Emotions: A Brief History
September 2004, Wiley-Blackwell
1. Meaning and ambiguity.
Emotions: signals of what is vital.
2. Evolution, culture, and a necessary ambivalence.
Inherited repertoires of emotion built upon by culture and experience.
3. Medicine for the soul.
From Epicureans and Stoics via the seven deadly sins to cognitive therapy.
4. Emotions and the brain.
Accidents, imaging technologies, the new psychopharmacology.
5. Social histories: emotions and relationships.
Social goals of aggression, attachment, affiliation, and their mixtures.
6. Individual histories.
Emotional development from childhood to maturity.
7. Emotional disorders.
Excesses of sadness, anxiety, shame, and anger.
8. Emotional intelligence.
What is it to be emotionally intelligent? Are there skills to learn?.
- investigates the history of emotions across cultures as well as
the evolutionary history of emotions and of emotional development
across an individual’s life span
- Oatley examines key topics such as emotional intelligence,
emotion and the brain, and emotional disorders in clear and
- interweaves three themes throughout: the changes that emotions have undergone from the past to the present, the extent to which we are able to control our emotions, and the ways in which emotions help us discern the deeper layers of ourselves and our relationships
“Only Keith Oatley could have written a book of this
type--a scholarly treatise on emotions that reads like a novel.
With erudition and verve he contextualizes the scientific study of
the emotions both in linguistic history and in the social context
of life. The examples and literary case studies come fast and
furious, but the book never overwhelms. It is a fast read but the
ideas and themes linger to be savoured long after one is
through.” Keith E. Stanovich, University of Toronto
and author of The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age
“In this short history, Keith Oatley captures the current
excitement of the ongoing ‘Affect Revolution’ and its
historical antecedents. As psychologists seek to decipher the
foundations of the many emotional values of animate existence, they
should not forget the many historical roots from which the current
blossoming of research is emerging. This gem helps put the field in
perspective.” Jaak Panksepp, Bowling Green State
University and author of Affective Neuroscience
“There are dozens of books on emotions these days, but
none like Oatley's new work. This original, wide-ranging, erudite,
yet accessible romp through the centuries of thought and feeling
about emotion as encountered in literature, philosophy, religion,
politics, history and anthropology, is a tour de force. A
consummate work by one of the leaders in the field of emotions
research, it is not only a scholarly work of tremendous breadth,
but a literary achievement in its own right--Oatley is a master of
the well-turned phrase and the work is rich in wry musings and
penetrating insight.” Carol Magai, Long Island University,
“Oatley's beautifully written book comes out of his deep
knowledge both of the history of thought and of the most up-to-date
research in the science of emotions… a masterly introduction
to philosophical and scientific thinking about the emotions in
personal and social life. It's all done with Oatley's
characteristic lucidity, his light touch, and his novelist's gift
for vivid illustration. …this book will afford fresh insights
and original perspectives to delight even seasoned scholars.”
Ronnie de Sousa, University of Toronto
"An extraordinarily erudite and well written book about all aspects of the emotions written by a leading cognitive psychologist. It ranges through evolutionary origins, emotional development (including EQ) and social aspects of emotions as reflected in both history and literature. References include the Brownings, Keats, Marcus Aurelius and Shakespeare while among the themes treated are emotions and the brain, emotional disorders and psychopharmacology. " The Scientific and Meidical Network