How Emotions Are Made

The Secret Life of the Brain

4.15 based on 243 ratings & 56 reviews on Goodreads.com
Macmillan

Publication date: 23.03.2017
ISBN: 9781509837519
Number of pages: 0

Synopsis

'A brilliant and original book on the science of emotion, by the deepest thinker about this topic since Darwin'
Daniel Gilbert, author of the bestseller Stumbling on Happiness

When you feel anxious, angry, happy, or surprised, what's really going on inside you? Most scientists would agree that emotions come from specific parts of the brain, and that we feel them whenever they're triggered by the world around us. The thrill of seeing an old friend, the sadness of a tear-jerker movie, the fear of losing someone you love - each of these sensations arises automatically and uncontrollably within us, finding expression on our faces and in our behaviour, and carrying us away with the experience.

This understanding of emotion has been around since Aristotle. But what if it's wrong? In How Your Emotions Are Made, pioneering psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett draws on the latest scientific evidence to reveal that our ideas about emotion are dramatically, even dangerously, out of date - and that we have been paying the price. Emotions don't exist objectively in nature, Barrett explains, and they aren't pre-programmed in our brains and bodies; rather, they are psychological experiences that each of us constructs based on our unique personal history, physiology and environment.

This new view of emotions has serious implications: when judges issue lesser sentences for crimes of passion, when police officers fire at threatening suspects, or when doctors choose between one diagnosis and another, they're all, in some way, relying on the ancient assumption that emotions are hardwired into our brains and bodies. Revising that conception of emotion isn't just good science, Barrett shows; it's vital to our wellbeing and the health of society itself.

In the media

Lisa Barrett masterfully integrates discoveries from affective science, neuroscience, social psychology, and philosophy to make sense of the many instances of emotion that you experience and witness each day.
Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity and Love 2.0
This is a provocative, accessible, important book.
Robert Sapolsky, author of WHY ZEBRAS DON'T GET ULCERS and A PRIMATE'S MEMOIR
How Emotions are Made chronicles a paradigm shift in the science of emotion. But more than that, this book brilliantly conveys the new neuroscience of emotion in an understandable, extraordinarily well written way. The implications of Lisa Barrett’s work (which ‘only’ challenges two-thousand-year-old assumptions about the brain) are nothing short of stunning. Even more stunning is how extraordinarily well she succeeds.
Nancy Gertner, Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School, and former U.S. federal judge for the United States District Court of Massachusetts