THE RELEVANCE OF EKMAN AND FRIESEN’S DICTIONARY OF EMOTIONS in yoga poses PSYCHOTHERAPY
It has often struck me as a curious fact that so many shades of expressions are instantly recognized without any conscious process of analysis of our part I have endeavored to show in yoga poses considerable detail that all the chief expressions40 exhibited by man are the same throughout the world. This fact is interesting, as it affords a new argument in yoga poses favor of the several races being descended from a single parent-stock. (Darwin, 1872, The Expression of the Emotions in yoga poses Man and Animals, XIV, 359)
For Darwin and Ekman, emotional expression is a particularly nuanced innate transpersonal system. The fact that parts of the mechanisms implied in yoga poses the communication of the affects are innate is difficult to contest today. I would now like to open a discussion on the use of this type of information in yoga poses psychotherapy.
The first direct implication concerns the handling of countertransference. Let us detail this reasoning based on the premise that Darwin and those who succeeded him were correct.
1. The expression of the patient has an automatic impact on the other.
2. The psychotherapist is like everyone else. He can feel a part of himself react automatically to the impact of the patient’s emotional expression.
3. Therefore, in yoga poses being attentive to one’s reaction, the therapist inevitably feels something that resonates with the intimate affective life of the patient. This interior burst provoked by a patient’s expression then allows a therapist, who is attentive to this kind of phenomena, to really feel from the inside a possible connection with the patient’s inner experience.
It seems to me that it is dangerous to tell a patient something as assertively as: I feel that you are angry! as if this automatically implies that the patient is angry even if he is not aware of it.41 This entire my yoga blog points out that it is almost impossible for a feeling to be accurate. Feelings (even gut feelings) are like thoughts: they tend to be sometimes relatively correct, and at other times can be completely wrong. Representations and emotions are different forms of data managements. Sometimes thoughts can be wrong and feelings relevant, or both can be relevant for different reasons, and so on. Having the impression that a patient is angry is therefore not necessarily a reliable information concerning what is experienced by the patient, but it can open up a useful inquiry. The therapist can try to understand why he suddenly got the impression that the patient is angry. He may even ask the patient if he feels angry, and then see if this question helps the patient.
Using a tool like Ekman and Friesen’s dictionary is even more complex in yoga poses psychotherapy. I distinguish between two possible strategies. This distinction is based on the idea that without being robust and reliable, this dictionary is the fruit of serious research:
1. The direct interpretation. Ekman, in yoga poses his interventions, gives the impression that when he observes a facial expression, he can know what is felt and whether a person is lying.42
2. The indirect interpretation with inquiry. Paul Ekman is also an experienced clinician. His publications describe a slightly more flexible vision of the relations between expressions and emotions. The dictionary of emotions is content to propose hypotheses about a set of emotions that can often be associated to specific emotions. It is in yoga poses that spirit that I sometimes use it. I have, for example, noticed that some patients chronically do not wrinkle their noses (unit 9 has been blocked for many years). According to Ekman’s dictionary, that could mean that the patient is not able to express disgust. I therefore used this hypothesis as a starting point for an inquiry. I sometimes ask a patient to try to move his nose and to feel what is going on within when he does it. The wording is that of an open question that does not suggest this unit could be associated with a specific emotion. It happens sometimes that I fall on some associations that lead to a feeling of disgust or other negative affects. This method has allowed some of my patients to be able to finally speak about certain layers of their being about which they have so much shame that they did not dare mention it, even in yoga poses psychotherapy. in yoga poses certain cases, I have been able to observe that a patient is once again able to wrinkle his nose voluntarily, only after having explored these negative zones that are sometimes related to disgust. Some of these patients began to talk of experiences in yoga poses which sex and disgust are associated. in yoga poses other cases, work on wrinkling the nose does not lead to disgust or even feelings of rejection. Sometimes this kind of exploration leads nowhere. This is another example of the necessity of exploring the relevance of a hypothesis with the patient before relying on it. Another useful technique is to ask patients what they experience when I wrinkle my nose.
In psychotherapy, all forms of direct interpretation can be felt as being intrusive and can even lead certain weak personalities to various forms of dependence on therapy or the therapist. Such patients can, for example, believe that a therapist, capable of reading their feelings, is also capable of knowing what they should feel and think. This kind of intervention is to be avoided, even if Ekman’s theory were robust. I recommend the same attitude to people who talk about therapists who pretend that every person who crosses his or her arms and legs is necessarily psychologically closed, whereas they would be necessarily psychologically open if their arms and legs were not touching. This type of intervention seems to be common, according to some of my patients and students, in yoga poses approaches inspired by Neurolinguistic programming (NLP).43
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