Emotion as Energy

You know how sometimes you get SO angry, SO upset, SO sad, that your body just has to express it physically? Fist-shaking, tear-producing, breath-taking… all of these physio responses to strictly emotional states. I’m no doctor (well, not a certified one, anyway), but it would seem to me that these emotions only create chemical reactions within your brain & your body. As a result, your body’s movement, speed, temperature and oxygen levels change. The production of adrenaline, the most common emotion-induced response, forces your body to manifest emotion physically, which requires energy, sometimes vast amounts of it.

Think about the last time you had a huge fight with someone, or a time you got REALLY angry at something – your blood starts pumping, you can feel your heart beating in your throat, your skin gets warm, you start to tense up in your arms and your chest and your neck… sweat forms, your breathing gets deeper, your voice rises, maybe you even start shaking with rage. (Okay, maybe this is just how angry I get, but go with me a minute, mmkay?) Why does your body react this way? Fight or flight response, okay… but why can’t the mind discern the difference between a threat on my life (which would rightly invoke the aformentioned physical response) and a stupid comment that just tipped me over the edge, like the bus driver who won’t move the bus until everyone moves back but refuses to do anything to GET people to move back other than push the damn button for the pre-recorded message 928 times in a row?? Shouldn’t I be able to conserve the energy used by the Fight/Flight Response in all cases except when I actually need to fight or fly? What’s the biological reasoning behind it?

What it says to me is that maybe there’s no real way for the brain to tell the difference between fear & anger & sadness & despair. I think and feel differently depending on the emotion – I’m less ANGRY at the dude coming at me with a blade than I am AFRAID of him, just like I’m less AFRAID of the passive/aggressive bus driver than I am ANGRY at him – but the internal physical/chemical reaction does not appear to be differentiated.

What does this mean? I have no idea. But my question for you today is this: does the emotional response CREATE additional energy within your body, which then forces you to manifest it physically by shaking your fists and getting sweaty? Or does it simply DRAW existing energy from your system & cause it to come out in these intense, short-lived physical actions?

You might say that the evidence for DRAW is over-whelming; after all, don’t we all get exhausted after a big outburst or a sobfest of sadness? If the emotions CREATE energy, why wouldn’t it just be a spike in physical activity that returns to the base levels, instead of a spike followed by this trough of exhaustion? (This is where I wish Blogger had a graphing function so as to better illustrate it, but hopefully it’s simple enough to visualize what I mean.)

But if this were the case, that emotional reactions simply cause you to expend already-existing energy at a faster rate… well, you can see where I’m going: energy in the body = calories. If emotions consume energy at a higher than normal rate (i.e. metabolism), they consume calories much faster, which is another way of saying they increase your burn rate (a.k.a. metabolism).

So if emotions INCREASE your metabolism, why don’t we see Oprah and Jessica Simpson touting the ANGER Diet? Hell, come to it, why wasn’t Sam Kinison built like a slender reed? Why don’t we have Anger-exics refusing to eat in a really over-dramatic bout of rage or sadness?

If you think ‘medical ethics’ would prevent people from doing this, you’re dead-ass wrong. They approved Fen-Phen, didn’t they? At least the Anger Diet is all natural. Sure, the side effects are probably the same: high blood pressure, increased urination, sweating, sleep crime, loss of friends… but it’s free – you don’t even have a $10 co-pay.

I guarantee that if anger, sadness, whatever emotion you choose, actually BURNED more calories over a shorter period of time – the WHOLE POINT of our $10B a year fitness industry – someone (probably Susan Powter) would’ve launched this diet & accompanying cookbooks by now. So it must be true that huge emotional responses CREATE energy.

So what does that mean? Think big here, folks. Imagine a world…

… where we hook up angry fatties like Rush Limbaugh, Roseanne, Oprah, Ralphie May… all of ‘em, hook ‘em up to a glorified hamster wheel and let them power the whole damn grid

… maybe we even get the really depressed people all worked up & crying, then hook up their sobs to the Prozac plant so that the pharmaceuticals industry, one of the most energy-intensive industries in the country, at least starts to achieve self-maintenance

… if you’re a big fan of DIY or just want to do your part to save the environment, just kick your kid in the face, plug him in & power the oven for an hour until the meatloaf’s done. Energy crisis averted.

Of course, all the anger & depression combined in the U.S. can’t possibly be rivaled by that of the Middle East (yet another market they’ve cornered), so I suppose we’d still be a little import-dependent. At least it gives them a productive outlet for their religious rage – better than making women feel ashamed for “showing too much ankle”.

I don’t know, I think I’m on to something here. I’m writing a letter to Obama, let him know what’s what. He needs to fix it! Make it happen.

Makes sense to me. You in?