Eleventh Post

This post is about the physical sensation of emotions. Or, more accurately, how I perceive emotions and how I know which emotion it is. I usually perceive the bodily changes first and then realise which emotion it is exactly – or not so exactly. Of course I cognitively recognise which emotion is or would be appropriate in most situations before feeling it, but often I do not “just feel” it; especially negative emotions are difficult to differentiate for me. Joy is easier, more immediate.


I recognise sadness as a kind of pressure on my chest, difficulties breathing in, a painful sensation radiating from the bridge of my nose towards my eyes and forehead and an overall inhibition in gross motor functions.


It is a similar kind of pressure but more from the inside out and less restricting. My muscles feel tense and a kind of heat builds up in my head, my breathing becomes shallower.

Fear – a little more difficult

Faster heartbeat, similar restricting pressure on my upper body as in sadness just more from the spine outwards and less from the chest; a feeling of coldness along with a compulsion to twirl something in my hands or touch haptically interesting surfaces to calm myself. If I am really scared an additional need to curl up and cover my ears arises.


A warm sensation starting in my solar plexus radiating from the centre towards the sides and then into my extremities as a kind of flutter, but without actual tremors. Again pressure in my chest but not uncomfortable; just so it feels stretched, like filled up with something warm and light. And a similar fluttery, warm sensation at the base of the skull towards the face.

Apparently contempt is another basic emotion but I do not have a sensational pattern for that; I do not remember ever having felt strong contempt towards anyone or anything. It is similar with jealousy; I just do not feel that, I have no idea why.

All other emotions are – for me – constructed as combinations of the ones above. Love is happiness in multiple levels directed towards persons; short bursts of joy from specific thoughts, touch, gestures from and towards that person alongside a constant resonating happiness just from the existence of this bond – plus numerous cognitive components like interest, harmony, sense of belonging and protection, etc.

(Emotional) pain is sadness and fear – and maybe anger.

Envy is anger and fear – and maybe contempt?

Heartache might be happiness and sadness and it feels so strange because it overlaps emotionally but the physical sensations are different..? It starts in the solar plexus, like happiness, but instead of radiating outwards it is more clenching and tightening and the radiating sensation is inhibiting or paralysing. Also there is a dampening of sensual input followed by the painful sensation behind my forehead which always precedes tears.

I think emotions are, in a physical sense, like japanese sauces. They all have the same five or six ingredients but taste very different because of the proportions of the individual ingredients.


Stress is also different; it results in a similar compensation compulsion as fear and sadness but is more concentrated in my head and less of a bodily sensation. My thoughts feel foggy and slow but at the same time somewhat erratic and I feel the need to concentrate on simple things which channel and restrict my sensory input.

How do other people feel emotions? And how is it to just “feel” ..?


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I am a psychology student from Germany with diagnosed asperger's syndrome. I love painting & drawing, cats, good smells, things that have interesting surface textures, music and sweets; additionally, I like making macarons, reading, (macro) photography and neurosciences. I found a few quotes which I either like very much or which I think reflect something of my character: /// I understand the concept of humour. It may not be apparent, but I am often amused by human behaviour. - Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, 4.5 /// I have never understood why it should be necessary to become irrational in order to prove that you care, or indeed why it should be necessary to prove it at all. - Avon Kerr, Blake's Seven /// Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition. - Alan Turing, Letter to Robin Gandy, 1954 /// We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done. - Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950 /// Null magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae. - Seneca /// It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it's an imperative. - Michael Collins /// We're still fighting the battles of tomorrow with the weapons of yesterday. - Mahbub ul Haq, Human Development Index

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