Emotional disturbances are very common in psychopathology, being present at a wide range of psychological conditions, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders, personality disorders and sleep disorders (Berenbaum, Raghavan, Le, Vernon, & Gomez, 2003; Kring, 2008). Their ubiquity and importance for the course of mental disorders have led many researchers to suggest possible mechanisms through which emotional disturbances contribute to the onset or maintenance of these disorders. In this paper, the …definition… influential theories are being presented and their methodological and practical limitations are being discussed.
Emotion and Emotion Experience
According to Berenbaum et al. (2003), emotion is “a system composed of several interrelated processes (e.g. autonomic nervous system, facial expression, approach versus withdrawal behavior) that attempt to promote adaptation by responding to the pursuit and attainment (or lack of attainment) of individual’s needs, goals, and concerns.” Emotions are believed to be constituted by several components, including expression, experience and physiology (Kring, 2008). The experience of emotion, according to Barrett et al. (2007), is a mental representation of emotion, including memories of feelings, hypothetical feelings and current feelings that give information on how such feeling arise. Emotion experiences have a specific content, which explains what an emotion feels like, and their properties are instantiated through neurobiological processes. The nucleus of emotion experience (or mental representation of emotion) is core affect, i.e. neurophysiological states that are experienced as feelings of pleasure or displeasure in respon...
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... that evaluates the affective significance of stimuli, originating from both the external and internal environment, and leads to emotional responses. However, this mechanism acts outside of conscious awareness with only its computational products reaching consciousness. LeDoux (1989) emphasized the distinction between affective and cognitive computations mediated by different brain systems, which, however, interact through neural connections between the amygdala and cognitive processing areas to contribute to the experience of emotion. Emotion experience can be generated entirely inside the brain without the participation of the peripheral nervous system (LeDoux, 1989). Nevertheless, if the central nervous system fails to produce an experience of emotion, the experience can be produced by the feedback from the peripheral system that reaches the brain (LeDoux, 1989).
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