Understanding and responding to angry emotions in children with emotional and behavioural difficulties

Authored by: Adrian Faupel

The Routledge International Companion to Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415584630
eBook ISBN: 9780203117378
Adobe ISBN: 9781136303111


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Emotions, in themselves, are neither good nor bad. Yet some are rightly described as positive and some, including anger, as negative. In evolutionary terms, both positive and negative emotions have been, and remain, necessary for our very survival. In that sense all emotions are good (cf. Gross and Thompson 2007). The distinction between the positive and negative emotions lies partly in their purpose. All biological organisms from the earliest reptiles to Homo sapiens need to be able to respond to, and survive, threats from the environment and from predators. However, at the same time they need opportunities to grow, develop and reproduce. The threats are construed as negative and the opportunities (e.g. food, water, sleep) as positive. Threats produce fear and fear is an unpleasant subjective state, so all the negative emotions are felt as aversive. Yet even these have a positive side to them: negative emotions are rather like pain, which is very negative but also provides the person experiencing it with essential information that all is not well with the body.

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