Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mario's other book: Consciousness, Emotional Self-Regulation and the Brain

Mario Beauregard (the lead author of The Spiritual Brain) edited Consciousness, Emotional Self-Regulation and the Brain, as part of a series called Advances in Consciousness Research (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2003). It's Vol. 54 of Series B, Research in Progress.

If you are interested in psychology, cognitive science, or neuroscience, you will find it quite interesting. The contributors focus on the ways in which we regulate the emotions we experience.

As we know all too well, in the current climate of opinion many people do not even try to regulate their emotions.

We've all met people like that. A few summers ago, while I was stuck in traffic, waiting to pass slowly, single file through a construction zone, guided by a police officer, I heard a driver cursing and swearing loudly behind me, deploring the inconvenience of it all. Actually, it was no more of a problem for him than for the rest of us. We were all busy people; otherwise we would be at the beach on a hot summer day, not stalled in traffic. I wondered idly how he felt about the way he was behaving. Could he hear himself?

Some people believe they can't regulate their emotions. ("That's just the way I feel. Nothing can be done about it.")

Others believe they mustn't. ("If you bottle up anger, it's only explode one day, and that could be a lot worse.")

And then there are quite a few people who insist, "I have a RIGHT to my feelings!"

Of course, learning to regulate emotions is not only possible, it is an essential part of growing up into a mentally healthy human being. Contributors to the volume Mario edited look at the cognitive strategies by which we do so using neuroscience tools and concepts. In The Spiritual Brain, we look at some of these same studies as well, but we minimize the technical stuff there.

As for the guy I was telling you about, the one who was yelling about the traffic slowdown: While driving away, I saw in the corner of my rearview mirror that when his turn came to go through the defile, the cop tipped his hat and handed him a ticket. So I guess learning how to regulate emotions can save a person money as well as grief.

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