with a different vibrational frequency. For example water has one and when its turns to ice it has different vibrations. The vibrations again change when it turns to vapour. Macroscopic images below show how particles in gas vibrate and move freely at high speeds when compared to liquids and solids.

gas particles
Gas particles
liquid particles
Liquid particles
solid particles
Solid particles
So its no surprise that even our physical body, its cells, organs and tissues vibrate at a precise frequency. The emotions of peace, love, happiness, excitement, security and gratitude have higher vibrations which are in harmony with our physical vibrations and thus support general well-being. However emotions of anger, fear, sadness hold lower vibrations which are not in sync with our physical vibrations and cause impedance to our health. Now our thoughts too have energy so can we not direct this intellectual energy to override the effect of emotions? The answer to it is that our heart emits a stronger electro-magnetic force than the brain hence the brain becomes coherent with the vibrations of the heart. So even if we are intellectually editing ourselves our true emotions are still being broadcast throughout our body and arguably beyond it too. That's the reason why health is not a matter of just having happy/positive thoughts but actually being happy at the subconscious level. Now that we know the importance of emotions, let's understand how we feel them and what happens in our body when we feel them.


To understand how emotions work we must first know about the special structures in our brain which are evolved to comphrend emotions. Its only then we can understand how they impact the internal organs using the autonomous nervous system and also overall health by chemical signals to cells of our immune system.

Emotions and nervous system
Emotion involves the entire nervous system, of course.  But there are two parts of the nervous system that are especially significant:  The limbic system and the autonomic nervous system.
Human brain has emerged to its present form in 3 distinct layers of evolution.
  1. The reptilian brain is the oldest (forms the central core) and is used for self preservation.
  2. The limbic system emerged in mammals (marked in red in the image) is responsible for  emotions.
  3. The neocortex emerged with the primates and is our conscious brain used for intellectual tasks like reading this article.
The brain’s limbic system is the seat of emotions. Different organs within our limbic system like the olfactory bulbs, hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, cingulate gyrus and several other nearby areas recognize the patterns of events in our life and respond. Even bodily sensations trigger impulses to the insula in the limbic system. All these signals trigger emotions, which instantly decide our attitudes and modify our behavior. The limbic system swiftly and continually switches control from one group of emotions to another. At any point in time, a single family of emotions rules, actively inhibiting conflicting objectives. Love subdues the onset of anger. These emotions micromanage the fluidity of muscle movements, facial expressions and the choice and tone of words using the peripheral nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) has two components: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system which operates on a subconscious level and is regulated by the hypothalamus. It regulates pulse, blood pressure and breathing and is also responsible in controling functions of internal organs and glands which secretes harmones and is involved in our ability to experience emotions.
As shown in the adjoining figure activation of the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for action - increased blood flow to the muscles and other responses known as "fight-or-flight (just like the gas pedal in a car) whereas the parasympathetic nervous system functions when body is at rest and can be compared to the break pedal, which helps the body store energy for future use.
For smooth functioning both operate in sync, example during exercise the sympathetic nervous system increases heart rate whereas after exercise the parasympathetic nervous system helps to slow down the heart rate. However emotions like anger, anxiety or worry can cause the signals going to these two parts of the ANS to get out of sync with each other. This can be likened to one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the break simultaneously which causes jerky rides and burns more fuel. This kind of disharmony between the two branches of ANS causes a lot of stress, wear and tear on our body and depletes its energy. Prolonged imbalance causes high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Emotions and the immune system
Emotions originate as distinctive patterns of nerve impulses also trigger neurochemical event. With every charged thought we think, there is a release of miniscule neuropeptides - chemical proteins  that function as neuromodulators in the nervous system and as hormones in the endocrine system. They trigger a specific physiological response to try to keep our overall system in homeostatis. These peptides that flood our bodies are, in fact, the molecules of emotion. Emotions thus form the key to understanding psychoimmunology's emerging picture of how body and mind affect each other. For example, it's through the emotion-modulating peptides that an embarrassing thought can cause blood vessels to dilate and turn a face beet red. In the same way, the molecules of emotion can mobilize immune cells to destroy an incipient tumor. Negative thoughts rooted from fear, are associated with inflammation and tissue break-down (catabolism). While positive thoughts rooted in love, are associated with anti-inflammatory chemicals and tissue regeneration and repair.

Examples of neuropeptides are endorphins like the ones released when we have sex or go for a jog, and other hormones, like oxytocin, the natural ‘love’ drug, adrenaline, the natural drug of excitement and fear, cortisol, the hormone of stress, and so on. There are dozens of these neuropeptides being released at any given moment. Neurochemicals such as dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin are important components of the limbic system. The adjoining figure shows their correspondence to 8 basic emotions. Example - Anger is combination of low serotonin, high dopamine and high noradrenaline.

So we know that our experience, physical or emotional, releases peptides. But once these peptides have been released, what do they do? They start swimming and fan out toward hundreds or thousands of receptor cells. The major components of the immune system, leukocytes (white blood cells), function in a dynamic chemical environment involving messenger molecules of the nervous, exocrine, and endocrine systems.

A cell receptor
The peptides travel through our extra-cellular fluids often in areas with no electrical neurons and hook up with specific, highly selective receptors located on cells as 'ligands' . Once attached, they impart molecular messages that enter the cell through the tail and can dramatically impact our physiological functioning at the cellular and systemic levels. In the adjoining figure the cell membrane is shown in blue with the extracellular cell receptor with ligand (shown in purple) and the 'tail' within the cell. The receptor, having received a message, transmits it from the surface of the cell deep into the cell’s interior, where the message can change the state of the cell dramatically. A chain reaction of biochemical events is initiated as tiny machines roar into action and, directed by the message of the ligand, begin any number of activities – manufacturing new proteins, making decisions about cell division, opening or closing ion channels, adding or subtracting energetic chemical groups such as the phosphates – to name just a few. In short, the life of the cell, what it is up to at any moment, is determined by which receptors are on its surface, and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not.

On a more global scale, these minute physiological phenomena at the cellular level can translate to large changes in behavior, physical activity, even aging (see adjoining image). They can impact everything from how efficiently our metabolism runs, to how we digest food, to whether or not we are vulnerable to a cold or virus and also how our gene are expressed.

The kicker, of course, is this: How much of a particular peptide we have available and active in our body is directly impacted by, among other things, our emotional experiences.


The very nature of energy is movement. Positive emotions have few specific outward reactions; rather they act in the service of homeostasis, restoring quiescence. Negative emotions cause specific outward reactions; like anger calls to mind the urge to attack, fear the urge to escape, disgust the urge to expel, and so on. However such instinctive reaction to emotions is socially not acceptable. Hence we mask them with an intellectual response. In such case when emotions are repressed, denied, not allowed to be whatever they may be, our network pathways get blocked, stopping the flow of the vital feel-good unifying chemicals that run both our biology and our behavior. When we bury or control such feelings, their energy can't flow outward properly and dissipate naturally. We may think you have controlled how we felt, but the energy of it is still at work as it is now directed inward and exist in the subconscious waiting to seek expression mostly in the form of diseases as mentioned in my previous article.