Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chapter 8- Healing and the Brain

This chapter, written by Alice Brand, discussed the idea of human's "emotional biology" and connects it to writing for healing. What struck me most about this piece was the attention the author calls to our common misconception of the roles that emotions play in our life. Growing up, emotions and rationality did not coexist in our house. If you were getting emotional about something, you clearly weren't thinking straight and your argument or position no longer valid or rational. To this day, my father's biggest criticism of me is that I am an illogical being. "You're too emotional, just like your mother." I've learned to not let it bother me as much as it used to.

Brand expresses similar frustration, saying, "I was angry with cognitive scientists for insisting that intellectual enterprises have sovereignty over emotion, for insisting that with human intellect comes an objective reality, an ineluctable truth." It is interesting to think about why this out-dated fiction continues to prevail in the public sphere as well. In fact, when it comes to learning, we find that emotions are the best way we can remember what we learn. Brand explains "...that in any given situation, fundamental feelings may be more immediate than the intellect, however crucial both are to learning and remembering." This is probably why some of our most vivid memories are our most emotional ones. This also makes me think about how the areas in which most students strive in are the areas in which make them feel something. When I think about the subjects in which I have excelled the most in, they are all the ones in which my passion (or frustration) has made me the most invested in.

I think we knock down emotions around a lot in colloquial language when really they are equally if not more intrinsic to our memory, learning and healing than intellect. Anyone who has been through a traumatic experience can tell you that they likely did not intellectually find their way out of it. The rational mind has no place here: it wants to know how and why, for which in many traumatic experiences, there are no answer to. In fact, it's been proven that one of the most common reasons for recurring depression is the patients obsession for figuring out logically why they're depressed. We need to become more comfortable with emotion, in our own lives and in academia, whether it be rhetoric or science.

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