The Seven Emotions - Psychology & Health in Ancient China
LARRE Claude & ROCHAT DE LA VALLEE Elisabeth
In the West much has been made of the holistic vision integral to the insights and therapeutics of Chinese medicine. Its advocates extol the merits of a system which addresses ‘the whole person’, and claim that this gives it alternative and complementary perceptions and approaches when compared with Western medicine. But where in the celebrated triumvirate of the body mind and spirit do we locate the emotions? The material presented here, transcribed and edited from two seminars given in London in 1991 by the authors, answers this question with a close study of the energetics of the emotions.
Examining classical texts, in particular the Su wen and Ling shu, the authors discuss each of the seven emotions in detail, showing how the internal organs are implicated in each display of feeling and how health and disease manifest in emotion. Etymology is examined, pathological and non-pathological manifestations of each emotion are described, and relationships with the various zangfu are set out. With this book the clarity of classical Chinese thinking about psychology and emotion is revealed. It shows how each sensation and display of feeling involves subtle movements of the zangfu, blood and qi, and has far reaching effects on our health and well-being.
An index of Chinese characters and main concepts is included for easy reference.
'[The Seven Emotions] offers a rare insight into the Chinese classics not normally available to those of us who do not read Chinese' - European Journal of Oriental Medicine. Excerpt from The Seven Emotions: Claude Larre: 'The heart is the root of the seven emotions. The seven make a unit of psychological life. When we have seven we are at the level of the jing shen, at the level of the life essences when they are flaring up, as the expression of the spirits. This is a way to understand how these emotions are linked with the basis of life which is represented by essences. And the highest point where life brightly expresses itself is the spirits. 'What is important for us, as people engaged in therapeutics, is to be able to understand through the emotions, where life may have a problem. Very simply, when emotion is present it is inclined to exaggerate something. We may be able to control the place where this deviation of life springs up. We have as usual, enough teaching to consider what the classics have to say about the levels of psychology which are indicative of normality and of pathology. Pathology is just an excess or a lack of something at the level of the five zang. The general theory would be that the constitution of man is such that from the roots of life he expresses himself according to the pattern of his individual nature and at the same time expresses how he is going along according to the line of his own natural destiny. 'We must always consider together what is specifically myself at the level of my natural origin and also myself according to my destiny. There is no problem therefore which does not endanger my destiny. This is very mysterious because we do not really know our own nature. We do not know where we are heading to or exactly where we are starting from. But the very fact of living is an indication of who we have been, and from that knowledge and experience of ourselves we know more of our nature, and we have some sort of enlightenment about the direction of our life.' 'This is of immense value to the practitioner today. In our Oriental medical education we learn of emotions as internal causes of disease, but the teaching and our comprehension of emotions as movement of energy can easily be distorted by the intrusion of modern psychological theory, and by the great emphasis some schools in the West have placed on this aspect in diagnosis. With this book. the clarity of Chinese thinking is revealed. and our observations and treatment strategies can be more rigorously analysed' - Caroline Root