Listen to Invisobilia

Listen to Invisobilia (NPR) Podcast from June 1, 2017 titled “Emotions: Part 1”:

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/01/530928414/emotions-part-one (Links to an external site.)

(It is sometimes easier to listen while driving or doing chores, like folding laundry or doing dishes. Feel free to do so!)

  1. What struck you about the contents of this podcast?
  2. Some of the ideas about emotions and the way trauma impacts the brain might be controversial. How did you react to these ideas?
  3. How would you challenge those ideas or how might you be intrigued to explore more?

example one

  1. What struck you about the contents of this podcast?

Referencing the central story of the motor vehicle accident, I spent a lot of time trying to find blame in the scenario, perhaps as a prerequisite to informing me which party do I think should “feel bad.” Podcasts are products of a creative process, but products nonetheless. I took apart the narrative whenever I could. Questions such as: Does the state have vehicle inspections to reduce cars with bad tires? Was the child in a car seat? What kind of highway was it, and should it have had a crumple barrier? How fast was the big truck traveling? Was Tommy in financial hardship from therapy or loss of work forcing his hand to bring a suit against Amanda’s insurance company? Does race play a role in getting a jury to award emotional injury?

  1. Some of the ideas about emotions and the way trauma impacts the brain might be controversial. How did you react to these ideas?

For me, the Invisiobilia podcast on emotions is a new take on the old argument of positivism; the one true truth is knowable, versus constructivism, the truth is only built out of your experience and social group. The premise of Lisa Barret’s work states that emotion is not in reaction to the external environment; rather, emotion is crafted from the internalized experiences, either passed down from your social groups or learned directly. I reacted to her constructivist approach to emotion by noting the objective, measured, positivist examples of cultural differences, and documented experiences of people with restored vision.

  1. How would you challenge those ideas, or how might you be intrigued to explore more?

A point of intrigue for me was how strange, I assume, you must feel at times if you are a humanitarian aid worker. Aside from language barriers, there is an overlaying set of cultural expressions, customs, and habits that would be challenging to interact in on a day that doesn’t involve a disaster.

example 2

What struck you about the contents of this podcast?

What struck me about the contents of this podcast is the section with Lisa Barrett, the psychology professor. Hearing her say emotions are built in our brain and that the whole culture of emotions is wrong. She describes emotions as “they’re as close to reflexes as you might get. If the stimulus is there, the response is obligatory. That’s the view. It’s an automatic reaction to the world.” Though yes, I can agree that emotions are in a sense a reaction that were built in our brain, however in my opinion I don’t think they are completely an automatic reaction. Spiegel then states that what Lisa is trying to say is that everything around you is a blob until the concepts in your head shape it into a thing, and then you respond to the thing that you just created. I think this is a concept I can get behind because in that sense, the way we react is due to how we process our emotions in the environment we grew up in.

Some of the ideas about emotions and the way trauma impacts the brain might be controversial. How did you react to these ideas?

I grew up in a torn family environment. My grandparents disowned my mother and 6 of her siblings (she was 1 of 10) when I was about middle school age. My life was flipped upside down. People who I thought were family now had to become strangers. And growing up in an Asian household, emotions are seen as weak and thus I was not able to fully understand what I was going through or even touch on my feelings. And like Amanda I had to keep my face flat, emotions were a burden and I had to control them. Now at almost 26 years old, just the sight of anyone having a close bond with their grandparents sends me for a loop. I don’t think I would have felt these emotions if this event in my life never happened. Going back to my first paragraph, we take the blobs in front of us and shape them into what we see. And they take the blobs inside us and shape them into what we feel. Which leads us to the point that we have more control over our emotions than we think we do. The emotions we have has much more to do with concepts in your head created by and based in our culture. And those aren’t inevitable. Those can be changed.

How would you challenge those ideas or how might you be intrigued to explore more?

Our brains rely on concepts, and concepts make our world, our culture, our systems. Which is why it’s useful to know which concepts are shaping us and which ones we’re passing on to each other and to our children. I am definitely interested in exploring more on the ability to control my emotions rather than suppressing them. I want my children to grow up in a healthy, safe space for emotions type of environment.