Inhibition and facilitation

In a number of chapters we have highlighted the roles that inhibition and facilitation play in the expression of emotion (see also Dalgleish et al., 1999). It was pointed out, for example, that many cultures have preferences for which of the basic emotions are permissible and which are not; thus, the Ifaluk treat happiness as a negative emotion because it makes the "sufferer" blind to the needs of others and full of pride for the self (Lutz, 1988). As the bible also reminds us: "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall . . ." We know too from studies of the nervous system that the current states represent subtle balances between inhibitory and facilitatory processes at all levels of complexity. In sum, inhibition and facilitation need to be considered at all levels of explanation in relation to emotion, from the neuron up to the level of culture (Dalgleish & Morant, 2001).

There are a number of points within the SPAARS model at which inhibitory forces might operate from the initial interpretation-appraisal, to the expression of the emotion, to subsequent cycles of appraisal. Route 1, the appraisal route (see Figure 11.1), can be temporarily blocked because it may be inappropriate to express the emotion in a particular situation, for example to laugh in church or to get angry with your boss. The capacity to temporarily suppress an emotion but express it later appears to be healthy. Vaillant (e.g., 1990) reported, from a 50-year follow-up study of college men, that use of the defence of suppression was predictive of good mental and physical health and stable relationships over that time period. In contrast, Vaillant found that use of the defence mechanisms of repression, reaction formation, and dissociation was less healthy. These defence mechanisms represent different types of inhibition within the SPAARS model. We have considered dissociation at length and noted that it can range from an emotion of which the individual is aware but excludes from the self temporarily, to the extremes of fugue states and dissociative identity disorder for which the individual has no recollection (Dalgleish & Power, 2004a). In these extreme cases both routes to the unwanted emotions are strongly inhibited, but when these inhibitory forces break down, the autonomous nature of the emotion modules makes them difficult for the individual to escape from (Power et al., 2002).

One of the most powerful ways in which facilitatory processes may operate in the emotional disorders is when two basic emotions become "coupled"—that is, they become locked in a facilitatory loop in which the activation from one emotion continually reactivates the other. Teasdale and Barnard (1993; Barnard, 2003, 2004) have presented a within-module variant of this process in which propositional output such as negative automatic thoughts feeds back into the schematic model. We would add an equally important within-module loop that is between the appraisal route and the direct route and that, again in extreme, would be apparent in the forms of fear of fear, depression about depression, and so on, in which the individual appraises a small amount of fear or depression that may have arisen associatively as a sign that the downward slope is happening again, thereby making the thing most feared more likely to happen. To take the case of depression, however, our argument is that depression can be seen as the coupling of the two basic emotions of sadness and disgust (see Chapter 7), with the disgust being focused on the self in the form of shame. The loss or failure of an important role or goal is a key appraisal for sadness in all individuals, but in those individuals whose self-worth is overinvested in the lost role or goal and underinvested in other domains (Champion & Power, 1995), the loss is also appraised to mean that the self is disgusting and worthless, and at the extreme the outcome may be suicide or parasuicide. The length of time for which the individual will remain in this sadness-disgust coupled state will depend on a number of other factors; for example, the extent to which the basic emotions are modularised and therefore unfettered by other emotions, the occurrence of further losses or failures some of which may be brought about by the individual, and through changes in physiology which may also be appraised in a depressogenic manner.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Eliminating Stress and Anxiety From Your Life

Eliminating Stress and Anxiety From Your Life

It seems like you hear it all the time from nearly every one you know I'm SO stressed out!? Pressures abound in this world today. Those pressures cause stress and anxiety, and often we are ill-equipped to deal with those stressors that trigger anxiety and other feelings that can make us sick. Literally, sick.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment