The term emotion is commonly used as being synonymous with
feeling. In psychology, however, emotion is considered as a
response (to stimuli) that involves characteristic
physiological changes. They might consist of an increase in
pulse rate, a rise in temperature, a greater or less
activity of certain glands, or a change in rate of
breathing. These in turn then tend to stimulate the
individual to further activity.
Fear, love, and anger are usually considered the three
primary responses of this kind. They are aroused either
directly by some external environmental stimulus or
indirectly by some internal one through memory. As
individuals mature, specific stimuli no longer provoke the
same emotion in every person, nor is there any universal
manner of expressing a given emotion. In varying cultures,
emotional expression must at least be partly learned.
The development of Psychosomatic Medicine has emphasized
the physiological role of emotions, demonstrating that
tension from unrelieved emotions may be the underlying
cause of physical disorders. The term psychosomatic,
emphasized essential unity of the psyche and the soma, a
combination rooted in ancient Greek medicine. The treatment
ordinarily involves a medical regime as well as some form
of psychotherapy for the patient.
In recent years the term has taken on the broader meaning
of psychotherapeutic medicine, referring to a point of view
on the discipline of medicine that utilizes knowledge
achieved by dynamic psychiatry in treating patients.
Sigmund Freud, at the end of the 19th century, laid the
scientific groundwork for the psychosomatic study with his
theoretical formulations based upon new methods of treating
hysteria. His methods were reinforced by the psychobiology
of Adolf Meyer and the research of W. B. Cannon on the
physiological effects of acute emotion.