I. What is The Emotional Detective?
We are all blind to most of our mental life -- without even knowing it. Ignorance about our inner world can be quite damaging. The Emotional Detective helps people understand their feelings by clarifying the meaning of conscious and unconscious emotional life. This body of knowledge will explain how feelings work, while this detective approach to introspection will help you understand yourself better.
Neuroscience has finally confirmed what thinkers from Plato to Shakespeare to Freud have believed: unconscious emotional forces govern most of human behavior. The Emotional Detective offers a dynamix model for understanding more of your iner world Drawing from research in psychology, neuroscience and related fields, this empirically-supported approach to your inner world will enlighten you.
The Emotional Detective maintains that, in the realm of emotions, what you don't know about yourself can really hurt you. By the same token, remaining blind to your mental processes and true feelings about past experiences may cause you to miss out on opportunities for growth and pleasure. The Emotional Detective teaches the natural rules of human emotional life, helping people learn to "play with a full deck" of emotional cards.
As people become more aware of their emotions they may feel more pain, but they will also feel more happiness. Getting in touch with your inner world helps us all become more sensually aware and playful; more able to enjoy beauty, movement, humor and joy. Readers are likely to start having more fun and feeling more pleasure, self-respect, gratitude and love.
The Emotional Detective suggests how to start building emotional muscles to: 1) improve the alignment (neuronal connections) between your experience, thoughts and feelings, and 2) to feel calmer in reaction to emotional intensity, confusion, difference and paradox. Readers can learn to better tolerate difficult situations like the guilt of success, being different from others, the regret about past mistakes, or the anguish of having more or less than others. Readers can learn to enjoy explosively intense experiences of nature, intimacy, beauty, truth, and love.
II. Why a Detective metaphor?
Detectives patiently seek to uncover hidden truths. They work backwards from crimes, to uncover the motives and events that led up to an offense. Emotional Detectives differ from other detectives in their focus: rather than looking for clues primarily in the outer world, they look within. Like other detectives, though, they learn to look past surface appearances, and to patiently gather evidence based on small incongruities that may not be apparent or seem meaningful at first glance.
The Emotional Detective's investigatory process shines light on parts of the pysche that operate "under the radar." Becoming conscious of the "full deck" of your emotional processes is a critical first step to being able to work with those processes to enjoy them more and to gain more control.
III. What is The Emotional Detective's Model or "Vision"?
The Emotional Detective is based on a user-friendly model and a variety of methods, maps, and tools based on it. The model distinguishes between universal innate emotions and individual feelings, while positing a multifaceted Self with three core aspects, and several levels of the awareness. This method teaches how to use this three part framework to explore and uncover a fuller array of our emotional lives.
Neuroscience has also confirmed that our mental equipment is diverse and layered, a real hodge-podge of developments reflecting many different evolutionary stages. Some of our equipment is reliable while some of it is finicky; other parts work quickly, while yet others work slowly. The Emotional Detective's model explores the contributions of three metaphorical aspects, or layers, of the psyche: the primitive, the social and the reasonable. These three aspects are not biological entities in your brain, but rather they are ways of imagining your experience of different parts of yourself. Personifying these three aspects may make it is easier for you to envision different inner forces fighting for control of you, which is often how it feels.
-The Primitive Aspect
Neuroscience reminds us that the foundation of our mental makeup is ancient, and reflects the needs and abilities of our most primal evolutionary forebears, like survival and reproduction. Some refer to this as the "reptilian brain." The Emotional Detective refers to it as the "primal"or "primitive" aspect of our mind. The primitive aspect is speedy and reliable, but kind of crude.
-The Social Aspect
Evolution has stacked more elaborate and sophisticated tools and abilities on top of the primal. For instance, evolution rewarded the ability to make social connections and to operate in cooperative undertakings like hunting, farming and the earliest forms of commerce. The Emotional Detective uses the term "social" to refer to these aspects of our mind. The social aspect is very powerful, working steadily -- both above and below the radar of our awareness -- to maintain attachments and alliances.
-The Reasonable Aspect
Much later in our evolutionary development came the "reasonable" aspect, or "reason," which tries to operate as a manager of the other layers of the psyche. We often imagine that we are acting solely on the basis of reason, free from primitive psychic or social processes. But as Plato recognized more than two millennium ago, reason does not always occupy the mental driver's seat; while we may think reason is the master of our minds, powerful psychological forces, many of them unconscious, operate quite independently from reason. The Emotional Detective calls this executive master the "reasonable aspect," recognizing its many weaknesses. The Emotional Detective recognizes that the reasonable aspect functions at its best when it is made conscious of the activity of other aspects, and it seeks to help readers address this very point.
How do these layered aspects of our mind operate together? Here's a loose visual analogy: the nested wooden dolls common in Russia, with one doll nested inside another, inside another, over and over again. One can look at the mind in the same way: composed of layer upon layer of differing psychological abilities and shortcomings, developed at different times to meet different needs, all nested inside one another, trying to coexist under a superficial impression of unity, like the single Russian doll that first appears to the untrained eye.
In fact, though, unity within your mind is often elusive, and separations between different aspects of our mind are not so absolute. Different psychological layers can conflict with one another and often coexist uneasily. Not all of them are well-adapted to modern life: as a film character recently observed: "we're trying to make sense of a twenty-first century world with caveman software." To continue the software analogy, it is as if our mind is an operating system formed by piling on layers and layers of conflicting software, some of which functions automatically even though it is largely obsolete and dangerous to use without understanding its limitations.
Antonion D’Amasio, one of the most important neuroscientists at work today, posits a basic dichotomy between "emotions" and "feelings." This same dichotomy, in various forms, has been proposed by philosophers like Spinoza, psychologists as diverse as William James and psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud. Emotions are physical reactions that occur in our bodies. They are automatic actions that happen inside us in response to change - we do not choose them. According to Paul Eckman, Ph.D., a well-renowned cross-cultural psychologist, we all have five basic universal emotions: fear, anger, sorrow, disgust, and joy. Each of these emotions has a distinct physiological signature and action tendency that includes globally recognized facial expressions and behaviors. Each one of the five basic emotions has predictable triggers, as well as more personal triggers.
Emotions often occur outside our conscious intent or even knowledge. We can even have secondary emotional reactions to our initial emotions (emotions about emotions) that capture our attention, while our initial emotional response goes missing and undetected. These secondary reactions often are all that come to our notice, often serving a defensive purpose.
In contrast, emotional "feelings" are the mental aftermath of our emotions. Think of them as the sense images, thoughts, and responses that accompany physical emotional reactions to change. Such feelings are the other side of the coin of emotions, the subjective experience of the physical activity in your body in response to change.
Emotional feelings include 1) perceptions of what your body is doing when it has an emotional experience, and 2) perceptions of the thoughts that you have associated with an emotional experience, and 3) perceptions of other bodily reactions and sensory impressions that accompanied a particular emotional experience. Your feelings are a response to your emotions in a particular context; they include your perceptions and judgments about your specific emotions at this time. Feelings are much more subjective, varied, and idiosyncratic than emotions; they are not universal. Your culture, family, and the particular circumstances of your life all heavily shape your reactions to your emotions and your subsequent feelings.
Regardless of their origin, our feelings about emotions will alter our experience and our expression of our emotions. But our origins are important: other people's reactions to our needs and emotions, especially when we were an infant, make a powerful impression on us, however, they usually do so without our becoming conscious of them. Feelings about our emotions happen so quickly, routinely and automatically that we often don’t know that we are having them. Nonetheless, they can change our experience of our emotions, causing us to have new emotions that then serve to mask our initial emotions. When our feelings about our emotions get us mixed up about the true nature of our underlying emotional reactions, we confuse our perception of our experience with our experience. This mix-up can cause everyone a lot of unnecessary confusion and pain.