This copy is for educational purposes


Chapters 8 - 11


Before looking at how the phenomenon of
emotion might fit into the fabric or matrix
of the structure of reality, let's look at
some of the stuff this phenomenon is made of.
That is, given that emotion is a multifaceted
phenomenon, what are its facets? What are its
dimensions? And what language are we going to
use to discuss these dimensions?

Dictionaries define emotion roughly as a
state of consciousness in which feelings such
as love, anger or sadness are experienced,
usually accompanied by certain physiological
changes, such as increased heartbeat or
respiration, and often overtly expressed in
the behavior of shaking, crying, or the like.
In short, it is (1) a state of consciousness
with (2) physiological changes and (3)
behavioral expressions. While this definition
serves the purpose of establishing that we
are talking about roughly the same phenomenon
when we use the term, it is incomplete and
lacks rigor. It makes no reference to
whatever it is that triggers emotion (to what
psychologists call stimulus), nor does it
offer any explanation of the dynamic
relationships that exist between the above-
stated dimensions.

Most theories regard emotion as a dynamic
process. The nature of this process, however,
is poorly understood-- even today--and none
of the theories yet offered have gained
general acceptance. One reason for this, as
Strongman (1978), Arnold (1970a) and others
have said, is that none of the theories
addresses all of the phenomena encountered in
the realm of emotion nor accounts for all the
empirical data which has been gathered. Each
study, each theory, focuses on very different
aspects of emotion.
Dalbir Bindra (1970) offers an overview of
traditional psychological research and
suggests that the various experimental
approaches to the study of emotion can be
broken down into four areas: (1) those which
recognize emotion as a feeling experience--as
subjectively reported by humans and as
inferred by humans about other humans and
about animals; (2) those which recognize
emotion as an inner response (arousal), that
is, as changes in internal bodily processes
produced by environmental stimuli; (3) those
which recognize emotion as an outer response
(action), that is, as overt, observable
behavior produced by environmental stimuli;
and (4)those which focus on the stimuli that
generate emotional responses. Throughout the
history of this research focus has been on
external stimuli--external physical or social
events that may trigger emotion; little
consideration has been given to the
exploration--or even the recognition--of
internal stimuli. It is interesting to note
that the first three categories of study
outlined by Bindra correspond with the three
aspects of emotion described in dictionary

The language we use to discuss emotion is
still at a very primitive level of
development. There is virtually no agreement
on the use of any of the terms that have been
offered by various authors over the past
century. We have not even been able to come
to an agreement on the distinction to be
made, if any, between the terms "feeling" and

There have been three international
symposiums focusing explicitly on emotion:
the Wittenberg Symposium on Feelings and
Emotions in 1927; the Mooseheart Symposium on
Feelings and Emotions in 1948; and the Loyola
Symposium on Feelings and Emotions in 1970.
One of the issues addressed in the first
symposium was the distinction to be made
between feelings and emotions. Ed Claparede,
of the University of Geneva, said that

the psychology of affective [emotional]
processes is the most confused chapter in all
psychology. Here it is that the greatest
differences appear from one psychologist to
another. They are in agreement neither on the
facts nor on the words. Some call feelings
what others call emotions. Some regard
feelings as simple, ultimate, un-analyzable
phenomena, similar always to themselves,
varying only in quantity. Some, on the
contrary, believe that the range of feelings
includes an infinity of nuances, and that
feeling always forms a part of a more complex
whole, in exhibition or in condition. (1928,
p. 124)

Claparede’s own position is that emotion is a
mixture of adaptive and maladaptive
responses; the more intense the emotion, the
more disorganizing (and, therefore,
maladaptive) is its effect in our lives. He
considers feeling, on the other hand, to be a
useful and adaptive response; emotion erupts
only after the adaptive response of feeling
is frustrated.

Eugene Gendlin (1973, 1978), who developed a
process of self-therapy which he calls
Focusing, introduces the term felt meaning to
represent "a special kind of internal bodily
awareness"; or one's "inner experiencing,"
and makes distinctions between felt meaning,
feeling and emotion. John Welwood, long-time
research associate of Gendlin and teacher of
the Focusing process, clarifies these

Life situations usually mean something more
to us than the specific feelings and emotions
they may give rise to. This "something more"
is sensed holistically in terms of "felt
meaning." Felt meanings are more global than
our usual feelings and emotions, and can thus
lead to new ways of understanding our life
Feelings are more recognizable than felt
meanings. Many feelings are quite familiar to
us, such as sadness, gladness, friendliness,
or hostility, though not every feeling is
clearly definable or nameable. However, even
an indescribable feeling is felt as a
particular "something." We can sense that it
is, even if we do not know what it is…
Emotion is an intense form of feeling.
Whereas feeling can be fairly mild or vague,
emotion is extremely strong and specific. A
feeling of fear may lurk in the background of
the mind without a specific object, whereas
the emotion of fear or terror is an
unmistakable reaction to something very
specific. . . . (1979b, pp. 144-146)
Others have attempted to establish for
themselves a distinction between feeling and
emotion, for example, William McDougall
(1928), F. Drueger (1928), H. F. Harlow and
R. Stagner (1933), L. Klages (1950), M.
Pradines (1958) and Nagda Arnold (1968).
We've had little apparent success in arriving
at a consensus of opinion regarding this
distinction; indeed, each attempt to clarify
the issue seems only to add to the number of
kinds of distinctions that can be made.
Arnold points to the additional complexities
encountered when interpreting the work of
authors in languages other than English:
. . . Some of the differences of opinion and
emphasis between writers . . . can be traced
to differences in the meaning carried by the
words for emotion. The German word Gefuhl
means both feelings and emotions and has
usually a positive significance; for
instance, a Gefuhlsmensch is a man of heart.
The word for acute emotional episodes,
Gefuhlsaufwallung, can be either positive or
negative. In contrast, the French emotion has
the force of a rather negative emotional
upset, with passion as its positive
counterpart; and sentiment is the term for
feelings in the broad sense. in English,
emotion is taken by most contemporary
psychologists as the basic affective process,
while "feelings" are usually restricted to
pleasantness and unpleasantness, at least in
professional writings; in some cases,
"affect" is used as a generic term, including
both. feelings and emotions. Perhaps it will
help to remember that the term "feeling" is
used in a much broader sense in literary and
colloquial English; in the German Gefuhl and
the French sentiment are close to this
broader usage. (1968, p. 10)
I have found it necessary to use "feeling" in
this broader, literary sense. Accordingly, I
use the term to represent all the sensations
and impressions--with the exception of
thought, vision, hearing and smell--that an
organism is capable of registering within its
conscious awareness--including emotion, inner
and outer physical impressions, meta-physical
sensations (such as expanding or contracting
in physical size or floating out of the
body), and so-called "psychic" impressions.
Regarding the relationship between feeling
and emotion, I see emotion as but one of the
many experiences one can feel. That is, all
emotion is feeling (if not suppressed); not
all feeling is emotion.
I distinguish between feeling and emotion in
yet another way. I tend to use the term
"emotion" in talking about the theoretical
aspects of emotion, while I often use
"feeling" or "emotional feeling" to talk
about the actual experience of emotion. This
appears to be in accord with everyday usage,
which is what I aim for in all cases. For
example, when inquiring about someone's inner
state of being, one is inclined to ask "How
are you feeling?" or "What are you feeling?"
rather than "What emotion are you
experiencing?" Also, phrasing the question in
terms of feeling has the advantage that a
person can choose to respond according to
whatever sensations or experiences are
paramount at the moment--which may or may not
be emotional.
When listening to others, of course, I must
interpret the meaning of the terms feeling
and emotion each time I hear them, just as I
do with terms like "mind," "psychological,"
and "ego."
We must allow for two qualitatively different
kinds of language where emotion is concerned.
On the one hand there is the language that
one uses to talk about emotion, such as I am
doing in writing this book; on the other,
there is the language one uses to express
actual emotion; this language is a direct
expression (and extension) of one's present
emotional experience.

Each of these languages serves different
purposes and functions in different ways.
And, accordingly, each operates according. to
different principles. The language we use to
talk about emotion reflects and maintains our
beliefs about the nature of emotion. This
language needs to be as precise and as
consistent as possible. It is necessarily
objective and derives primarily from left-
brain activities. It tends to be
"scientific." Parts 2 and 3 of this book
stand as my attempt to clarify this language
for myself.


The language we use to express actual emotion
is far different. Necessarily subjective, it
derives primarily from right-brain
activities. In the process of facilitating
the realization and expression of emotional
experiences within others, I have identified
some of the characteristics of this language:

• You must be in communication with
yourself before you can communicate with
others. That is, you can't express
what you feel if you don't know what you
feel. Communicating with(in) yourself
requires that you accept your
own language--at least at the outset--
modifying it later, if necessary, to make it
understandable to others.
• When it comes to the verbal
expression of emotion, each of us has a
unique vocabulary rooted in her or his
paradigm. That is, each word in one's
vocabulary has its own unique emotional
meaning. A challenge facing each of
us is literally to come to terms with one
another where emotional communication is
• It is internally inconsistent to
suggest on the one hand that you let go of
self-control emotionally, while at the same
time insisting that you employ self-control
intellectually by conforming to a prescribed
language. In order to allow emotional energy
to flow freely, it is necessary to let go of
limiting intellectual activities. Attempting
to find "just the right words" often prevents
you from saying anything, thus keeping you
imprisoned in your own trap. Furthermore,
when emotional energy is flowing freely you
are seldom at a loss for words; they come of
their own accord. Consider, for example, the
last time you really blew up at somebody.
• It is common for a person to regress
to childhood patterns of speech when
expressing emotional pain that has been
suppressed since childhood. Indeed, it is
possible (as described in my discussion of
emotional memory) to regress to an age prior
to the acquisition of language. An example of
regression to childhood speech patterns is a
25-year-old Japanese man with whom I met
weekly for several months. This man lived
with his immigrant parents who had never
learned to speak English. He felt ashamed of
his heritage; he wanted to be accepted as an
American, not Japanese. One of the many ways
he attempted to reject this heritage was to
refuse, at a very early age, to speak
Japanese; he spoke immaculate English,
comparable to a news broadcaster, and
believed that he had long ago lost his
ability to speak Japanese. When he became
angry at his father during our sessions,
however, he would burst into fluent Japanese.
• Much emotional expression is
nonverbal—although vocal--such as crying,
moaning, sighing, screaming, cooing and
growling. Much emotional expression is both
nonverbal and nonvocal. Indeed, contrary to
common practice in Janov's primal therapy, a
person's most profound emotional pain is
often experienced with no vocalization
whatsoever. In such situations, physical
expression becomes very dramatic: the face
becomes frozen into a mask of pain; the body
becomes rigid and distorted. Sometimes this
behavior resembles--both inwardly and
outwardly--the process of vomiting in very
slow motion.
• Every emotional state is unique. We
can be as specific or as general as we choose
in expressing ourselves emotionally; indeed,
therein lies much of the magic of poetry and

Rather than imposing an elaborate system of
terms and language in the actual expression
of emotion, then, I have found it more
productive to develop and clarify the
underlying frame of reference within one can
move emotionally.

What is the purpose, if any, of emotion in
the over-all scheme of life? What role does
it play? What function does it serve? Little
formal research has been done to explore
these questions directly. For that matter,
how does one even structure the research
design to explore them? There has been a fair
amount of speculation among authors in the
field, however, and a number of issues have
been raised.
The rationalists--from the Stoics to
Descartes-- focused their attention on
conscious, intense emotional states,
particularly those capable of strongest
expression, such as rage or jealousy. Stress
on such tangible, extreme manifestations of
emotion led them to conclude that emotion is
basically a disorganizing influence on
behavior. Descartes held that humans have the
potential for rational behavior; he held also
that we must minimize our primitive emotional
elements to achieve this rational behavior.
He viewed animals as having simply an
environmental input and a bodily output. In
humans, reason--or choice, which he equates
with reason--intervenes. Thus emotion, which
also intervenes between stimulus and
response, causes the organism's response to
be less rational than it would be if reason
holds the emotional elements in check.

J. B. Watson (1929), considered to be the
father of behaviorism, offered the first of
the behaviorist theories of emotion.
Observing emotional behavior in human
infants, he postulated that there are three
types of fundamental emotional reactions--
fear, rage and love. He further distinguished
between emotiona1 and instinctive reactions
by proposing that an emotional stimulus
shocks an organism into a state of chaos--at
least for a brief period of time. On this
basis he concluded that emotion is

E. Duffy (1941) developed a behaviorally-
oriented theory of motivation. According to
Duffy, all behavior is motivated; without
motivation there would be no activity.
Furthermore, what we call emotion is simply
an extreme of motivation (or energy). She
argues that there are no criteria for
determining when behavior is extreme enough
to be called emotional, since emotion-
producing behavior does not differ in kind
from other behavior. In this context Duffy
sees all emotion to be disorganizing; this
disorganization, however, is a function of
behavior which occurs at very high or at very
low energy levels. Since disorganization is
also found at energy levels not extreme
enough to be normally called emotion,
however, she suggests the term be dropped
from scientific usage.

Dalbir Bindra (1969) offers a
neurophysiological theory of emotion and
motivation. Like Duffy, he begins by denying
that any useful distinction can be made
between emotion and motivation; he speaks
instead of "biologically useful actions." He
suggests that both emotional and motivational
phenomena can best be accounted for in terms
of one construct--that of the central motive
state (CMS). A single set of processes are
thus hypothesized to account for emotion and

The occurrence of emotion has often been
thought to depend on external stimuli,
whereas that of motivation has been seen to
depend on internal stimuli. CMS analysis puts
these together. Furthermore, emotional
behavior has often been thought to be
disorganized and motivational behavior to be
organized. CMS analysis implies, according to
Bindra, that both types of behavior can be
organized or disorganized.

Most authors in the field support the idea--
directly or indirectly--that emotion has an
organizing influence on the organism; that it
serves to adapt the organism to the demands
of living in the world.
Despite his stoical heritage; Darwin (1872)
was among the first to recognize any
positive, functional value to emotion in the
lives of humans and animals. Emotion, he
suggested, is an appropriate reaction to
life-threatening situations and, indeed,
increases the organism's chances of survival.
One way in which emotion accomplishes this is
by conveying the organism's intentions to
others in advance of the intended act.
Harvey Carr (1928) supported and expanded on
Darwin's thesis:
. . . For purposes of exposition, the various
activities of an organism may be divided into
two classes: (1) The first class, which may
be termed the intelligent activities, are
those which are primarily concerned with the
adaptation of the organism to its objective
environment. In an emotional situation, they
would embrace the apprehension of the nature
and significance of the exciting situation,
danger for example, and the overt reaction of
the organism to that situation on the basis
of this appraisal. (2) The second group
embraces the vital, the vegetative, the
autonomic, or the somatic activities which
are primarily concerned with the maintenance
of the structural and functional integrity of
the organism. They are concerned with the
intake, transformation, distribution, and
assimilation of energy and the elimination of
the waste products involved in its

An emotion, according to the orthodox
doctrine, represents an instinctive end
biologically useful interaction between these
two classes of organic activities. The
stimulating situation of danger, for example,
also excites a distinctive set of changes or
alterations on the part of the on-going
somatic activities whereby the reserve stores
of energy are released, mobilized, and
distributed to the reacting mechanisms
involved in flight, and the waste products
involved in this greater expenditure of
energy are more quickly eliminated. In other
words, the vital or somatic activities are
readjusted so as to. promote a more vigorous,
sustained, and effective response to the
stimulating situation. . . .
An emotion may thus be provisionally defined
as a somatic readjustment which is
instinctively aroused by a stimulating
situation and which in turn promotes a more
effective adaptive response to that
situation; and it is assumed that this
greater efficiency is sufficient to increase
materially the chances for the organism's
survival in those primitive conditions of
life that obtained while this instinctive
reaction was evolved. (1928, pp. 228-229)
A number of authors have suggested that
emotion has an organizing, adaptive influence
on behavior due to the impetus emotion gives
the organism to act. Among the authors who
support this view are: Leeper (1948), Arnold
(1950), Lindsley (1947), Young (19611, Bindra
(1969), Pribram (1970), Plutchik (1947) and
Stanley-Jones (1970)--to name a few.
Leeper (1948) defines emotion, as I do, as
being aroused most of the time--if allowed.
Rather than having a disorganizing influence
on the organism, Leeper suggests that emotion
pervades all behavior by motivating it and
organizing it.
Arnold (1950) also defines emotion in terms
of motivation. He sees a continuous process
running from perception to emotion to action;
in this model emotion functions as a
mediator, providing the organism with a felt
tendency to act:

…We can now define emotion as
the felt tendency towards anything appraised
as “good” (beneficial), or away from anything
intuitively appraised as “bad” (harmful).
This attraction or aversion is accompanied by
a pattern of physiological changes organized
toward approach or withdrawal. The patterns
differ for different emotions. (1960, Vol.1

Lindsley's (1947) theory, like Duffy's, is
based on the concept of arousal. Unlike
Duffy, however, Lindsley uses
neurophysiological terms rather than
behavioral terms. He suggests that arousal
mechanisms, i.e., motivation mechanisms,
underlie emotion. Young (1961) does not speak
of emotion per se; rather, he speaks of
affective processes, which he regards as
varying in sign, intensity and duration. He
sees the essential role of such processes as
being motivational, having a regulatory
influence on behavior. Pribram's (1970)
theory is quite similar to Arnold's and
Leeper's theories and draws on
neurophysiological evidence for support.
Pribram proposes that emotions are Plans,
"neural programs which are engaged when the
organism is disequilibrated, . . . These
mechanisms of emotion are of two sorts. One
tends to open, the other to close, the
organism to further input. In either case,
however, the orderly progression of the
growth of the Plan being executed is brought
to a halt. If the 'hangup' goes on for any
length of time because it continues to be
unfeasible to execute the Plan in its present
form, then earlier, more rudimentary
organizations become engaged in an attempt to
“get the organism moving again" (pp. 41-43)."
Stanley- Jones (1970) sees only two primary
emotions --love and hate. These emotions are
founded on the physiological reactions of
lust and rage and, as such, are the basis for
organizing all behavior.

Plutchik's (1970) theory is essentially
biological in nature. He examines three
"languages" of emotion: (1) language evolving
from people's own reports about their
feelings, which he tends to distrust; (2)
behavioral language, i.e., language evolving
through our attempts to describe what emotion
looks like from the outside; and (3)
functional i.e., language that describes
emotion in terms of its ability to help
manage the environment to assure survival
(1980, pp. 69-70). In this context, Plutchik
views emotion as a bodily reaction serving
one or more of eight prototypical behavior
patterns or adaptive functions: protection,
destruction, incorporation, rejection,
reproduction, reintegration, orientation and


In (1948) Leeper suggests that emotion acts
as a motive; in (1970) he extends his idea of
emotion to function not only as motive, but
also as perception. By this he means that
emotion is cognitive; it conveys information
to the organism. In this paradigm, emotion,
motivation and perception are aspects of one
inseparable process; emotion thus organizes,
sustains and directs behavior.
I support Leeper’s idea of emotional
perception. I suggest further the possibility
that whatever mechanisms are involved in the
organism's emotional perception of its own
self are also capable of perception of
another organism's emotional energy state. On
the neurophysiological level, I'm suggesting
that emotional energy does indeed contain
emotional information--just as the coherent
light reflecting off the object in holography
contains information about the physical shape
of the object--and that this emotional
information can be transmitted and received
by all living organisms, with varying degrees
of awareness and articulation.
While using vastly different terms to express
the same idea, many authors place emotion at
the center of the organism's consciousness
and attribute to it the capability of
monitoring the organism's internal and
external environments with global awareness.
In challenging the James-Lange peripheral
(nervous system) theory, Ed Claparede writes,
for example:

. . . Emotion is nothing other than the
consciousness of a form, of a "Gestalt," of
these multiple organic impressions. In other
words, the emotion is the consciousness of a
global attitude of the organism.
. . . In the case of emotional perception, we
know well that it is more useful to know the
total attitude of the body than the
elementary sensations composing the whole.
There must be for an individual no great
interest in perceiving the detail of internal
sensations. What is above all important to an
organism is action. (1928, pp. 124-126)
Along a similar vein, John Welwood talks
about felt meaning in terms of holographic
The structure of a hologram provides an
analogy for what we experience when we refer
to our "inner experiencing," which Gendlin
(1962) has described in terms of "felt
meaning." If you ask yourself how you feel
now, what you get when you first refer
inwardly to your felt sense of your present
situation, is a blurry whole. Or try
referring to your inner felt sense of a
person in your life. What is your overall
feeling about your father, your whole sense
of him? Let yourself feel the whole quality
of your relationship to him, without
concentrating on specific thoughts or images.
Notice that this whole sense has no definite
form, but is a very global "feel quality." If
what came to mind first was a particular
image, see if you can let it broaden out into
a blurry whole felt sense.
Felt meaning can be seen as an experiential
manifestation of holographic compression,
where many bits of information function all
together as a whole. For example, go back to
your felt sense of your father. Now notice
that not only can you have this global sense
of him apart from any particular image,
memory, emotion or thought about him, but
also your felt sense actually includes all of
the ways you have ever experienced or
interacted with him. This felt sense is like
a holographic record of all the aspects of
your relationship to him (interference
patterns). All of your joys, hurts,
disappointments, appreciations, angers--all
of your whole experience with him is
holographically compressed in this one felt

Some authors have identified an underlying
polarity of positive and negative emotion
that functions at a very basic level to guide
the organism their toward or away from the
stimulating event, thus enhancing its
survival. Several different dimensions or
continuums have been suggested. McDougall
(1923) was among the first; he suggested that
there are two basic feelings--pleasure and
pain, and that these feelings modify all our
goal-directed behavior. He held that the
capacity to move toward pleasurable,
desirable goals and away from painful,
undesirable goals is basic to all behavior.
Arnold (1950) suggests that we evaluate
everything we encounter. This evaluation
moves us to approach anything appraised as
"good,” to avoid what is "bad," and to ignore
what is "indifferent," as described in her
definition of emotion on page 189. In
summary, emotion is seen by some to be
disorganizing and maladaptive, bringing only
disorder and confusion into the life of the
organism--resulting in a faulty adaptation to
the environment. Others argue that emotion is
an organizing, adaptive force, bringing
order, motivation and direction into the life
of the organism--resulting in a better
adaptation to the environment and,
accordingly, a better chance of survival.

Some see emotion as a mode or form of
perception. Others place emotion at the very
center of all perception and attribute to it
the capability and function of monitoring and
evaluating all impressions (information)
impinging upon the organism--from within and
from without. Still others have suggested
that emotion serves to communicate the inner
state of the organism to others--if allowed.
Darwin, as I said before, saw emotional
expression as a form of communication--
providing the organism with a mechanism for
conveying its intentions to others in advance
of the act.

Part of the confusion about the
organizing/disorganizing aspects of emotion,
it seems to me, is a result of differing
ideas about the roles of organization and
disorganization in life: disorganization is
not always “bad" or undesirable per se; nor
is organization always “good” or desirable.
The image of a "well-organized" prison camp
serves to demonstrate this point. It is
possible to run a prison camp with such a
threat of punishment for disobedience looming
in the air that every inmate behaves in
perfect accordance with the prison rules. A
visitor to such a camp might be impressed
with how well the camp is organized, and with
how cooperative and "happy" the inmates
appear to be. There are a number of problems
with this model when applied to society at
large. There is no place for individual
expression; there is no space for growth or
change; there are no constructive channels
for dissension; and it is governed by fear.
Disregarding the needs of each individual in
this way, it is inherently destructive to
life. Organization in this instance is
enforced upon the organisms totally from
without. As such it is unstable and doomed to
ultimate failure. This, of course, is the
major weakness of the Marxist philosophy of

The I Ching, which focuses a great deal on
concepts of organization and change, points
to the existence of two kinds of
organization: that evolving from within and
that enforced from without. These
organizational forces interact with each
other constantly--sometimes in harmony and
sometimes in conflict. Consider the model of
a seedling in the process of growth: its
shoot expands upward through the soil to
reach the surface; its roots reach deeper
into the earth. Sprouts and roots behave in
the ways they do because of the internal
organization within the organism. Should a
sprout or a root encounter an obstruction in
its path--organization enforced from
without--the organism alters its internal
organization to accommodate the external
limitation and redirects its path around the
periphery of the obstacle. In this instance,
organization enforced from without impressed
the organism such that it reorganized its
internal processes to accommodate the
externally enforced order.

One last point about disorganization: in
order for any system to undergo change, the
original order must become disorganized at
some point along the way in order for the new
order to emerge. Consider, for example, the
innards of the caterpillar, which liquefy
during metamorphosis in order to reform into
innards suitable for a butterfly.


Darwin (1872) and James (1884) were among the
to examine the relationship between the
physical body and
emotion. While Darwin focused his attention
on the outward
expression of emotion, James focused on the
expression," i.e., the physiological
,correlates of emotion.
A graphic representation of his theory is
shown in figure 6.

Figure 6. Diagram of the neural connections
in James's theory.

Unable to accept a metaphysical idea of
emotion, James argued that emotion was a
purely physical phenomenon --nothing more
than consciousness of peripheral changes in
the organism:
I now proceed to urge the vital point of my
whole theory, which is this. If we fancy some
strong emotion, and then try to abstract from
our consciousness of it all the feelings of
its characteristic bodily symptoms, we find
we have nothing left behind, no "mind-stuff"
out of which the emotion can be constituted,
and that a cold and neutral state of
intellectual perception is all that remains.
It is true that although most people, when
asked, say that their introspection verifies
this statement, some persist in saying their
does not. Many cannot be made to understand
the question. . . .
I cannot help thinking that all who rightly
apprehend this problem will agree with the
proposition above laid down. What kind of an
emotion of fear would be left, if the
feelings neither of quickened heartbeats nor
of shallow breathing, neither of trembling
lips nor of weakened limbs, neither of
gooseflesh nor of visceral stirrings, were
present, it is quite impossible to think. Can
one fancy the state of rage and picture no
ebulition of it in the chest, no flushing of
the face, no dilatation of the nostrils, no
clenching of the teeth, no impulse to
vigorous action, but in their stead limp
muscles, calm breathing, and a placid face?
The present writer, for one, certainly
cannot. The rage is as completely evaporated
as the sensation of its so-called
manifestation. . . .
Our natural way of thinking about . . .
emotions is that the mental perception of
some fact excites the mental affection called
the emotion, and that this latter state of
mind gives rise to the bodily expression. My
thesis on the contrary is that the bodily
changes follow directly the PERCEPTION of the
exciting fact, and that our feeling of the
same changes as they occur IS the emotion.
Common sense says, we lose our fortune, are
sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are
frightened and run; we are insulted by a
rival, are angry and strike. The hypothesis
here to be defended says that this order of
sequence is incorrect, that the one mental
state is not immediately induced by the
other, that we feel sorry because we cry,
angry because we strike, afraid because we
tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or
tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or
fearful as the case may be. Without the
bodily states following on the perception,
the latter would be purely cognitive in form,
pale, colorless, destitute of emotional
warmth. .We might then see the bear, and
judge it best to run, receive the insult and
deem it right to strike, but we could not
actually feel afraid or angry. (1884, pp. 13
The question remains: what kind of
relationship does the body have with emotion?
Does the experience of emotion precipitate
changes in the physical body? Or do the
changes in the physical body create the
experience we call emotion. Ed Claparede
challenges the James-Lange theory:

The peripheral theory of James and Lange
raises . . .a very great difficulty. Why, if
the emotion is only consciousness of
peripheral changes in the organism, is it
perceived as an "emotion" and not as “organic
sensations"? Why, when I am afraid, am I
conscious of "having fear," instead of being
simply conscious of certain organic
impressions, tremblings, beatings of the
heart, etc.? (1928, p. 124)

Regarding the question of the relationship
between the body and emotion, it seems that
we may not be posing the right questions.
James and his followers, as well as his
adversaries, have all assumed the
relationship between specific physiological
activities in the body and the experience of
emotion to be a cause-effect relationship.
This may not be the case. I suggest that each
of these phenomena is a dependent variable:
each of them is a function or reflection of a
third phenomenon--the actual cause of both
physical and emotional responses. We will be
looking at this in chapter 12, when we
examine emotion in terms of a holographic
theory of consciousness and reality.

Walter Cannon's (1927, 1928) theory was the
first theory of any consequence to appear
after the theories of James and Lange.
Cannon's theory is often described as the
Cannon-Bard theory, since much of the
experimental work on which Cannon's work was
based was carried out separately by Philip
Bard (for example 1928, 1929). Cannon's
theory is also referred to as a thalamic
theory (because of his discovery of the
importance of the thalamus in the phenomenon
of emotion) or a neurophysiological theory.
Challenging James's idea that emotion is
nothing more than the feeling of the
peripheral bodily changes, Cannon suggested
that emotion is the experience of neural
discharge or impulse from the thalamus. He
suggested further that this thalamic
discharge is generated by the release of
cortical inhibition, and that it occurs in
response to an (external) environmental
stimulus. (The anatomical relationships
between the thalamus, cerebral cortex and
other related brain structures are shown in
figure 9, page 207. Note that the cortex
consists of the outer surface of the cerebral
hemisphere, including the medial surface, to
a depth of about a quarter of an inch; it is
made up of grey matter, i.e., collections of
neural cell bodies.)

Cannon thus argued that all emotion depends
on a common chain of events. A graphic
representation of this chain is shown in
figure 7.

Figure 7. Diagram of the neural connections
Cannon's thalamic (inhibitory) theory.
In this model, an environmental situation
stimulates receptors which relay impulses to
the cortex by way of the thalamus. The
cortex, in turn, stimulates or rouses
thalamic processes which act in particular
patterns corresponding to particular
emotional expressions. At the same time,
these roused thalamic processes are held in
check by cortical inhibition; it is only by
releasing the inhibiting effect of the cortex
that the roused thalamus discharges. The
discharge, according to Cannon, has two
functions: first to excite muscles and
viscera (expression), and second to relay
information back to the cortex (experience).
In this model both expression and experience
are inhibited by the cortex.

While the neurophysiological picture is far
more complex than Cannon's model suggests, he
at least drew attention to the
neurophysiology of emotion and, specifically,
the roles of the cortex and thalamus in the
experience and expression of emotion.
Cannon's model presents a number of problems.
First, Cannon appears to recognize only
external, environmental stimuli. Like James
and Darwin and all the Stoics before them,
Cannon never seriously considered inner
stimulating events. J. W. Papezts (1937)
theory of emotion was the next major theory
after Cannon to have a neurophysiological
basis; Papez challenged this aspect of
Cannon's theory, arguing that emotion can be
triggered either by cortical activity or by
hypothalamic activity. Quoting Papez: "In the
past, many of us have thought of the nervous
system as a silent network of neurons
activated only in response to sensory
stimulation from the outside. We must now
enlarge our thinking by assuming a
preexisting and probably autogenous

Arnold (1950) challenged Cannon's belief that
emotion is triggered by the release of
cortical inhibition of roused thalamic
processes. Citing evidence from experiments
with decorticated animals, animals with
thalamic lesions, and humans with prefrontal
lobotomies, Arnold presents a convincing
argument that the triggering mechanism in
emotion, rather than being the release of
cortical inhibition, is cortical excitation.
Like Papez, Arnold allows for emotion to be
triggered either by external stimuli or by
the autogenous activity of the cortex. A
graphic representation of Arnold's theory is
presented in figure 8. Arnold's model is
much more sophisticated than Cannon's, taking
into account the emotional states of fear and
anger, relating these to the sympathetic and
parasympathetic nervous systems:
It is possible now to present a sequence of
events in emotional experience which will
take into account Cannon's observations but
use the alternative hypothesis of cortical
excitation instead of cortical inhibition. We
start not with the stimulus 5ut with the
autogenous activity of the cortex to which
electroencephalograph (EEG) studies have
accustomed us. . . .
Psychologically speaking, the stimulus does
not break in on us; rather, we focus on it,
an activity which can be called "attention"
or "set" or "expectancy.” Neurologically
speaking, this focusing may consist in the
activation of cortico-thalamic fibers which,
according to recent evidence . . . , are
interspersed among sensory thalamo-cortical
fibers. The incoming sensory excitation could
then be modified either in the thalamus or at
arrival in the cortex. Thus we see what we
have learned to expect by previous sensory
experience. . . . A similar focusing process
may go on transcortically, and we now see
what we expect to see emotionally (a flapping
sheet becomes a ghost in the ark) This fusion
of expectancy and sensation represents a
psychological evaluation of the situation:
"How does this affect me?" The resulting
emotional attitude (anger, fear, disgust,
etc.) then initiates nerve impulses from the
cortex to centers in the thalamus-
hypothalamus, which touch off the appropriate
pattern of emotional expression as well as
the corresponding peripheral changes. The
autonomic effects thus produced (changes in
muscle tone, blood pressure, heart rate,
etc.) are then reported back to the cortex
via the afferent sensory pathways. Finally,
this cortical perception of organic changes
may again be evaluated as to "how it affects
me." A complete emotional experience would
include the whole sequence--evaluation,
emotional attitude (or feeling), resulting in
emotional expression, autonomic changes, and
their cortical perception and re-evaluation.
(1950, pp. 18-19)

Figure 8. Diagram of the neural connections
in Arnold's excitatory theory.

We are in the midst of a far-reaching
transformation in the way we view the
relationships between thought, emotion and
the state of the physical body. Evidence is
accumulating that ordinary intellectual and
emotional activities of everyday life affect
our bodies far more than we have heretofore
believed. Robert Ader, recent past president
of the American Psychosomatic Society, says
this transformation is nothing short of a
revolution. 14

Three physiological systems appear to be
involved in the central mechanism that
creates both the experience and the
expression of emotion: (1) the limbic system;
(2) the autonomic nervous system (ANS); and
(3) the endocrine system. The limbic system,
located in the central, most primitive part
of the brain, controls both the ANS and the
endocrine system.

Roger Tarpy (1977) describes the limbic
system as a loosely defined group of
structures of the diencephalon and the
surrounding cortex. The diencephalon includes
the thalamus (specifically, the subthalamus
and anterior portions of the thalamus are
involved in the limbic system), hypothalamus;
epithalamus (or pineal gland), and the third
ventricle. The structures in the surrounding
cortex include the hippocampus, hippocampal
and cingulate gyri of the cortex, amygdala
and septum. These structures are shown in
figure 9.
Paul MacLean (1970) describes the functions
of the limbic brain by identifying three
pathways connecting the ring of limbic cortex
(limbic lobe) with the hypothalamus and other
parts of the brainstem. These pathways are
shown schematically in figure 10. The two
upper branches of the medial forebrain bundle
meet with the descending fibers from the
olfactory apparatus and feed into both the
lower and upper halves of the limbic ring
through the amygdala and septum respectively,
forming two of the major pathways identified
by MacLean, The third large pathway branches
from the hypothalamus and largely bypasses
the olfactory apparatus. It leads to the
anterior and medial thalamus and from there
to the large cingulate gyrus in the upper
half of the ring.
Septum and Cingulate
Gyrus MacLean describes the function of the
upper part of the limbic ring, including the
septum and cingulated gyrus:

Figure 9. Components of the limbic system and
related structures--brain structures involved
in the experience and expression of emotion.

Figure 10. MacLean’s diagram of pathways
connecting three main subdivisions of the
limbic system. The ring of limbic cortex is
shown in light and dark stipple. The two
subdivisions connected with the amygdala and
septum, respectively, are intimately related
to the olfactory apparatus. The pathway
linking the third subdivision largely
bypasses the olfactory apparatus (modified
from MacLean 1970).
. . . Structures in the upper part of the
ring connected with the septal pathway appear
to be involved in expressive and feeling
states that are conducive to sociability,
procreation, and the preservation of the
species. In the male cats, for example,
stimulation in parts of this circuit results
in pleasure and grooming and sexual reactions
seen in courtship behavior. We have found in
the monkey that the medial septal preoptic
region is a nodal point for penile erection.
(1970, p. 134)
Amygdala and Hippocampal Gyrus
The lower half of the ring, i.e., the
amygdala and the hippocampal gyrus, according
to MacLean, has a contrasting function:
. . . Clinical and experimental findings
suggest that the lower part of the ring fed
by the amygdala is primarily concerned with
feelings, emotions, and behavior that insure
self-preservation. Its circuits are kept busy
with the selfish demands of feeding,
fighting, and self-protection. (1970, p. 134)
There appears to be a correspondence between
the two pathways described by the lower and
upper halves of the ring, on the one hand,
and feeding and mating on the other. The
olfactory apparatus, which anatomically
connects the two halves, is directly involved
in both feeding and mating:
The intimate organization of these two
subdivisions in oral and genital functions is
presumably attributable to the olfactory
sense, which, dating far back in evolution,
plays an important role in both feeding and
mating. The persistence of this antique
relationship in mammals makes it
understandable that excitation in one region
readily spills over into the other so that
sexual excitation may result in reflex
mouthing, biting, and vice versa.
It is relevant to sadomasochistic behavior
that pathways for oral and genital functions
funnel into that same part of the
hypothalamus that Hess (1943) and others have
found to be central for angry and other forms
of antagonistic behavior. As fighting is
frequently a preliminary to mating as well as
feeding, the findings suggest that Nature
uses the same neural mechanisms for combat in
both situation. (1970, p. 134)
Maclean describes the role and function of
the third pathway, which has evolved with the
We will now direct our attention to the third
pathway, . . . which bypasses the olfactory
apparatus. This pathway which is virtually
nonexistent in reptiles becomes progressively
larger in the evolution of primates and
reaches its greatest size in man. There is
some evidence that this reflects a shifting
of emphasis from olfactory to visual
influences in sociosexual behavior (MacLean,
1962, 1968b, pp. 24-34). Significantly, in
this respect, stimulation within parts of
this circuit, as in the septa1 circuit,
elicits sexual responses in monkeys,
Finally, we will pause to note that this
third subdivision of the limbic system
establishes connections with the prefrontal
cortex, an evolutionary new formation of the
brain that culminates in man. Clinical
analysis of cases with frontal lesions
suggests that the prefrontal cortex is
instrumental in providing the combination of
insight and foresight that is required for
promoting both our own welfare and the
welfare of others. (1970, pp. 134-135)
Epithalamus (Pineal Gland)
The epithalamus, located on the posterior of
the thalamus, consists primarily of the
pineal body and related nuclei and tracts;
these nuclei and tracts have connections with
the thalamus, hypothalamus, basal nuclei
(caudate and lenticular nuclei) and the
medial temporal cortex (limbic cortex). While
the epithalarnus, like the pituitary gland,
holds a significant position anatomically,
the precise function of the pineal in humans
is unclear. "Recent evidence suggests it
offers an inhibitory influence on
testicular/ovarian activity through the
secretion of a hormone (melatonin). Melatonin
is also said to have effects on the CNS in
response to changes in environmental light,
which may relate to natural rhythms or cycles
inherent in certain body functions.”15
As we have seen from the theories of Cannon
(1927), Arnold (1950) and others, the
thalamus appears to hold a key position in
the limbic system, operating more or less as
the central switchboard for most all messages
coming and going between the body and rest of
the brain. Kapit and Elson (1977) describe
the structure and function of the thalamus :
The thalamus consists of several groups of
cell bodies and processes that function
largely as relay or association centers. A
simple concept, but complex structure and
even more complex function. The relay nuclei
of the thalamus receive ascending input
indirectly from most sensory neurons of
cranial and spinal nerves. It receives input
directly from cranial nerve II (optic), and
no input from cranial nerve I (olfactory).
The post-synaptic neurons (relay nuclei)
project axons to specific sensory or motor
areas of the cortex. Association centers of
the thalamus project fibers among themselves
and to association areas of the cortex. Still
other thalamic nuclei connect to other
brainstem nuclei including the hypothalamus.
Activity among these centers/nuclei and their
connections generally results in an
integration of sensory experiences resulting
in appropriate motor responses; an
integration of emotions appropriate to
specific sensory input (e.g., crying in
response to pain); and regulation and
maintenance of the conscious state, subject
to facilitating inhibiting influences from
the cerebral cortex. Although sensory systems
seem to be the principal concern of the
thalamus, thalamic connections to the basal
nuclei, hypothalamus, and cerebellum strongly
imply the thalamus is in business to
influence certain descending (motor) pathways
as well. (1977, plate 123)


Located just below and slightly forward of
the thalamus on both sides of the third
ventricle, the hypothalamus consists of
several tightly packed masses of gray matter
intermixed with tracts of white matter. It
maintains connections with the frontal and
temporal cortices, thalamus, midbrain and
lower brainstem, and the pituitary gland
Besides being the brain structure most
involved in the expression of emotion, the
hypothalamus has several very important
functions--all regulatory in nature. The
hypothalamus is concerned with:

(1) activation of the drive to eat
and the subsequent feeling of satisfaction
following fulfillment of that drive;

(2) regulation of the autonomic
nervous system, including:
(a) regulation of body temperature; '
(b) integration of visceral reflexes
and emotional reactions;

(3) regulation of certain glands in the
endocrine system by regulating the secretory
activity of the pituitary gland; and

(4) influencing descending impulses related
to both reflexive and skilled movement.16

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is part of
the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
Functioning largely independent of the will,
the ANS innervates the blood vessels, smooth
muscles, visceral organs, glands, as well as
the cardiac muscle of the heart, and controls
their functions. It is, accordingly, a
visceral motor system, as opposed to a
sensory system. (Since sensory neurons of
visceral organs are no different--
structurally or functionally--than the
sensory neurons of the rest of the body, they
are not considered part of the ANS.) The ANS
consists of two divisions: sympathetic and
parasympathetic. These divisions have their
headquarters in the hypothalamus: the
sympathetic in the posterior, the
parasympathetic in the anterior hypothalamus.
The autonomic nervous system appears to be
concerned with very basic survival activities
and corresponding emotional states. The
sympathetic division is innervated in
situations in which either fight or flight
responses are elicited, along with the
corresponding emotional responses of rage or
fear, respectively. The overall effect of
innervation of the sympathetic system is a
rise in blood pressure, mobilization of
defenses against over-cooling, and other
reactions appropriate to fight or flight
emergencies. The parasympathetic division is
innervated in situations involving lust or
hunger (perhaps all desire?) and mediates the
emotion of love. l8 It also mediates the
vegetative activities involved in the
processes of digestion and absorption of
nutrients. The overall effect of innervation
of the parasympathetic division is a lowering
of blood pressure; mobilization of defenses
against overheating; shunting of blood from
skeletal muscle to digestive viscera; and
other responses appropriate to sexual desire
and hunger. 19

Sympathetic Division
The sympathetic division is shown
anatomically in figure 11, and schematically
in figure 12. It consists of (1) a series of
connected ganglia, extending from the base of
the skull to the coccyx, one on each side of
the middle line of the body, partly in front
and partly on each side of the vertebral
column; (2) three great gangliated plexuses
or aggregations of nerves and ganglia,
situated in front of the spine in the
thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavities
respectively; (3) smaller ganglia, situated
in relation with the abdominal viscera (not
shown); and (4) numerous nerve fibers. The
latter are of trio kinds: communicating, by
which the ganglia communicate with each other
and with the cerebro-spinal nerves; and
distributory, supplying the internal viscera
and the coats of the blood vessels. 20

Figure 11. The Sympathetic Nervous System
(modified from Kapit and Elson 1977 and Gray

Figure 12. A schematic diagram of the
sympathetic division (modified from Kapit and
Elson 1977).

The sympathetic division supplies five basic
head and neck, thoracic viscera, abdominal
viscera, pelvis and perineum, and skin.

Head and Neck
Axons leave the sympathetic chain at the
superior cervical ganglion, join the carotid
arteries en route and supply the following
structures (effects of innervation are
indicated in parentheses):
• dilator muscles in the iris
(dilation) ;
• glands of the eye (reduction of
• glands of the nasal and oral cavities
(reduction of secretion);
• smooth muscle of blood vessels
• sweat glands (increased secretion);
• arrector pili muscles (erect hairs on
surface of skin). 21

Thoracic Viscera

Axons leave the sympathetic chain at the
inferior cervical ganglion and the ganglia
corresponding to the first five thoracic
vertebrae and form directly the cardiac,
pulmonary and esophageal plexuses. Axons from
this set of plexuses supply:

• the SA and AV nodes of the heart
(increased heart rate) ;
• coronary arteries (coronary
• lungs and bronchi (vasodilation and
bronchiodilation); and
• esophagus (inhibited peristaltic
activity). 22

Abdominal Viscera and the Solar Plexus

From the 5th thoracic through the 2nd lumbar
vertebrae, many of the axons leaving the
ventral root of the spine pass right through
the sympathetic chain without synapsing with
any cell bodies in the ganglia. These axons
leave the chain bundled together to form part
of the splanchnic nerve which connects these
axons from the CNS with the solar plexus.

The solar plexus is a great network of nerves
(bundles of neural fibers) and ganglia (gray
matter--collections of cell bodies—existing
outside the brain and spinal cord).Depending
on the source it is said to consist of two to
seven subsets -- smaller plexuses, usually
named according to the neighboring arteries
around which they tend to cluster: Kapit and
Elson (1977) identify two major ganglia—
celiac and superior mesenteric; Gray (1974)
identifies seven major plexuses – prenic
suprarenal, renal, spermatic, celiac,
superior mesenteric and aortic. Axons leave
these ganglia and plexuses to supply the
smooth muscle and glands of the viscera as
well as the smooth muscle of their arteries.
The celiac ganglia this supply the liver,
stomach and pancreas; the superior or
mesenteric ganglia supply the small and large
intestine and kidneys. Innervation of these
ganglia results in reduced peristalsis and
glandular secretion, vasoconstriction, and
increased sphincter activity of all viscera
involved. 23

Pelvis and Perinium
Axons leaving the ventral root of the first
and second lumbar vertebrae pass through the
sympathetic chain via the splanchnic nerve
and connect with the inferior mesenteric
ganglion. Axons leave this ganglion in a
downward direction to a network of autonomic
fibers from which axons reach for the smooth
muscle, glands, and vascular smooth muscle of
the lower intestinal tract, pelvic and
perineal organs. Innervation of this ganglion
results in reduced peristalsis and glandular
secretion, vasoconstriction, and increased
sphincter activity of all viscera involved.
Axons supplying the skin leave the chain via
the gray rami (not shown) at each and every
level of the spinal cord to join the spinal
nerves. These axons branch along with their
somatic counterparts (not shown) to supply
arteries associated with skeletal muscle and
cutaneous areas. Innervation of these ganglia
results in vasodilation of arteries supplying
skeletal muscles, increased sweat gland
activity, erection of hairs, and
vasoconstriction. 25

Fear, Rage and Depression

Since the states of fear and rage are both
mediated by the sympathetic division, it is
apparent that the physiological activities
associated with there states are much the
same and involve the same basic structures
and systems. The known differences are
surprisingly few:

• rage is evoked with moderate
stimulation of the amygdaloid nucleus; fear
is evoked with intense stimulation of the
same structure; 26
• fear involves the hormone epinephrine
secreted into the blood stream from the
medullae of the adrenal glands upon
stimulation by fibers of the great splanchnic
nerve; 27 outwardly directed rage involves
the hormone norepinephrine, secreted directly
from the adrenergic nerve endings of the
sympathetic division; 28 and
• outwardly directed rage involves the
f lexion of anti-gravity muscles; fear
involves the relaxation of anti-gravity
muscles. 29 More on these differences later.

We have known for some time--from our
experiences in psychotherapy--about the
relationship between depression and
suppressed rage. We are now finding
physiological evidence to support the idea
that some forms of depression are
manifestations of suppressed rage. (I see two
basic kinds of depression--dynamically quite
different from each other, although the net
results (manifestations) are very similar:
one involves suppressed rage; the other
involves hopelessness. We often suffer both
simultaneously.) Rage can apparently take two
forms: outwardly directed rage, which
manifests in aggression; and inwardly
directed rage, which manifests in depression.
Rage in either form appears to involve the
same structures and pathways. A major and
significant difference appears to exist
between outwardly directed rage and
depression: in depression one finds an
abundance of epinephrine, rather than
norepinephrine, in the blood stream. 30 If
truly a form of rage, one would expect to
find norepinephrine. It could be implied from
this unusual combination that depression is a
combination of rage and fear--possibly fear
of expressing the rage?
Some of the similarities and differences I
have found between the subjective experiences
of fear, outwardly directed rage, depression
and lust are summarized in figure 13. This
diagram represents an overview of some of the
functional paths the hypothalamus can
activate from instant to instant in its role
as regulator. Note that the experience of
hunger has not been developed. My reason for
this was that hunger, while intimately
related with emotion in many ways, does not
ordinarily fall into the category we call
emotion--unless it is defined in terms of
desire for food. For this reason alone I
consider it to be beyond the scope of this

Figure 13. Diagram of electrochemical
activities of the Autonomic Nervous System.

Rage and Gravity
An unexpected relationship appears to exist
between the state of rage and the force of
gravity. My first consideration of this
possibility occurred when I was exposed to
the work of D. Stanley-Jones (1970). Based on
empirical evidence collected in experiments
with decerebrate cats and dogs, "animals
bereft of their cerebral cortex, in whom
there is no question of feeling, or affect,
or any conscious awareness that an emotion is
being experienced," Stanley-Jones postulates
that there are only two primary emotional
states, love and hate, and that these are
founded on the physiological reactions of
lust and rage respectively. She draws some
interesting conclusions:
The rage-reaction of a decerebrate cat is
familiar. The animal snarls and spits, lashes
with its claws and its tail, stands with its
back arched and its legs extended as part of
the pattern of decerebrate rigidity. The
special features of this rage-reaction are
over activity of the antigravity extensor
muscles [italics mine], acceleration of the
heart, constriction of the blood vessels, and
a rise of blood pressure. The cardiovascular
components are mediated by the sympathetic,
and coordinated by the posterior
hypothalamus. Rage is therefore a sympathetic
emotion. . . .
Rage occurs as a fully integrated and
conscious reaction in an angry man. He stands
with his knees braced, his trunk erect, his
hands clenched in a fist, his jaws clenched
and possibly grinding his teeth. The general
pattern is that of over activity in all the
antigravity extensor muscles [italics mine].
(1970, pp. 25-26)
Stanley-Jones then goes on to explain that
this appears to be true for all animals--
including those that hang upside-down, such
as the sloth. These animals also flex their
anti-gravity muscles, that is, those muscles
that pull their bodies up closer to the
branch from which they hang. From this it
would appear that what we are observing is
not a correspondence between rage and the
flexion of particular muscles in an animal or
human, but a correspondence between rage and
the force of gravity--as if we living beings
tend naturally to resist gravity in states of
Further observations about rage and gravity:
First, I observed a film of an experiment in
which a group of about six young orangutans
were deliberately frustrated by having the
attendant slap their hands each time one of
them reached for a bottle of milk which sat
in the center of the group. After a short
time they began to show signs of frustration
and rage. Being of gentle nature, seldom
exhibiting aggressive or violent behavior,
these individuals would at some level of
frustration fall to the ground on their backs
and throw a tantrum, noisily releasing their
anger. Once released, they would return to
the circle of their peers and contemplate
once again how they were going to go about
getting the milk without getting slapped. I
am suggesting that it is no coincidence that
such gentle creatures instinctively turn away
from flexing their antigravity muscles during
episodes of rage.

Second, I have observed within myself and
others with whom I have become engaged in
angry exchanges that we humans do, as
Stanley-Jones and others have suggested, tend
to flex our antigravity muscles. My own sense
of this--and this has been suggested by
others--is that we try to make ourselves
bigger--literally. We will even resort to
standing on our toes in a nose-to-nose
exchange in order to impose a greater threat
to "the enemy." I have also observed that
many men (and occasionally women) walk the
streets of San Francisco using a number of
tactics to make themselves appear larger than
they are, such as: using large, lumbering
strides; lifting themselves on their toes
with each step; making large sweeping motions
from side to side as they walk, taking up a
great deal of the sidewalk: and turning the
backs of their hands to face forward in order
to increase the size of their physical
profiles when viewed from the front or back.
This style of walking has, throughout a large
segment of the black and latino communities
in San Francisco, become equated with
masculinity and, accordingly, has become part
of their cultures.

Third, in my work with people "on the floor,"
as described in chapter 14, I have observed
many, many intense eruptions of rage while
they were in a horizontal position and--
without exception--this rage has never
erupted into acts of aggression or violence
toward others in their presence.

As a consequence of these observations, I now
encourage myself and my adversaries to sit
down or lie down --preferably on the floor--
to communicate our anger to each other.
Parasympathetic Division
The parasympathetic division is shown
schematically in figure 14. While the
sympathetic division arises from cell bodies
in the spinal cord from the first thoracic to
the second lumbar vertebrae, the
parasympathetic division arises from cell
bodies in four locations in the brainstem and
three in the sacral part of the spinal cord.
Also, rather than connecting with a chain of
ganglia near the vertebral column, the axons
leaving these cell bodies join ganglia
located in or very near the visceral organs
they supply.

The parasympathetic division supplies
essentially the same viscera as the
sympathetic division. Parasympathetic axons
do not generally supply blood vessel
musculature, sweat glands, and arrector pili
(hair-raising) muscles; accordingly, they are
not generally found in peripheral nerves as
are sympathetic postganglionic axons. 33

Head and Neck

There are four ganglia in each hemisphere of
the head, discrete bodies slightly smaller
than the head of a pin: the ciliary ganglion
is located just behind the eyeball; the
pterygopalatine ganglion is located in the
lateral wall of the nasal cavity near the
nasopharynx; the otic and submandibular
ganglia a relocated near the salivary glands
around and below the mandible. Short post-
ganglionic axons leave these ganglia and
supply the following structures:

Figure 14. A schematic diagram of the
parasympathetic division (modified from Kapit
and Elson 1977).

• ciliary muscle of the eye (alteration
of lens shape);
• papillary sphincter (reduction of the
size of the pupil); and
• glands of the eye and nasal and oral
cavities (increased secretion). 34

Thoracic Viscera
Intramural ganglia are located in the
submucosa of the lungs and bronchi and the
muscular tunics of the heart muscle; these
ganglia are of microscopic dimensions. Short
postganglionic axons leave these ganglia and
supply the following structures:

• the SA and AV nodes of the heart
(decreased heart rate);
• coronary arteries (coronary
• lungs and bronchi (vasoconstriction
and bronchoconstriction); and
• esophagus (enhanced peristaltic
activity). 35

Abdominal Viscera
The parasympathetic division supplying the
abdominal viscera arise from two sources: the
brainstem and the sacral segments of the
spinal cord. The brainstem, via the vagus
nerve, supplies axons which synapse with
intramural ganglia located in the submucosa
and muscular tunics of the abdominal viscera.
Short postganglionic axons leaving these
ganglia supply the smooth muscle and glands
of the liver, stomach, pancreas, and small
and large intestine. 36
Some of the parasympathetic nerves entering
the thorax join with the sympathetic division
in the cardiac and pulmonary plexuses and
disperse. The remaining vagal vibers form a
plexus about the esophagus to go through the
diaphram and enter the abdomen where they
form a mix with the solar plexus, from which
they follow arteries to the organs they
supply. 37
Innervation of the parasympathetic division
of the ganglia and plexuses mingling in the
abdomen results in increased secretion of
abdominal glands and increased activity of
the smooth muscles of the abdominal viscera.
Pelvis and Perinium
The sacral preganglionic axons, arising from
segments S2 through S4 of the spinal cord,
leave via the anterior roots, join the spinal
nerves for a few millimeters, then bend away
toward the pelvic interior. Bundles of these
nerves constitute the pelvic splanchnic nerve
that forms a plexuses with the sympathetic
axons (from the inferior mesenteric ganglia
on the rectum). Axons then follow arteries to
synapse with intramural ganglia on the
kidneys, bladder and ovaries/testes. Short
postganglionic axons from these ganglia
supply these organs. 3 9

Blood Pressure and the ANS
Computer technology has made it possible only
recently to monitor blood pressure
continuously while a person is engaged in
other activities. This seemingly simply
breakthrough has revealed that blood pressure
doesn't behave at all the way we thought it
did. A study at University of Maryland’s
psychophysiological clinic involved 600
people ranging from infancy to over 80 years
of age. Psychologist James Lynch said that 98
percent of the 600 subjects tested showed
increases in blood pressure when they spoke.
Blood pressure increased between 10 percent
and 50 percent; the average increase was
between 10 percent and 20 percent. This
increase was also found to occur when deaf
people communicate through sign language.
Indeed, it increases even as we prepare to
speak. 40 I know from personal experience and
from observing others that blood pressure can
leap very rapidly at the mere thought of
expressing something negative to somebody--
especially when intense fear or rage is on
the verge of erupting.

The endocrine system is composed of a dozen
or so ductless glands consisting of masses of
secretory cells which secrete their
products--hormones--directly into the
capillaries or tissue fluids in their
immediate environments. Hormones are chemical
agents usually effective among cells some
distance from their sources. Generally
considered in this system are: the pituitary
and pineal glands in the head (which are not
considered to be part of the brain); the
thyroid and parathyroids located in the neck;
the thymus, located just above and in front
of the heart; the adrenals, attached to the
top of each kidney; the pancreas, also
located near the kidneys; and the
ovaries/testes.41 The locations of these
glands are shown in figure 15.
Pituitary Gland (Hypophysis)
The pituitary gland consists of two lobes:
anterior (including the intermediate lobe
which, in humans, may very well not be
functional) and the posterior. The
hypothalamus supplies the anterior lobe by a
portal system of vessels which carry
hypothalamic secretions; it supplies the
posterior lobe by a bundle of secretory
neurons. Together, the hypothalamus and the
pituitary gland greatly influence the
activities of certain other endocrine glands,
namely, the cortices of the adrenal glands,
the thyroid and ovaries/testes, as well as a
number of specific metabolic functions.42

Figure 15. Location of the endocrine glands
(modified from Kapit and Elson 1977).

The anterior lobe of the pituitary, under the
influence of hormones released from secretory
neurons within the hypothalamus to which it
is attached, is stimulated to produce and
secrete seven hormones: follicle stimulating
hormone (FSH); luteinizing hormone (LH);
thyrotropin (TSH); somatotropin (growth)
hormone (STH); melanocyte stimulating hormone
[MSH) ; adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) ; and
prolactin. Through the posterior lobe of the
pituitary, the hypothalamus secretes two
hormones--0xytocin and anti- diuretic hormone
(ADH)--directly into circulation. 43
Target Organs and Effects of Pituitary

FSH and LH stimulate the ovaries to secrete
estrogen and progesterone in the female; in
the male, FSH stimulates spermatogenesis and
LH stimulates testosterone secretion. TSH
stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete
thyroxin (thyroid hormone), which acts Sack
on the hypothalamus (via the blood) to
control TSH secretion. ACTH stimulates the
adrenal cortex to secrete adrenal cortical
hormones, many of which act back on the
hypothalamus to regulate ACTH secretion.
Prolactin and oxytocin stimulate the
production of breast milk. Loss of body water
(due to sweating, for example) creates a
minute change in osmotic pressure of the
blood. Receptors in the hypothalamus,
sensitive to this change, induce sensory
neurons to secrete ADH into the circulation
at the posterior lobe. This increases the
permesbility of the distal/collecting tubules
of the kidney to water, resulting in
increased reabsorption of water and
concentration of urine. STH stimulates body
growth and metabolism. MSH increases
pigmentation in the skin (in association with
ACTH). 44

Pineal Gland (Epithalamus)

As stated earlier in the discussion of the
limbic system, the precise function of the
pineal in humans is unclear, beyond the
secretion of melatonin, which appears to
inhibit testicular/ovarian activity and
relate to changes in environmental light--
which, in turn, may relate to natural rhythms
inherent in certain body functions. 45

Thyroid Gland

Responding to the hormone TSH secreted from
the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, the
thyroid gland produces and secretes thyroxin
into the blood stream. Thyroxin increases
oxygen consumption in practically all
tissues, thereby increasing the metabolic
rate. Thyroxin is involved in many different
ways in growth and development, in proper
nervous activity, and the metabolism of
carbohydrates and fats. Excessive secretion
of thyroxin results in one or more of the
following: weight loss, extreme nervousness,
tremors, protruding eyeballs, an elevated
basal metabolic rate, and an enlarged thyroid
or goiter. Thyroid insufficiency in children
is generally manifested by dwarfism and
mental retardation (cretinism). In adults,
the skin is yellowish, thought processes are
diminished, the voice changes, and
accumulation of mucous material in the skin
and fascia gives a puffy appearance
(myxedema). 46

The thymus is a key structure in the immune
system. Not only is it part of the endocrine
system, it is a member of the lymphatic
system. There is evidence that the thymus
produces a hormone (thymosin) that enhances
the development of "T" lymphocytes, which
secrete a substance that attacks the protein
of certain tumor cells, foreign cells and
micro-organisms. The thymus is also known to
play a critical role in the seeding of the
lymphatic organs (lymph nodes, diffuse
lymphatic tissue, etc.) with potential "T"
lymphocytes. Activity of the thymus wanes
significantly after puberty; much of it
atrophies to be replaced with fibrous tissue.
Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands, located on the kidneys,
are two different glands encapsulated as one:
the cortex and the medulla. The medulla is
stimulated by fibers of the greater
splanchnic nerve (sympathetic division of the
autonomic nervous system); upon stimulation,
the medulla releases epinephrine. This
hormone stimulates the metabolic rate and the
breakdown and mobilization of starch
(glycogen) and lipids (fatty acids),
resulting in more available energy. The
medulla is thus stimulated in the "fight or
flight" reaction in response to life-
threatening situations: increased nervous
system activity, dilated pupils, increased
blood supply to skeletal muscle, blood
shunted away from the skin and
gastrointestinal tract to more critical
areas, increased respiration rate, and
increased heart rate and force of
The cortex is organized into three regions,
each of which releases various hormones
involved in the development of secondary sex
characteristics and in the metabolism of
The endocrine system is only one among a
number of biochemical systems operating in
the human body. Indeed, there seems to be a
sensitive collaboration among all of the
body's chemical systems, all supervised by
the brain. Of particular interest where
emotion is concerned are the catecholamines
and the endorphins.

There are four catecholamines (biogenic
amines) which play roles in both the central
nervous system and the sympathetic division
of the ANS: monoamine, serotonin, epinephrine
and norepinephrine (or dopamine). 49

Roles in the CNS. It is much easier to
examine the urine or blood than it is to
examine the biochemical relationships of
neurons in the brain. Because of this the
biochemical aspects of emotional states have
been explored largely in terms of the
peripheral biochemical changes which
accompany and feed back into the central
emotional state. Accordingly, we know
relatively little about the pattern of
biochemical changes which take place in the
brain, brainstem or spinal cord. 50
A remarkable contribution was made recently
in Sweden. Dahlstrom and Fuxe (1964), based
on the work of Eranko (1955), developed a
technique for histofluorescent demonstration
that enables us to identify which specific
cell bodies and axons in the CNS contain
specific catecholamines. Describing the work
of Dahlstrom and Fuxe, Seymour Kety writes:
. . . On the basis of that work [Hillarp,
Fuxe and Dahlstrom, 19661 it is possible to
define the cell bodies of these monoamine-
containing neurons in the brainstem reticular
formation, the norepinephrine-containing
neurons lying laterally, the serotonin-
containing neurons largely medially. It is
also possible to trace the axons of these
neurons containing demonstrable
concentrations of serotonin, dopamine, or
norepinephrine, as the case may be, to
various parts of the brain. High
concentrations of these amines occur at the
endings of those axons and a large amount of
ancillary information permits the inference
that these substances are acting as
transmitters at specific synapses in the
central nervous system.
These axons pass largely into the
hypothalamus and the limbic system where
their possible relationship to the adaptive
response in emotional states can be inferred.
It is easy to reason that these axons acting
in the hypothalamus control the autonomic
nervous system response to stress and
initiate the endocrine changes which are
known occur. Their precise role in the limbic
system, like the function of that system
itself, is less clear, but a wealth. of
evidence implies a crucial position in
affective behavior.
We are, however, also aware of a large
network of fine norepinephrine and
serontonin-containing fibers that pass
throughout the cerebral cortex where their
function is still quite obscure. It is
possible to speculate that these amines are
involved in arousal and attention. One may
further speculate that these amino-containing
endings which ramify throughout the cortex
have some relationship to learning and the
consolidation of memory. It is conceivable
that they facilitate the consolidation
process and are perhaps responsible for
establishing an association between
particular memories and their affective
component. (1970, p. 62)
A better understanding of the chemistry of
the central nervous system has revealed a
direct link between emotion and the body's
control of pain. Our brains, which enable us
to feel the sensations we call pain, contain
natural analgesics called endorphins that
are, in terms of weight, several times more
potent than morphine. It has also been
established that these endorphins are found
in particularly high concentrations in the
limbic system. 51 We might speculate that
this condition is due to our long history of
stoicism, that this is one of the ways
physiologically that we anesthetize ourselves
to those emotional aspects of life we choose
to suppress and ignore.

Only humans weep. Many animals secrete tears
regularly to keep the cornea moist; they also
produce tears in response to eye irritants.
But only human beings shed emotional tears.
At birth, humans have a functional lachrymal
system that keeps the eyes moist and secretes
tears in response to eye irritation. They do
not, however, produce tears when they cry
until they are several months old. It appears
that the central nervous system must develop
more fully before emotional tearing is
possible. 52
Darwin reported this uniquely human
characteristic, having first observed it in
his own children. He describes this discovery
in the following passage, in which he also
speculates about the function and
appropriateness of crying:
Infants whilst young do not shed tears or
weep, as is well known to nurses and medical
men. This circumstance is not exclusively due
to the lachrymal glands being as yet
incapable of secreting tears. I first noticed
this fact from having accidentally brushed
with the cuff of my coat the open eye of one
of my infants, when seventy-seven days old,
causing this eye to water freely; and though
the child screamed violently, the other eye
remained dry, or was only slightly suffused
with tears. A similar slight suffusion
occurred ten days previously in both eyes
during a screaming fit. The tears did not run
over the eyelids and roll down the cheeks of
this child, whilst screaming badly, when 122
days old. This first happened 17 days later,
at the age of 139 days. A few other children
have been observed for me, and the period of
free weeping appears to be very variable… It
would appear as if the lachrymal glands
require some practice in the individual
before they are easily excited into action,
in somewhat the same manner as various
inherited consensual movements and tastes
require some exercise before they are fixed
and perfected. This is all the more likely
with a habit like weeping, which must have
been acquired since the period when man
branched off from the common progenitor of
the genus Homo and or the non-weeping
anthropomorphous apes.
The fact of tears not being shed at a very
early age from pain or any mental emotion is
remarkable, as, later in life, no expression
is more general and more strongly marked than
weeping. When the habit has once been
acquired by an infant, it expresses in the
clearest manner suffering of all kinds, both
bodily pain and mental distress, even though
accompanied by other emotions, such as fear
or rage. The character of the crying,
however, changes at a very early age, as I
noticed in my own infants,--the passionate
cry differing from that of grief. A lady
informs me that her child, nine months old,
when in a passion screams loudly, but does
not weep; tears, however, are shed when she
is punished by her chair being turned with
its back to the table. This difference may
perhaps be attributed to weeping being
restrained, as we shall immediately see, at a
more advanced age, under most circumstances
excepting grief; and to the influence of such
restraint being transmitted to an earlier
period of life, than that at which it was
first practiced.
With adults, especially of the male sex,
weeping soon ceases to be caused by, or to
express, bodily pain. This may be accounted
for by its being thought weak and unmanly by
men, both of civilized and barbarous races,
to exhibit bodily pain by any outward sign.
With this exception, savages weep copiously
from very slight causes, of which fact Sir J.
Lubbock has collected instances. A New
Zealand chief "cried like a child because the
sailors spoilt his favorite cloak by
powdering it with flour." I saw in Tierra del
Fuego a native who had lately lost a brother,
and who alternately cried with hysterical
violence, and laughed heartily at anything
which amused him. With the civilized nations
of Europe there is also much difference in
the frequency of weeping. Englishmen rarely
cry, except under the pressure of the acutest
grief; whereas in some parts of the Continent
the men shed tears much more readily and
freely. . . .
Weeping seems to be the primary and natural
expression, as we see in children, of
suffering of any kind, whether bodily pain
short of extreme agony, or mental distress.
But the foregoing facts and common experience
shows us that a frequently repeated effort to
restrain weeping, in association with certain
states of the mind, does much in checking the
habit. On the other hand, it appears that the
power of weeping can be increased through
habit; thus the Rev. R. Taylor, who long
resided in New Zealand, asserts that the
women can voluntarily shed tears in
abundance; they meet for this purpose to
mourn for the dead, and they take pride in
crying "in the most affecting manner." (1872,
pp. 152-155)
As with all other phenomena associated with
emotion, it appears that weeping is an
extremely complex, multidimensional process.
Susan Seliger, writer, describes what happens
when we weep:
When we cry, tears flow from the two
lachrymal glands above the outside corner of
each eye and from the smaller glands
scattered around the eye. Tears wash over the
eye, drain through the nasal ducts in the
lower eyelids, flush through the nose and
throat --which is why you often have to blow
your nose when you cry. When drainage through
the nose is not fast enough, tears overflow
the eyes and trickle down the cheeks.
Crying stimulates the circulatory,
respiratory, vascular and nervous systems.
Pulse quickens, blood pressure rises. The
pharynx contracts, causing a lump in the
throat. Spasms of the diaphragm result in
sobs. Blowing the nose and breathing deeply
get the heart and lungs pumping. When you
cough hard, you send air rocketing out of the
lungs at up to 70 miles per hour. Crying, in
short, is good exercise. (1981)
Darwin acknowledged the relief of suffering
that comes from the total act of weeping. On
the other hand, he denied any functional
value to emotional tears produced in
conjunction with weeping, viewing them as "an
incidental result, as purposeless as the
secretion of tears from a blow outside the
eye." The belief that emotional tears serve
no real purpose has prevailed ever since,
almost without challenge,
James was never able to explain to himself
the relief and calm that come after a good
cry. This phenomenon was a challenge and a
threat to his Stoical paradigm, which negated
all passionate expressions. He dealt with
this, in traditional Stoical fashion, by
declaring it, in passing, to be a "specious
wandering from the rule":
. . . Everyone knows how panic is increased
by flight, and how the giving away to the
symptoms of grief or anger increases those
passions themselves. Each fit of sobbing
makes the sorrow more acute, and calls forth
another fit stronger still, until at last
repose only ensues with lassitude and with
the apparent exhaustion
of the machinery. . . .
I feel persuaded there is no real exception
to the law. The formidable effects of
suppressed tears might be mentioned, and the
calming results of speaking out your mind
when angry and having done with it. But these
are also but specious wanderings from the
rule. (1884, pp. 21-23)
William H. Frey 11, biochemist in the
Department of Psychiatry at St. Paul-Ramsey
Medical Center and assistant professor of
psychiatry at the University of Minnesota,
has been studying the role of certain brain
enzymes in disturbances such as
schizophrenia. More recently his research has
focused on the biochemistry of weeping. He
and his colleagues raise the question of
whether emotional tears might indeed serve
some important function in humans. Could it
be, for example, that we release chemicals
through our tears that alleviate our
suffering? Frey writes:
The uniquely human nature of emotional
tearing makes me doubt that such tears can be
passed off as incidental and purposeless;
evolution does not favor unnecessary
developments. None of the other human
excretory functions--exhaling, urinating,
defecating, sweating--is purposeless.
I suggest that weeping, like other excretory
processes, removes toxic substances from the
body and that tears have a precise role in
this process. Emotional stress alters the
chemical balance of the human body and,
conversely, changes in the chemical balance
can effect an emotional change. From a
biochemical viewpoint, people who are sad or
depressed could be suffering from a chemical
imbalance, an altered homeostasis that is
restored, at least partially, by the
excretion of certain substances in tears. I
agree with Darwin that emotional weeping
helps relieve suffering, but I submit that
the excretion of tears is central, not
incidental, to the relief mechanism. When
people use the expression "to cry out," this
may be literally what occurs. (1980)
What, then, are tears composed of chemically?
Under normal, healthy circumstances, when you
are not weeping, your tears contain water,
fat, protein, sodium chloride, albumin,
mucous, and the enzyme lysozyme, a natural
germ killer. Tears thus keep the corneas and
the mucous membranes in the nose and throat
moist and free of harmful bacteria and
viruses, 53
If, as Frey has suggested, emotional tears
contain toxic substances excreted from the
body under stress, what is the chemical
makeup of emotional tears? According to Frey,
there have been only three previous inquiries
into the difference in chemical makeup
between emotional tears and tears produced by
irritants. The first chemical analysis of
tears was published in France in 1791 by
Antoine de Fourcroy and Louis Vauquelin, who
found sodium chloride and other salts both in
emotional tears and in irritant tears. While
irritant tears have been examined for a
variety of properties since then, no
comparison between irritant and emotional
tears was published until 1957, when the
American chemist Robert Brunish observed that
the volume of tears produced during emotional
circumstances was larger and the protein
found in them was more concentrated than in
irritant-stimulated tears. He also found the
albumin content of emotional tears to exceed
that of irritant tears. The third and last
research prior to Frey's experiments was
published in Finland in 1959 by
ophthalmologist Ulf Drause. He claimed that
his extensive study did not corroborate
Brunish's findings with regard to the albumin
content of tears. 54
What Frey and his colleagues have found so
far confirms Brunish's contention that
emotional tears contain a greater
concentration of protein than do irritant-
induced tears. They are now looking for other
chemicals known to be associated with
emotional stress: beta-endorphin,
adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), prolactin and
growth hormone from the pituitary gland; and
the catecholamines--norepinephrine from the
sympathetic nervous system, and epinephrine
from the adrenal glands. 5 5
Two Russian researchers, R. B. Zubareva and
Z. M. Kiseleva, have reported finding high
concentrations of catecholamines in tears.
Frey's studies so far indicate that tears do
indeed contain catecholamines. They do not
yet have enough samples to compare the
catecholamine content of emotional tears with
irritant-induced tears. Measuring these
substances related to emotional stress in
such small quantities of tears requires
extremely sensitive methods of analysis,
which are just now being developed. 56
The time has come for us to accept that
crying is good for us. Medical evidence
suggests that people who cry are healthier
and live longer than people who don't cry.
Seliger describes a study conducted by
Margaret Crepeau, professor of psychiatric
nursing at Marquette University, who studied
three groups of patients to see if there was
some relation between good health and crying:
. . . She asked each group--one had ulcers,
another had colitis (both intestinal
disorders linked to stress) and the third was
healthy--how often they cried and how they
felt about crying.
"The healthy group cried more often and
thought that crying was good for you, a sign
of strength and a catharsis," Crepeau
reports. "Those with colitis and ulcers cried
less often and said they wouldn't cry more
even if they could. Many wrote about being
punished as a child for crying. Others wrote
that crying meant losing control, and they
didn't want to do that.
"But while keeping external control," says
Crepeau, "they've lost internal control.
Tissues are damaged." (1981)
Crying is our first means of communication.
Different cries contain different messages:
hold me, move me, feed me, change me. Crying
continues throughout our lives to communicate
extremely sophisticated messages. Howard
Golub, a postdoctoral student at Harvard
Medical School, has been working on a
computer program that might decipher babies'
cries. He fed the weeping sounds of normal
and sick children into a computer which
analyzed the weeping by breaking it down into
its component parts. Preliminary findings
indicate that the computer was able to
identify common characteristics of cries from
children with similar illnesses. It also
appears that children with sudden infant
death syndrome (SIDS) may cry differently
than normal babies. 5 7
Your ability to cry corresponds with your
ability to allow yourself to experience all
emotion fully, openly. You need not be afraid
to cry. My own experience suggests that any
emotion, whether painful or pleasurable, felt
strongly enough, precipitates tears. As Lynn
Kahn, psychologist, says, "You should take
advantage of a crying session. Dredge up old
hurts. You don't have to stick to the
subject. Get it all out, you’ll feel
wonderful afterwards.”68 I have found this to
be true without exception.
Men are discouraged from crying more than
women in our society. It seems no coincidence
that men suffer more disorders than women and
have shorter life expectancies than women.
Kenneth Solomon, associate director for
education and planning at Levindale Hebrew
Geriatric Center and Hospital, says: "The
Western value system is that expressing
emotions is weak and feminine. So men run
around with constant dysphoria, . . .
uncomfortable feelings, feelings of not being
right emotionally. The symptoms are an
increase in blood pressure, muscle tension,
thyroid and stomach secretions. . . . Nine
out of the ten leading causes of death are
specifically associated with the masculine

The evidence is coming in. We can no longer
afford to discredit crying and ignore the
consequences. Frey sums it up like this:
If shedding tears does help relieve emotional
stress, we may be susceptible to a variety of
physical and psychological problems when we
suppress our tears. As Hans Lelye noted in
The Stress of Life: "We are just beginning to
see that many common diseases are largely due
to errors in our adaptive response to
Many nervous and emotional disturbances, high
blood pressure, gastric and duodenal ulcers,
certain types of rheumatic, allergic,
cardiovascular, and renal diseases appear to
be essentially diseases of adaptation."
People who learn to hide their emotions from
others may eventually hide them so well that
they lose contact with the way they feel. In
our society, men have long been taught to
suppress tears. They also have a higher
incidence than women do of many stress-
related disorders, and live shorter lives, on
the average. When we understand the function
of emotional weeping more fully, we may also
be able to assess how much the failure to
weep has contributed to these problems.

We may also come to accept someday that a
parent's refusal to allow his or her child to
cry is a form of severe child abuse.
Stress enzymes appear to be particularly
destructive to the mucous membranes lining
your bronchial tubes, throat, mouth,
nasopharynx, nose and sinuses. I suggest this
on the basis of the relationship I see
between suppression of tears and the common
The next time you cry really hard, and the
next time you observe someone else crying
really hard, notice the striking similarity
between the physical correlates of crying and
the common cold. Many cold symptoms appear in
the process of heavy crying: your head
becomes engorged with blood and fluid; all
the mucous membranes become engorged and
swell. It seems apparent to me that this is
your body's way of preparing for the release
of the stress enzymes through tears. When the
tears are suppressed, the process is aborted
at the point where you are weakened and
vulnerable physically. The stress enzymes,
now concentrated in your head and lungs--
trapped--begin to attack the mucous membranes
of your head, throat and lungs. If this is
so, we ought to find heavy concentrations of
stress enzymes in the mucous secreted during
symptoms of the common cold.

Chapters 12- End