California School of the Arts

Analysis: Emotion vs. situation

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been in a valley of our lives where the path is too steep to climb back up and our only option seems to lead downhill. And although the path seems like an unending road, we also have the high points in our life— when we feel on top of the world.

In our world today, the past always clings on to us. Our fears chase us, our resentments block sensibility, and our anxieties shadow us; it does not matter that we run different races— they haunt us just the same. In truth, our brains aren’t very different from one another in the way we react and feel.

For example, we feel the same emotions on a different level— from a winning lottery ticket to finally achieving an A in class, or from the passing of a family pet to being dumped on prom night. The diversity of tribulations may be daunting, but looking deeper than our differing circumstances brings us to a level of connectivity through emotion.

Although some situations may extremely differ, Robert Plutchik, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, created Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions to prove this wrong. The emotions include fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, trust, and anticipation. This is not to say that these eight labels can describe us perfectly at all times, but they give us a look into the most basic dimension in which our hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls emotions) operates.

Emotions are merely dozens of active chemical messengers or neurotransmitters. They fly between individual cells, while others are broadcasted to the entire brain. With the perfect layering of signals on other signals, we adjust to how we respond to certain situations, resulting in one of the general sectors of Plutchik’s Wheel.

As a student in the Creative Writing conservatory, I allow my emotion to influence the personas of my characters in fiction. Yet, their life stories differ from mine in almost every way. Some may believe they are alone, that not many others may have been through the same situation as them. But people have felt the same. While their stories differ from mine in almost every way and some live in worlds that others have never seen, people still relate because of those levels of chemicals in the mind.

From both personal experience and the experiences of others, I can assume that negative emotions tend to stick with us more often than positive. Every story is different, but the stories we remember are the ones of fear, pain, anger, and hurt. This psychology is due to how the brain handles positive and negative information. Negativity generally involves more thinking, and results in a more thorough process of thought. With each event in our lives, hurtful incidents build up. It creates a wall of destructive emotion that seems to close everyone out.

Our false sense of disconnection limits us to seek comfort from ourselves. I believe that this will never truly work for the better because in reality, we aren’t too different from one another, no matter what situation.