“How Emotions Are Made“ is yet another weird book with a promising title, written for someone without any knowledge of science, its methods and branches. Possibly for those of us who skipped biology classes in school and haven’t read anything about neuroscience ever since?
The message of the book: we don’t know what, where or how emotions are made. But, the author has a hypothesis, much in line with current fashion: emotions are constructed by culture (nurture), because languages around the world differ in how they describe them.
The author, Lisa Feldman Barrett, follows up with a mishmash of contradictions like:
Any practical advice?
Sure. Construct happy thoughts (even when bombed in a war zone), inherit good genes and real estate, cook healthy food, take a walk in a democracy, keep an FSC-certified gratitude journal and, of course, meditate!
This book might have been titled “Science Doesn’t Know How Emotions are Made — But babies learn to name and classify emotions from their caregivers… whose vocabulary size correlates with babies’ emotional granularity, EQ or whatever you want to call it, as long as it’s not essentialist, oh, and our lifestyle constructs our emotional worlds, like, being poor in a high-crime neighborhood is bad for you, did you know that?”
Worse, the self-contradictory opus is written in a cringe-worthy, kill-joy style of “Get ready for that twist I mentioned at the beginning of the chapter”.
But what do I know?
Mine’s just an opinion of a trilingual who’d “culturally constructed” 3 variants of each of his emotions, augmented by the professional “emotional granularity” of a film director. And someone who should’ve Google Scholared the author’s publications before reading this book… to skip it altogether. 🤦🏻♂️
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