Emotional Rollercoaster - A Journey Through the Science of Feelings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 2006, 12:00am

Emotional Rollercoaster - A Journey Through the Science of Feelings


by Claudia Hammond


Harper Perennial, $128


This aptly titled gem is a chapter-by-chapter examination of emotions - joy, sadness, disgust, anger, fear, jealousy, love, guilt and hope - and how they make us who we are. Claudia Hammond, a psychologist and broadcaster for BBC Radio, has put together a story that brims with humour and sensitivity. Emotional Rollercoaster explores the sometimes odd experiments that scientists conduct to measure our emotions. Being handed (plastic) poop is a pretty good way to see which neurotransmitters go off to register disgust - but why disgust? It's nice to know that the brain's inbuilt survival mechanisms shut down everything extraneous so you can concentrate on staying alive. Hammond looks at the science, but also how the emotions manifest themselves, and why they occur in the first place. What is guilt for and where does it come from? Why do optimists recover more quickly from surgery than pessimists? Getting angry is OK, but people who shout all the time or bottle everything up suffer more heart disease.


 

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