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January 2023

The Jamaican body's role in emotional experience and sense perception: Feelings, hearts, minds, and nerves

Journal/Book: Cult Med Psychiat. 1996; 20: Spuiboulevard 50, PO Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publ. 313-342.

Abstract: When Jamaicans speak of feelings, they literally mean feelings: physical sensations. Emotions, which emerge through social interaction, comprise an unmarked subset of feelings. They can affect the mind in ways that are actualized in behavior. Emotions affect other parts of the body as well, in ways that follow from an equilibrium model of health. Non-emotional feelings index bodily disequilibrium rather than causing it. An example of such is seen in nerves: a chronic feeling-complaint that comes about when the nerves, associated with perception and sensation, are weakened, and which entails visual dimness, jumpiness, and joint trouble. Although exacerbated by certain social situations, and often used in social commentary and manipulations, nerves is experienced and treated as a physical rather than a socially-based disorder. By studying the bodily dimension of nerves and other feelings we may gain insight into the ways in which the body serves as a source of culture (e.g., nerves culture) as well as into how culture influences bodily experience. We may broaden our understanding of the complex interplay between the bodily and mental dimensions of people's lives.

Note: Article EJ Sobo, Univ Durham, Dept Anthropol, 43 Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HN, England


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