The final process within SPAARS that we wish to discuss is the proposal that emotion modules can become coupled. Emotions can become coupled within SPAARS in two ways: first, the generation of one emotion can initiate the generation of a second emotion which, in turn, initiates the generation of the first emotion, and so on; second, the same event can lead to the simultaneous generation of two or more emotions. Let us illustrate with some examples:
Anna gets very anxious about things in her life. Her feelings of fear and anxiety always make her feel sad and depressed as she dwells on what she has missed out on as a result of her problems. Such feelings of sadness in turn make her anxious that things will never change and she becomes caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of emotions of anxiety, fear, and sadness.
Looking back over events from when he was a young student, Ed becomes nostalgic. He feels happy as he remembers the good times he had but, at the same time, sad as he dwells on the fact that those times are in the past.
The first example, then, illustrates the cyclical coupling of two basic emotion states which reciprocally activate each other. Such coupling can also occur when an emotion module activates itself, as in fear of fear or depression about depression. So, for example, as we shall see in our discussion of panic in Chapter 6, it is possible for the experience of fear to become the object of fear, such that the individual becomes locked in a vicious circle in which fear activates fear. In contrast, the second example illustrates how two emotions can be generated by the same event; often giving rise to a complex emotion such as, in this case, nostalgia.
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