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EMOTIONS REVEALED
by Paul Ekman
Times Books ISBN 0-8020-7275-6
 

Emotions are what "make life livable," writes psychologist Paul Ekman in Emotions Revealed, a hands-on book that flirts shrewdly with psychology and anthropology. Ekmanís more than 40 years of research have led him to the conclusion that emotions, and accompanying facial expressions, are largely universal.

According to Ekman, emotions themselves can't be turned off, but they can be controlled. In his book, he draws upon the Buddhist concept of mindfulness to explain how, by tuning into a personís own emotional triggers, one can develop a heightened "attentiveness," thereby side-stepping future blowouts. He addresses the "cascade of changes" that occur physiologically in an individual in the throes of one of five salient emotional categories.

Ekman has been studying facial expression of emotions for 30 years. This book is a document of this research. Over the decades, Ekman and his colleagues gathered evidence of the universality of seven facial expressions of emotionĖanger, happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, sadness and contempt. In every culture they studied a large majority could recognize the basic emotional expressions portrayed by people in other cultures, and others could recognize theirs.

Certain emotions are universal, hardwired into facial expressions and the brain. However, emotional expressions are culture-specific. People smile or display anger for many reasons, and they don't reveal these emotions when such displays would be considered rude or inappropriate. Ekman and his collaborator Wallace Friesen created a coding system that identifies each of the nearly 80 muscles of the face, as well as the thousands of combinations of muscles associated with various emotions.

Ekman found that when people try to hide their feelings, they use different groups of muscles than they do for authentic feelings. For example, authentic smiles of joy involve the muscles surrounding the eyes; false or social smiles bypass the eyes completely. In Emotions Revealed, Ekman, who is a professor of psychology at the University of California at San Francisco, beautifully interweaves his research with anecdotes, recommendations, and the behind-the-scenes flubs, accidental discoveries and debates that never make their way into published articles but that are the essence of scientific inquiry.

He reviews whatís known about the triggers, automatic and learned, that set off an emotion and how we might learn to manage or even get rid of them.

He then examines five emotions in detail: sadness, anger, fear, disgust and contempt, and the "enjoyable emotions." He even includes wonder, defined in terms of "its rarity and the feeling of being overwhelmed by something incomprehensible." Because of Ekman's emphasis on the universality of emotions, especially those written on the face, readers will not learn much about the raging debate about emotions that do not necessarily have particular facial expressions, such as pride, envy, jealousy, compassion, and romantic or parental love.

A renowned expert in nonverbal communication, Paul Ekman has led a revolution in our scientific understanding of emotions. Now he assembles his path breaking research and theories in a comprehensive look at human emotional life.

Emotions Revealed explores the evolutionary essence of anger, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and happiness. It answers such questions as: What triggers emotions and can we stop them? How does our body signal to others whether we are slightly sad or anguished, peeved or enraged? Can we learn to distinguish between a polite smile and the genuine thing?

Unique exercises and photographs help readers identify emotions in themselves and others. Emotions Revealed is a practical, mind-opening, and potentially life-changing exploration.

Buy this book...

 

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