Emotional reactions are part of our biological heritage as social mammals. For us, as for our prehuman and preprimate forbears, emotions appear to have survival value—for species, as well as for individuals. Particularly in the vulnerable years of infancy (an especially long period in Homo sapiens), the behavioral expression of emotions, with their frequent accompaniment of interpersonal responses, enhances the likelihood of biological survival. For example, a newborn experiences the loss of physical support: his eyes open wide, his heart races, he cries; the observer interprets the child’s experience as anxiety, feels his own discomfort, moves to readjust the infant to provide support. Or, a baby’s mother goes away. After an initial bout of protest, the child lapses into a period of apathy and despair (“anaclitic depression”). This will engender in most adults a desire to provide emotional support for the child, such as physical support was rendered in the earlier instance. And similarly, even in adulthood we communicate both physiological and psychological needs through our emotional expressions, needs usually meetable and met by kith and kin.
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