New words to describe emotions

John Koenig: Beautiful new words to describe obscure emotions
February 2016 at TEDxBerkeley

What makes words real?

Once you realize that this world was built by people no smarter than you …

Are these words real? = How many brains will this give me access to?


Expressive power of a language

Does It Taste As Sweet To Say ‘I Love You’ In Another Language?
February 1, 2014
For intimate expressions — praying, lying, expressing anger, showing affection, even cursing — our native language is usually our strongest, says Boston University professor of psychology Catherine Harris.

Colm Toibin on Elizabeth Bishop

Colm Toibin on Poet Elizabeth Bishop
May 10, 2015

The celebrated Irish novelist Colm Toibin talks about his admiration for the poet Elizabeth Bishop and the kinship he feels for her.

01:45 confessional, autobiographical poems

02:46 her poems are canonical

4:34 people are very careful about what they say
people hint at things rather than declare them
language of restraint … everything is understated

07:40 we live in an age where you’re meant to–even with the most casual acquaintance–sit down and tell them all about how you’re feeling this week

08:10 somehow speech is not accurate enough, language is not clear enough


Language and music: same syntactical neural circuits

Art Tatum

Jazz Music Activates Some Language Centers of Brain
Science. 19 February 2014

As most jazz lovers know, the high point of a concert is when the musicians let loose and improvise, “talking” to each other with their instruments.
Indeed, modern jazz owes a lot of its appeal to pioneers like pianist Art Tatum (photo above) who introduced improvisation into the art form.
Scientists have long suspected links in the brain between music and language, although just what they are isn’t clear.

In a new study, researchers recruited 11 professional jazz pianists to engage in sessions of what musicians call “trading fours”—a form of improvisation in which two soloists alternate playing four bars of music each, riffing off of each other’s spontaneous creations.
The musicians took turns having their brains scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine while playing on an all-plastic keyboard (metal parts would be attracted to the fMRI’s powerful magnet), while their partners played within earshot. The scans showed that during the sessions, parts of the brain linked to language syntax—the structural way that words are put together to make sentences—were activated; but brain areas linked to language semantics—the actual meaning of words and sentences—were suppressed.
The team concludes today in PLOS ONE that language and music partly overlap in the brain because they both employ the same syntactical neural circuits, but communicate meaning in very different ways: language verbally, and music nonverbally.
This may be why music lovers often feel keenly that they know what the musician is saying, but can’t put it into words.


September 10, 2014

The ‘Thermal Grill’ Illusion

How the ‘Thermal Grill’ Illusion Tricks the Mind
Science. 12 December 2011

The trick is called the thermal grill illusion, and it’s the topic of a paper published last month in PLoS ONE.
If you feel harmless levels of cold and warm all at once and in a grill-like pattern, it can hurt. “It feels a bit like the burning of cold pain, when you put your hand in snow,” says Lindstedt, who works at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. “It’s a very, in want of a better word, weird stimulus.”

… silver, which isn’t magnetic. … strapped the box to her leg … they warmed all the bars to 41°C, cooled all the bars to 18°C

as expected the volunteers found the illusion more unpleasant or painful than normal hot and cold.
The fMRI showed that those experiencing the illusion had a particularly busy thalamus, a relay station in the brain through which sensory impulses pass, and part of the pain matrix, a collection of brain regions that manage pain.
The thalamus is also active during pain caused by cold allodynia, a neurological disorder in which even normal levels of cold hurt.

Emotion: more real than facts

Andrew Solomon: Depression, the secret we share
TED. Oct 2013

There is no such thing as love without the anticipation of loss. And that specter of dispair can be the engine of intimacy.

There are 3 things people tend to confuse:

  • depression
  • grief
  • sadness

What causes some people to be more resilient than other people?

You don’t think in depression that you’ve put on a grey veil and are seeing the world through the haze of a bad mood. You think that the veil has been taken away, the veil of happiness. And that now you are seeing it truly.

As I unwrapped the picture, I began to cry. And my mother came over and said “Are you crying because of the relatives you never knew? And I said, “She had the same disease I have.” I’m crying now … It’s not that I’m so sad, but I get overwhelmed …

21:27 That’s all I need now.

People come over to me and say “I think, though, if I just stick it out for another year, I think I can just get through this.” And I always say to them, “You may get through it, but you’ll never be 37 again.”

It’s a strange poverty of the English language, and indeed of many other languages, that we use the same word, depression, to describe how a kid feels when it rains on his birthday, and to describe hwo somebody feels the minute before they commit suicide.

What is the mechanism of resilience?
tolerate the fact that …

I have learned in my own depression how big an emotion can be, how it can be more real than facts, …


Dr Michael Yapko: How to recover from depression
May 14, 2018