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Negative Emotional Contagion: How to Stop the Spread

A smile is contagious but so are toxic negative emotions such as pessimism, cynicism, depression, fear, hate, panic, anxiety and suspicion, as well as conspiracy theories, explains retired clinical psychologist Dr. Bruce Hutchison. 

“We live in a time when America and the world are facing an invisible enemy,” he said. “Social and political relations are fraught with turmoil … but turmoil does not come without emotions. Little has been written about the power of toxic negative emotions and emotional contagion in this time of global turmoil.” Until now.  

Dr. Hutchison’s innovative book, Emotions Don’t Think: Emotional Contagion in a Time of Turmoil, describes toxic emotional contagion as one of the most powerful forces at play in society and in politics in the last few decades, building to a crescendo.

 “Emotions are usually thought of by analysts as a ‘soft’ factor in politics, when, in reality, they are critical ‘hard’ factors because they cause the turmoil of our times,” Dr. Hutchison said in his groundbreaking book. “We need to learn how to handle it to help us adapt to today’s stress.”

 Emotions Don’t Think describes how to use systematic reasoning and critical thinking to put necessary limitations and stipulations on incoming emotions.

 “In this book, I use my psychological knowledge to explain how to stem the flow of negative emotional contagion in our current social and political environment,” he said. “It is important to know how to evaluate an emotion that comes at you in order to decide if it should be acted on as is, tempered, minimized or blocked.”

 Emotions Don’t Think presents a psychological perspective on events in contemporary society, with an emphasis on the effects of emotions and how they are contagious and impact the people who may absorb them. There are five chapters on overcoming the effects of contagious toxic emotions by using healthy psychological principles. It is Dr. Hutchison’s hope that these principles can be used to help society mitigate and cope with emotional contagion in this day and age.

 “People use these emotions to think, but emotions can only feel,” Dr. Hutchison added.  “Emotions don’t think.”