“A basic assumption of human behavior is that people pursue pleasure and seek to avoid pain. Then why is it that some people seem content to wallow in their misery, even boasting about it as some sort of badge of honor?” The article “Sad Brain, Happy Brain” addresses the common misconception that is made about emotion in the brain as well as addressing the fact that there is an increase in accepting the fact that one is feeling depressed or upset. The article goes on to list possible reasons for why people are addicted to unhappiness. For example, it is possible that it stems from a “deep-rooted insecurity or lack of self-esteem… ”, which “…may cause some people to feel undeserving of happiness”. Another reason is “lifelong struggles with trauma or other negative experiences may fuel an unconscious desire to continually return to the status quo of unhappiness” or they might be “… afraid to feel joy since positive feelings might be a ‘setup’ for disappointment”. Lastly, one of the reasons I found most intriguing is “some people who seem comfortable in their misery actually may be suffering from an underlying mental health disorder”. This article also talks about “a study by Eduardo Andrade and Joel Cohen, which evaluated why people enjoy horror movies, [they] concluded that some viewers are happy to be unhappy”. They found “that people experience both negative and positive emotions at the same time, meaning they not only enjoy the relief they feel when the threat is removed but also enjoy being scared”.

The article “Are You Addicted to Unhappiness?” talks about the different emotions our brain creates, and how they are created by the intricate parts of the brain, for “all mental processes, even the most complex psychological processes, derive from operations of the brain”. For example, the amygdala and hippocampus both play a large role in this operation. The amygdala controls fear while the hippocampus can control other emotions, it specifically “processes conflict, pain, social isolation, memory, reward, attention, body sensations, decision making and emotional displays, all of which can contribute to feeling sad”.

Can You Feel Two Emotions at Once?” is an article that explains how the brain affects our emotions and moods as individuals. Researchers found that “many regions fundamental to mood are buried deep in the most primordial parts of the brain; that is, they are thought to have been among the first to develop in the human species”. This shows that “… mood is evolutionarily important…” to our lifestyle. It also showed that “being glum can be advantageous and has been shown to sharpen our eye for detail, for instance”. This shows a reason why the brain would be traditionally attracted to being sad. However the article goes on to argue that “… overall, the brain seems geared towards maintaining a mildly positive frame of mind”, and it supports it by explaining that “being in a good mood makes us more likely to seek new experiences, be creative, plan ahead, procreate, and adapt to changing conditions”.

Lastly, the article “This Is How the Brain Shapes Our Emotions and Moods” explains how the brain and/or mind can feel two emotions at once, “and it is matter of two different emotions being accessible at any given moment. Rather, it’s a situation in which both feelings constitute you emotional reality but can’t be felt, or experienced, to the same degree simultaneously”. An example is the type of situation where one is “… loving someone who can’t – or won’t – love [them] back: the age-old dilemma of unrequited love”. Or “the almost indescribable emotion of falling in love, or being in love, has to be seen as one of the most positive, exhilarating emotional status imaginable… Yet also being aware that such adoration isn’t reciprocated can induce an equally powerful negative emotional state – also difficult to describe in its lamentable intensity”. This shows how the brain can also call upon sadness in a happy situation.


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February 12, 2018 4:29 pm

I love your topic! Its super interesting. Being sad is one of the many inevitability of life and it isn’t always a bad thing. Feeling sad is a natural reaction and I’m sure has some evolutionary advantage that I would love to learn more about. Addiction requires a dependency on substance, action, or in this case, a feeling. Just like how we like a certain high we can like the feeling of sadness. I’m interested to see how our bodies and brain change when we are ” addicted” to sadness. I look forward to more of your post my love!

February 9, 2018 5:34 am

Really cool post! Something I would be interested in you writing a bit more about: is the “Boasting about it as some sort of badge of honor”. I have noticed a surge on social media of self depreciational humor and the oh so casual “this makes me want to kill myself” posts. Something really scary about this is the reaction that it receives: thousands of reposts with comments such as “lol relateable”. I completely understand that humor is a way of coping, and I even find myself laughing along with this, but I feel as though this could be really dangerous. Seeing self deprecation as a norm can’t be healthy for your well being.

Anyways, I think it would be cool if you talked more about this trend. Looking forwards to it!

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