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What are Normal Emotions?

Little girl showing different emotions

Normal emotions (euthymia) 

Emotion is commonly thought of as opposed to reason, but emotion works with reason to enable us to navigate our world. Unfortunate people with damage to their emotional brain reason less well than people whose emotional and rational brains are intact. 

Our emotional brain, like every other part of us, can malfunction. A malfunctioning emotional brain can cause a person to feel sad, anxious, or angry when other people would not feel sad, anxious, or angry. These emotions have become unreliable guides, and they are distressing. 

The distress in the moment often distorts one’s ability to report one’s emotional history accurately. And the desire to escape distress often motivates a person to be satisfied with not feeling so badly when the object of psychiatric treatment should be to restore one’s emotions to their normal state.  

A working description of normal emotions (technically referred to as euthymia), therefore, is of the utmost importance to the diagnosis and treatment of malfunctioning emotions.  

Normal emotions start with a neutral baseline, they are neither happy nor sad. The system is in a state of readiness to report the emotional value of whatever is going to happen next. While waiting in line to get into the theatre we are not happy or sad. We are anticipating seeing the movie.  

Out of this state of readiness, positive emotions occur in response to positive events. The movie is entertaining, and we are satisfied by the ending.  We have positive feelings. But if the movie is boring, we do not like the characters, and the ending is unsatisfying, we feel disappointed, we experience negative feelings.  

A neutral baseline, positive emotions when other people would feel positive emotions, and negative emotions when other people would feel negative emotions. That is what we experience when our emotions are functioning properly, and that should be what we experience when our emotions, through treatment, have been restored to their proper functioning state.  

If you want to navigate your world with emotional and rational clarity, it's important to restore your emotions to their normal state. Contact Live Well Psychiatry today to take the first step towards healing.

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