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Emotions and the heart

by Jupiter60
Tags: emotions, heart
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Aug24-13, 07:26 AM
P: 29
Despite that emotions actually come from the brain, through language, we usually speak of them coming from the heart. Why is this? Why do we associate emotions with the heart? Is it because of how the heart reacts to emotions as to why primitive people began to associate them with the heart?
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Aug24-13, 08:18 AM
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It goes back as far Aristotle's De Partibus Animalium (parts of animals). Since people couldn't see neurons, I think there was a tendency to assume blood vessels essentially played the role. Blood was often overemphasized in early biological thinking. It was often thought to be the life force... or whatever.

Remember that they could still perform autopsies on the dead, so they were informed by more than just how hearts react subjectively, they were also looking at anatomy (but without microscopes)

"This primary source of the vessels is the heart."
"For the blood is conveyed into the vessels from the heart, but none passes into the heart from without."
"For the heart is the first of all the parts to be formed"

"Again, as neither the blood itself, nor yet any part which is bloodless, is endowed with sensation, it is plain that that part which first has blood, and which holds it as it were in a receptacle, must be the primary source of sensation. And that this part is the heart is not only a rational inference, but also evident to the senses. For no sooner is the embryo formed, than its heart is seen in motion as though it were a living creature, and this before any of the other parts, it being, as thus shown, the starting-point of their nature in all animals that have blood. A further evidence of the truth of what has been stated is the fact that no sanguineous animal is without a heart."

Aristotle's Book:
Aug24-13, 09:02 AM
P: 239
I think the predominant reason is that you feel strong emotions in the heart (through some biological mechanisms involving the pumping of blood), not in the brain, because of how the heart reacts to them.

Aug24-13, 12:50 PM
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Emotions and the heart

Quote Quote by Tosh5457 View Post
I think the predominant reason is that you feel strong emotions in the heart (through some biological mechanisms involving the pumping of blood), not in the brain, because of how the heart reacts to them.
Yes, you feel emotions in your heart/chest, so it was a logical leap to that conclusion. An interesting question would be why do we feel emotions this way?

When people have their feelings hurt, what is actually happening inside the body to cause the physical pain in the chest?

terms such as “heartache” and “gut wrenching” are more than mere metaphors: they describe the experience of both physical and emotional pain. When we feel heartache, for example, we are experiencing a blend of emotional stress and the stress-induced sensations in our chest—muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. In fact, emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the two are inextricably connected.

But how do emotions trigger physical sensations? Scientists do not know, but recently pain researchers uncovered a possible pathway from mind to body. According to a 2009 study from the University of Arizona and the University of Maryland, activity in a brain region that regulates emotional reactions called the anterior cingulate cortex helps to explain how an emotional insult can trigger a biological cascade. During a particularly stressful experience, the anterior cingulate cortex may respond by increasing the activity of the vagus nerve—the nerve that starts in the brain stem and connects to the neck, chest and abdomen. When the vagus nerve is overstimulated, it can cause pain and nausea.

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