Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Limbic Resonance is Real, But . . .

Limbic resonance seems to be the new fad term. If the first dozen googled items are any indication, most people don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t trust people who are quoting from quotes–it’s like the rumor game, distorted because they’re out of context.

And it becomes more fodder for the motivational crowd. Never occurred to me before reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided that the positive-thinking business is Calvinism revisited.

Does limbic resonance exist? Absolutely. We have all those clichés in our language–”she gave me the cold shoulder”; “an icy glare”; “a cool reception” or “a warm reception”; “fiery glance”; “hot mama”; “he’s a cold fish”; and on and on–that, like most clichés, are literally true. We respond physically to the emotional energy of other people.

But I worry that the term is going to be used to guilt us into thinking that we have to be happy all the time.

All the emotions have to be available to the public speaker. How can we speak up about injustice without anger? How can we give a eulogy without sorrow? And don’t we want our audiences‘ limbic systems resonating to our anger and sorrow?

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