Emotions are not the Adversary


Engineer, entrepreneur or architect woman shruggingThere are many issues in which Safety takes no interest. Just look at safety conferences, journals and publications in risk and safety and you will find precious little about: ethics, politics, holistic ergonomics, consciousness, personhood, professionalization and critical thinking to name a few. Yet these are the topics and issues that are critical if Safety is ever going to be professional. Perhaps one of the most silent and unspoken of all topics is that of the emotions.

When the emotions are discussed in safety they are often portrayed as the adversary, as an impairment or ‘contagion’ (https://www.sentis.com.au/emotion-workplace-safety/). In this mindset the emotions are something that needs to be ‘managed’ and ‘controlled’. Much of this mindset comes from Cartesian and Augustinian dualism where the brain and body are separated in a construction that demonizes body and sets up the brain as a computer. This delusion of cognitivism/behaviourism suggest that the human body is a ‘problem’ also evident in the nonsense projections of the Bradley Curve .

Similarly we see in the recent Mums for Safety Campaign  the projection/spin of rationalism and logic attributed to gender. It seems that when Safety doesn’t know what to do, it just makes up crap. Similarly we see at the recent NSCA Foundation SafetyConnect Conference, the ongoing fixation of talking nonsense to people. In what universe does it make sense to speak perfection to fallible, mortal and vulnerable people? But let’s get back to the emotions.

The human emotions are not the adversary of the brain. Indeed, the emotions and all mental states are intertwined throughout our whole body as Mind. The emotions are what generates our core sense of ‘self’. If we had no emotions we would have no sense of ‘being’ or personhood. Emotions are modes of bodily attunement with the lived world. Our emotions reveal what we believe about the world and explain what we are directed to. All emotions are about movement which is why they are best known as e-motions. All e-motion moves us: toward, inward, away from self or away from another. But let’s clear up some definitions:

Mood is an emotional state of lesser intensity. Usually the word is used to express a positive or negative state. Mood can be compared to the weather but emotions don’t become moods. A helpful metaphor might be to imagine that mood is like the ocean and emotions like waves.

Atmosphere/Climate is about the world as we are embodied in it. Humans are as integrated in the environment and are affected by it as they are affected by the emotions of those about them. Interestingly in Chinese and Japanese cultures the atmosphere is understood as a carrier of mental illness and where mental illness takes its origin.

Feeling refers to the sensation of an emotion, We often seek a word of feeling to describe an emotion.

Affect is used to convey the verbal and non-verbal aspect of an emotion. These are often evidenced in body language, gestures and facial expressions.

Emotion is a mind state (embodied) and not just a cognitive state. Emotions are highly complex and intertwined with a person’s beliefs, history and social meaning. James argued that there is no emotion are without bodily sensations, bodily resonance and affectability. Emotions are not a cognitive state.

All mood, feeling, affect and emotion tend to be unconscious that is, one is not aware until after an effect is enacted. Even then, one often rationalizes about an emotion and often disagrees with the perceptions of others about such affects.

Emotions have the following characteristics compared to Mood, Feeling, Affect and Atmosphere. They are short, immediate, pervasive, lack intentionality, are dispositional and existential. Emotions serve as an evaluation of experience in the world. Without emotions the world would have no meaning or significance. Nothing would motivate us to act.

Of course the demonization of the human emotions in safety comes from the nonsense discourse of zero harm. Zero harm makes an adversary of anything it cannot control. In dumb down safety anything like risk or emotion is made the enemy. So what does safety do by demonsizing the emotions and risk? It creates a delusional psychosis of denial where it has no language to tackle fallibility (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ), mortality and human vulnerability. In other words it simply concocts its own delusional world and speaks nonsense to people. How on earth can someone effectively tackle risk if they have no understanding of the basics of Mood, Atmosphere, Affect, Feeling and e-Motion?

Making risk and emotions the adversary of the brain doesn’t offer humans any hope indeed, it can only have a trajectory of brutalizing anything it cannot control.
How laughable that the NSCA conference highlighted such nonsense discourse. Good olde dumb down safety, one day it might become professional. For there can never be anything ethical under Zero. Any denial of fallibility can only be unethical and any activity that is unethical can never be professional.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

2 Replies to “Emotions are not the Adversary”

  1. The repetitive bile and turgid sludge served up at safety conferences and on other safety blogs is incalculably narcissistic and is merely infotainment at best.

    I can fully appreciate why you ditched social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter. The language is redolent of bar parlour bores with excessive and unnecessary use of exclamation marks, which is the shouting and much like eating in the street or laughing at your own jokes!!!!!

    Congratulations on the completion of your new book, I will order a copy imminently. Keep up the great work and continue exposing these charlatans, parasites and ignorant malaperts that helped David Cameron destroy the safety monster.

    1. Unfortunately Bernard a sense of vision cannot come through demonising risk, imagination or unconsciousness. It seems Safety is deeply locked in STEM and the way ahead is more of the same with tinkering about the edges.
      There is no vision from any of the Peaks or Unis in risk and safety, one is more likely to find it elsewhere. How wonderfully captured by the mantra ‘zero vision’

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