Mechanism and function of emotions: Angry, Joy, Sadness

Mechanism and function of emotions: Angry, Joy, Sadness

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Today we are going to talk to you about the function of the different emotions as they are, since each one plays an important role in our lives.


  • 1 angry
  • 2 Happiness / Joy
  • 3 Sadness


Being angry makes increase the blood flow of the hands, making it easier to wield a weapon or hit an enemy; it also increases the heart rate and the rate of hormones that, like the adrenalin, generate the amount of energy needed to undertake vigorous actions. In the case of fear, blood is removed from the face (which explains the paleness and the sensation of "running cold") and flows to the long skeletal muscles - such as the legs, for example - thus favoring escape. At the same time, the body seems to be paralyzed, if only for a moment, to calibrate, perhaps, if hiding could be a more appropriate response. The nerve connections of the emotional centers of the brain also trigger a hormonal response which puts the body in a state of general alert, plunging it into restlessness and predisposing it for action, while attention is focused on the immediate threat in order to evaluate the most appropriate response.

Happiness / Joy

It consists of increased activity of a brain center that is responsible for inhibiting negative feelings and quieting the states that generate concern, while increasing the flow of available energy. In this case there is no special physiological change except, perhaps, a sense of tranquility that causes the body to recover more quickly from the biological excitement caused by disturbing emotions. This condition provides the body with rest, enthusiasm and availability to face any task that it is being carried out and also promoting, in this way, the achievement of a wide variety of objectives.

Love, feelings of tenderness and sexual satisfaction activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the physiological opposite of the "fight-or-flight" response of fear and anger). The pattern of parasympathetic reaction - linked to the "relaxation response" - encompasses a wide range of reactions that involve the whole body and give rise to a state of calm and satisfaction that favors coexistence. The arching of the eyebrows that appears in the moments of surprise It increases the visual field and allows more light to penetrate the retina, which gives us more information about the unexpected event, thus facilitating the discovery of what really happens and allowing us to elaborate the most appropriate action plan accordingly.


This undervalued emotion actually helps us to assimilate an irreparable loss (such as the death of a loved one or a great disappointment). The sadness causes the decrease of energy and enthusiasm for vital activities especially fun and pleasure and, the more it deepens and approaches depression, the more the body metabolism slows down.

This introspective confinement this gives us the opportunity to mourn a lost or frustrated hope, weigh its consequences and plan, when energy returns, a new beginning. This decrease in energy must have kept primitive human beings sad and sorry in the vicinity of their habitat, where they were safer. These biological predispositions to action are later modeled by our vital experiences and by the cultural environment in which we have lived. The loss of a loved oneFor example, it causes sadness and affliction, but the way in which we express that affliction, the type of emotions that we express or that we keep in privacy is shaped by our culture, as it is also, for example, the specific type of people who They fall into the category of "loved ones" and, therefore, must be mourned.

The long evolutionary period during which these responses were molded was, without a doubt, the most crude that the human species has experienced since the dawn of history. It was a time when very few children managed to survive childhood, a time when fewer adults were still turning thirty, a time when predators could attack at any time, a time, in short, in that survival or starvation depended on the threshold imposed by the alternation between droughts and floods. With the invention of agriculture, however, the chances of survival radically increased even in the most rudimentary human societies. In the last ten thousand years, these advances have been consolidated and spread throughout the world at the same time that the brutal pressures that weighed on the human species have diminished considerably. These same pressures are what ended up turning to our emotional responses in an effective survival instrument but, to the extent that they have been disappearing, our emotional repertoire has become obsolete. While, in a remote past, an attack of Rage It could make the difference between life and death, the ease with which, today, a thirteen-year-old child can access a wide range of firearms has ended up turning rage into a frequently disastrous reaction.

Bibliographic reference

Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.