The human limbic system is composed of a number of areas of the brain – such as the hippocampus and amygdala – which are involved in complex realities such as emotion, behaviour, long term memory and interestingly (to me at least) our sense of smell.
This system is an open-loop system – which simply means it is dependent on factors outside itself for regulation. There has been extensive research done to confirm what everybody already knows – namely that we are deeply affected by other people when it comes to our emotional well-being and stability.
According to Daniel Goleman, author of books like Emotional Intelligence and The New Leaders, this effect is so profound that it registers physiologically as well as emotionally. He says that even patients in intensive care facilities find the presence of another person so comforting that it perceptibly lowers their blood pressure.
“The open-loop design of the limbic system means that other people can change our very physiology – and so, our emotions.” (1)
Time and again, researchers have found that emotions spread through groups, this ‘spread’ can happen non-verbally as well as verbally, and this appears to be the case simply because of the open-loop design. It seems that we function together whether we like it or not, even when we don’t consciously choose to do so. It also seems that we need each other – for better or worse – in order to regulate ourselves, internally, as well as manage the world, externally.
The only way we can live, it seems, is to live together.
So – how might we manage that a bit better?
(1) Daniel Goleman, The New Leaders, p. 4
- EI Theory Part Two – Emotion and Biology (eitheory.com)
- Emotional Wound Care (eitheory.com)
- Fortifying Intuition, Sharpening Thinking and Deepening Wisdom – EQ (metabodymind.wordpress.com)
- Guest Post by Michael Cornwall PhD – Bandaid Your Emotional Injury (friendtoyourself.com)
- The Reticular Formation, Limbic System and Basal Ganglia (bellspalsycranialnerves.wordpress.com)
- The Limbic Imprint (drewstarr.wordpress.com)
- There’s More to Emotional Intelligence than Daniel Goleman (managementpocketbooks.wordpress.com)
- What Makes a Leader? (intagreat.wordpress.com)