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Medical Feelings vs Emotions

  1. Jul 6, 2016 #1


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    What is really the difference between feelings and emotions?

    When you are a male and you have a female friend and you told her "I have feelings for you".. she seemed to think you are in love with her.. but if you told her "I have emotion for you".. she seemed to think it is more neutral. Why is that? So I'm kinda confused how feelings differ to emotions?

    I told a friend what I thought feelings vs emotions differ is that when the body feels the emotion, it is feelings. But they have other ideas.. What is the consensus about this really?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2016 #2
    Emotions are lower level responses to stimuli which produce quick biochemical reactions to alter your physical state.

    Feelings are mental associations and reactions to emotions. When the body feels the emotions, it 'remembers' what feeling to have.

    Example: A threatening stimulus -> experience fear (emotion) -> feel scared (feeling)

    Emotions are in the body, feelings are in the mind.
  4. Jul 6, 2016 #3

    Fervent Freyja

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    They are used interchangeably too often for there to be a "consensus" on it.
  5. Jul 7, 2016 #4
    "I have feelings for you" is more or less an idiomatic expression, it just means that you like them in a romantic way. But "I have emotions for you" is not idiomatic in the same way, and its literal meaning would imply that you just care about them.

    IMO, feelings describe a collection of emotions that are associated with something. Emotions are states of mind that can be differentiated from others most of the time. E.g. Anger can be differentiated from sadness.

    What is more interesting is that how come these emotions can be subjectively differentiated? Although a lot of them are physiologically different, some of them are extremely similar from a physiological standpoint. For example, you cannot tell the difference between excitement and anxiety in the lab if you were to examine the state of someone's brain, but that individual themselves would be able to easily tell the difference subjectively.

    Maybe this is because our scanning technology is not advanced enough to discriminate between small physiological differences. But even then, it's interesting to me how an invisible change from a physiological standpoint can be the difference between an amazing feeling and a terrible one.
  6. Jul 7, 2016 #5


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    I agree with this for the most part, but I do see a tendency for emotions to be a more general label for the phenomena and feelings to be more often about specific instances of emotions.
  7. Jul 7, 2016 #6
    You can feel feelings and you can feel emotions. If you can say, " I feel x." then x is the feeling. For example, hungry isn't an emotion but can stir up some emotions. But you can say, "I feel like eating." You can also say "I get angry when my feelings for hunger aren't attended to immediately." Feelings are more general and can include or produce a whole range of emotions. Feelings are like the first response after a perception while emotions are usually secondary to the initial perception of the feeling. Emotions can also be stand-alone which is what mental illness may border on and need to be recognized quickly or the wrong perceptions, and henceforth, feelings, could arise. If you have emotions that seemingly come out of nowhere, and you have checked your basic instincts like hunger, wanting sex, loneliness, etc and they are not to blame, you should seek some help from a therapist. It can even be a trusted friend.
  8. Jul 8, 2016 #7

    Fervent Freyja

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    Well, all emotions are feelings for me. But not all feelings have to be considered an emotion. You can feel the vibrations in a household travel through your feet, plastic beneath your fingertips, or a sharp pain at the back of your skull, all of which don't cause an emotional reaction from me. I think of an emotion as a negative or positive reaction to external or internal stimulus that drives me to move differently than I otherwise would have had the stimulus not occurred. We may have thousands of feelings and a few hundred mild emotional responses in one day (a smile can even count too), but one extreme emotional response early on can almost ruin or improve the normal day we expected. I suppose that emotion may be defined as a strong feeling. Even a broken arm could be a painful emotional experience. But most of what we feel shouldn't be considered an emotion. I often find myself being only slightly aware when I'm nicked or hit something, it usually hurts, but cannot remember later how or where the cut or bruise occurred- we probably empty the memory of the majority of feelings we have in one day. I will soon forget that I currently feel the air blowing against my face.
  9. Jul 8, 2016 #8
    Isn't this really about language? Feelings describe the state of sensing some change, while emotions are labels for changes that elicit a response.
  10. Jul 8, 2016 #9
    "Mood" has not been mentioned yet.
    Does one have an emotional response to feeling in a ecstatic or bad mood.
  11. Jul 8, 2016 #10
    Hmmm... how many "moods" are there? We could say Joe is in a happy mood, but that is really just saying he is happy. Same for being in a sad mood. So is not a "mood" simply a description of experiencing an emotion? We might say that someone is in a good mood, or a bad mood, but again this is simply a descriptor for an emotional state.
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