Author: Dr Paul Ekman
Dr Paul Ekman is a master at spotting minimal facial cues in other people. He has described and delineated the ‘micro-expressions' that cast split second shadows over our faces indicating the true nature of our feelings. Ekman believes that emotions are what "make life liveable".
Emotions Revealed is more than just a manual in how to spot subtle emotional expressions in others. Ekman records in fascinating detail his early research in remote cultures which have not been exposed to western influence. His goal was to determine if emotional expressions are innate or culturally variable.
He describes different facets of the inner (as well as the outer expression of) emotions such as sadness, guilt and anger. His description of clinical depression isn’t really up to the minute but his ideas on controlling or at least influencing one’s emotional responses are informed by his own research and also influenced by certain Tibetan Buddhist ideas. The result is illuminating.
This book helps promote the sense that people everywhere experience the fundamentals of life in similar ways. He describes how emotions and their 10,000 associated facial expressions are largely universal. There are universal causes of sadness, such as a loss of a child. However, he discovered that the causes behind other emotions, such as pride, guilt and respect, are largely culturally determined.
Ekman describes the ‘cascade of changes' that physically happen to you when you are in one of one of the five salient emotions (sadness, anger, fear, disgust and enjoyment). He shows that we can produce these emotions in ourselves by carefully sculpting our muscles into the shifts that each emotion needs to sustain it. He thereby neatly demonstrates how each expression can produce the emotion as well as the emotion producing the expression. It’s a two-way street.
The book also shows a series of facial photos and Ekman invites his readers to match each emotion to each face. Your score should improve by the time you’ve read the book.
Emotions Revealed should increase your sensitivity to your own emotional ebb and flow and to the emotional lives of those around you - even when they attempt to hide them!
Review by Mark Tyrrell