A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences studied over 700 individuals from Sweden, Taiwan and Finland, looking to explore where they felt different emotions in their bodies. They asked participants to record where they felt anger, fear, disgust, happiness and more when they were exposed to emotionally triggering movies and spoken narratives. The researchers had the participants map out the physical correlates of a wide range of emotions to see if they could find consistent “body mapping” similarities.
Did everyone feel anger in their chest or anxiety in their bellies? Do people with different languages and cultural heritage feel emotions differently and in different areas of their bodies? While most EFT practitioners are very aware of the concept of a “felt sense” of emotions, this is the first comprehensive study to validate this notion. Participants drew out where they felt increased and decreased emotions in their body. Anger resulted in increased sensation in the chest for example, pride was most felt in the head region, while happiness was experienced throughout the entire body.
“Metaphorical medicine” may gain support as greater insight is offered as to what might be occurring physically when a person describes feeling “sick to their stomach” when feeling disgust or when a person suffering from chronic upper body pain relates that their spouse has been a “pain in their neck” recently. "The use of metaphors is something that most EFT coaches use in their healing work every day", says EFT workshop trainer Dr. Craig Weiner, DC of EFT Tapping Training. Exploring with a client who has painful lower extremities and is simultaneously having “cold feet” about making a significant life change or the client with lumbar disc problems that can’t manage to heal a relationship with someone who is a pain in their, err derriere.
The paper offers this “Monitoring the topography of emotion-triggered bodily sensations brings forth a unique tool for emotion research and could even provide a biomarker for emotional disorders.” The implications for creating such an emotion and body Atlas are huge for the EFT tapping community and extremely relevant to those interested in somato-emotional techniques such as EFT. Hopefully future studies will go on to validate physiological correlating changes such as alterations in blood supply, hormonal fluctuations etc. that could further link ongoing dysfunctional emotional states with altered states of health and the possible susceptibility of pathological states.
Researchers included members from departments of biomedical engineering and computational science include authors Lauri Nummenmaaa, Enrico Glereana, Riitta Harib, and Jari K. Hietanend are to be commended on this important piece of research.