Naming emotions by their name relieves anxiety

Naming emotions by their name relieves anxiety

We know well that express or verbalizing emotions, especially those with a negative sign, reduces their impact and intensity, but… why? Can anxiety be treated by recognizing and externalizing one's emotions?

All projects UCLA (University of California city of Los Angeles) a total of 30 people were studied, 18 women and 12 men aged between 18 and 36 years. The essence of the experiment was to show participants photographs of faces expressing emotions. Words such as: "angry" or "afraid"; the volunteers had to choose which of the two emotions was expressed by the faces. In other images two names were shown: "Harry" and "Sally" and the volunteers had to choose which of the two names seemed more certain than the sex of one of the two faces observed. While people developed this task they were performed a functional MRI. who revealed that when volunteers had to assign emotions the amygdala exhibited less activation than the situations in which they had to assign proper names. In the test related to the attribution of emotions only the right ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex was activated.

What does this indicate to us?

Let's briefly review the functions of both brain areas: the amygdala has the essential function of mediating alarm reactions and activating body prevention in dangerous situations. The area of ​​the right ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex is involved in the processing of emotions and the inhibition of behavior, thus an inverse correlation would be established: while the more active the area in charge of inhibiting behavior and processing emotions, the fewer responses. anxious we will present in front of them. In other words, the more capable we are of analyzing emotions and verbalizing them, the less their negative impact will be. If people are asked to name and classify their emotions they will feel less annoyed, anxious or sad due to the brain areas that become activated obscure or inhibit the functioning of the rest. This confirms the popular belief that talking about anything that worries us. improves our mood. Indeed, some psychologists argue that the healing power of psychotherapy is rooted in this maxim, regardless of the psychological orientation or the techniques used.
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