Released on 23 March 2017.

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How Emotions Are Made

The Secret Life of the Brain

4.16 based on 495 ratings & 98 reviews on Goodreads.com

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draws on the latest scientific evidence to reveal that our ideas about emotion are dramatically, even dangerously, out of date - and that we have been paying the price.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

Every lawyer and judge doing serious criminal trials should read this book.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC House of Lords, U.K.
A provocative, insightful, and engaging analysis ... You won't think about emotions in the same way after you read this important book.
Daniel L. Schacter, author of The Seven Sins of Memory
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