I spent most of my tuesday night discussing this topic with a friend.

As a trained psychologist, the topic seemed very juicy to me. I decided to do some research on it, either to support or disprove my points. The first survey I did disproved my point, I dug deeper.

Learning is top of mind for me anyway, so here we go.

Screw what people say about emotion. Emotion is everything. Science understands this and is making new discoveries about the nature of emotions.

Robert Plutchik in 1980 thought there were only eight emotions, and if the movie Inside Out can be believed, there are only five. Alan Cowen in 2017 identified 27, and Watt Smith in her book documented over 150 emotions!

Why would my friend think it is possible to feel all emotions by early adulthood?

Research has even proven that emotions are not clear and distinct, but experienced along a slope. I tried explaining this to my friend – As a kid, I might have experienced ‘sadness’ when my mum goes out without me but that emotion is totally different from the one I’d feel if she dies, that’s ‘grief’.

That experience would have me feeling the same sadness I’ve experienced in my life overtime but it is on a new level, it is in the form of grief.

Evolutionary psychologists argue that a few emotions evolved specifically to protect us from harm – like disgust, or help forge communities – like happiness, which would mean that we feel new emotions in reaction to new experiences.

In a way, I’d say my friend is right by saying it is possible to feel all emotions by early adulthood.

This does not mean I am wrong though.

Let’s analyse this from the angle of ‘basic’ emotions – Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Disgust, Surprise, Trust, Anticipation – we all would have experienced these at one point or the other by early adulthood.

Now, let’s plug in my argument by focusing on the 156 emotions Watt Smith found. I don’t think our emotions would have evolved to that height because due to age and maturation, our experiences haven’t allowed us to feel them. She identified some emotions I feel most humans have never and will never feel.

Like…
Toska – “a longing with nothing to long for”
Ngulu – “the creeping dread that a rival is seeking revenge”
Kanarunvtju – “the terror felt when malevolent spirits are around”

With these few points of mine, I hope you agree that I am right in a way and he is also right in a way!

You could share your thoughts also.