Context Outside of Art – Emotions

CPS Week Six

Emotions are something that affect our day to day lives. I wanted to research more into the topic because for something that has such a big impact on people I knew very little about them.

Emotional Bodies: The Historical Performativity of Emotions (The History of  Emotions): Dolores Martin Moruno, Beatriz Pichel:  9780252084713: Books

The first source I looked at was Emotional Bodies: The Historical Performativity of Emotions edited by Dolores Martin-Moruno and Beatriz Pichel. Dolores Martin-Moruno has 3 other published works and her research project at the time Emotional Bodies was published (A Gendered History of Compassion from the Franco-Prussian War to WWII) was given a Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship in 2017. Beatriz Pichel is a lecturer at De Montford University in Photographic History. Her specialism is in photographic history, medical humanities and the history of medicine. As well as Martin-Moruno and Pichel there were 9 other contributors. Published in December 2019 the book covers the purpose of emotions, approaching the topic from a subjective point of view and pulling on historical and social contexts. I focused on Part II of the book, Performing Emotional Bodies. This part of the book focuses on the emotional development within children and how at one time it was believed that infants and young children were not able to feel emotions or pain. The points made were made from a medical point of view having many different researchers to back up the points being made. It also touched upon the political impact of emotions.

The beginning of the part focuses on Charles Darwin’s studies on child development. Darwin evaluated the children’s distinct behaviours and reactions, even using his own sons emotional development to further his research. He believed that children lacked the adult human attribute of free will and acted closer to animals, acting purely on instinct. I found the idea of acting on instinct very interesting and reflected on my own emotional responses and whether I feel free will over my emotions or if I felt my emotions had more control over me.

“The art of screaming…from being service to infants, has become finely developed from the earliest days”

Charles Darwin. (Page 65 of Emotional Bodies: The Historical Performativity of Emotions)

The rest of the part continued to focus on ‘infant pain denial’, referencing Herr Kinderman’s experiments which tested infants senses and American doctor Lewis Starr who believed healthy children never cried. The chapter moved away from the area of emotions I personally wanted to focus on within my research although I found it very interesting how people acted and invalidated emotions of something they couldn’t understand or relate to. The fact infants were subjected to inhumane treatment just to validate the theories of adults says a lot about the way society and the way we treat people and things that we can instinctively relate to.

Darwins connection between free will and emotions lead my to my second source “What You Think About Your Emotions Matters” written by Jill Suitte and published on January 8 2019 on the Greater Good Magazine. The Greater Good Magazine whose tagline is “Science-based insights for a meaningful life”, translates scientific studies to easily digestible articles for the everyday public. It gives people guidance for everyday life from personal to professional struggles with scientific backing. The magazine is published by UC Berkeley, which was ranked 7th in the world university rankings 2021 by Throughout the articles there are many hyperlinks to the research or studies being mentioned adding reliability to the article. The author of the article, Jill Suitte, Psy.D, wrote her first article for the Greater Good in 2006 – two years after the publication began. Suitte’s own website ( classes her as a “free-lance journalist and a staff writer and contributing editor for Greater Good”.

Over all the article discusses the affects on accepting emotions and if we are powerless to their effects. Overall the article reached the conclusion that giving too much power to emotions, positive or negative, leads to a negative affect on mental health and wellbeing. The article references a study by Ronnel B. King and Elmer D deal Rosa, “Are your emotions under your control or not? Implict theories of emotion predict well-being via cognitive reappraisal”. Published February 1st 2019 the findings found after looking at a group of 335 Filipino college students, those who believed they had control over their emotions and thought feelings were malleable had better emotional wellbeing. The researchers concluded “How people think about the malleability of their emotions seems to be a crucial factor in emotional functioning”.

As someone who often feels overwhelmed by my emotional responses and highly out of control of them I found it very surprising that there is a possibility to gain a sense of control over them. In fact it is healthier to take control over the fact I am not a victim of control. It is important to note that the article didn’t touch upon the affects of mental illness and how that might change the feeling or ability to practice emotional regulation. The article gives suggestions on handling difficult stressors emotions such as mindfulness, which would be more effective for some people over others. Overall I believe that this view on emotions is helpful for everyone to adapt in everyday life but, it is important to remember that for some people struggling with mental illness.

See the source image

I wanted to continue looking into controlling emotion and the impacts of emotion. For my final source I watched a TED talk given by South African psychologist, researcher and author Susan David, “The gift and power of emotional courage”. Within David’s career she focused and studied ’emotional agility’ which was also the focus of her talk.

“Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility”

Susan David

Emotional agility is the ideology that an individual should accept their emotions as they come and embrace them as they change. David conducted her own study and found a third of the 17,000 person study judge themselves for negative emotions or believe they should repress their emotions. This way of thinking is rigid and is not sustainable for living a healthy lifestyle.

Author: Daizi Davies

My name is Daizi Davies and I am 19 years old from Cardiff. I like to draw inspiration for my art from my personal life and the challenges I face day to day. I like to experiment with many different mediums but the common link that all my work has is that it is highly autobiographical. My main aim with anything I create is to tell a story and make whoever is viewing it feel something. I am currently studying Fine Art at DeMontford University and I hope to grow as an artist as well as learn new things that will help me in my future as an artist.

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