Sadness

Sadness is an emotion that is the opposite of joy and happiness. It can be experienced under normal conditions, during everyday life, or because of a particularly dramatic event, such as a loss, a bereavement or a disappearance. It is one of the “six basic emotions” described by Paul Ekman, along with happiness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust.

The moment of sadness represents the encounter between desire and its own limitations. It is not the outside that somehow delimits desire, but rather these limits are constitutive of desire itself. Accepting one’s own limitation helps in some way to overcome sadness. This feeling is especially characteristic of artists, who are constantly trying to overcome themselves. Many painters, poets, musicians have produced their best works in moments of great sadness and melancholy.

Sadness is a physiological feeling if limited to limited occasions. If this situation lasts for long periods of time it is called depression.

Sadness is not directly connected to depression, it can be understood as the beginning of a physical and mental illness such as depression, for this reason it should not be underestimated. Sadness can also be brought on by dissatisfaction or by not having made or carried out significant choices and decisions in one’s life.

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, sadness was found to be associated with “increases in bilateral activity in the vicinity of the medial and posterior temporal cortex, lateral cerebellum, cerebellar vermis, midbrain, putamen, and caudate nucleus.” Using positron emission tomography (PET), Pardo and his colleagues were able to elicit sadness among seven normal men and women by asking them to think about sad things. They observed increased brain activity in the bilateral inferior and orbitofrontal cortex. In a study that induced sadness in subjects by showing clips of emotional movies, the feeling was correlated with significant increases in regional brain activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex, in the region called Brodmann’s area 9, and in the thalamus. Significant increased activity was also observed in bilateral anterior temporal structures.

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