Chinese philosophy developed a detailed categorisation of human emotions and their somatic effects. Emotional expression and experience are regarded as barometers measuring energetic quality of health (Wilson, 1993). This has been likened to the Freudian description of a fixed amount of psychic energy and consequences of repressed libidinal energy (Hammer, 1990) for the system.
In Chinese medicine, each organ has an emotional spectrum with a positive and negative aspect. Each organ and its energy system relate with each other in well defined and understood pasterns. This concept permeates the medical understanding of the culture (Wilson, 1993), which has always functioned on the premise that the realms of emotion, physiology and wellbeing of individuals are interdependent (Wilson, 1993). Organs and emotional states are intimately connected and provide the rationale for use of phytopharmacology in the psychotherapeut ic process (Davis, 1992). Chinese physicians enquire about patients' state of mind and identify relationships between emotional disharmony and the Zangfu (internal organs), treating both concurrently (Millenson, 1996). Emotions are regarded as detrimentally influential only in the extreme (Hammer, 1990), since when one emotional state dominates internal experience or outward behaviour, the smooth flow of Qi is impeded (Beinfield & Korngold, 1991).
It has been suggested that functions attributed to an organ according to the eastern perspective actually occur on a cellular level as identified in the western model. Understanding these parallel views allows identification of correspondences between the two systems (Tierra, 19998), something that western medical researchers are now seeking to corroborate in pursuit of expanding the biomedical perspective.
The dominance of rationalism in western social and scientific thought has generally led to dismissal of emotions as irrational, private inner sensations which are seen as the antitheses of the detached scientific mind and quest for objectivity (Williams & Bendelow, 1996). The approach to emotional disorders in the West mirrors the larger emphasis in western society on control of the body which is part of the rational emphasis of western thought. Pharmaceutical agents are often used to regain control (Lyon, 1996). However both psychology and Chinese medicine regard symptoms as indicators of unattended underlying issues (Hammer, 1990). Efforts to transcend the discounting of emotional experience in the West, often takes the form of giving primacy to psychology or physiology, such as a psychosomatic explanation, which only serves to reinforce the distinction between biological and psychological explanations, by implying causality (Lyon, 1996) through attempting to describe a linear, temporal relationship between them.
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