Seven Emotional Factors
Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the relation between diseases
and mental activities. Emotional mental activities are categorized as
the seven emotional factors: joy, anger, melancholy, worry, grief, fear,
and fright. They are the main pathogenic factors of endogenous diseases.
The seven pathogenic emotions are physiological reflections of the
human mental state or are induced by various environmental stimulation.
Under normal conditions these physiological phenomena will not cause
disease. However, if the emotions are too stressful and constant, or
the patient is too sensitive to stimulation, then they may induce acute
and long-standing changes which result in diseases. Pathogenic emotional
factors are considered capable of disturbing the functional activities
of qi, for example, according to an ancient saying, "Anger makes the
qi rush upward, overjoy makes the qi circulate slowly, grief consumes
qi, fear cause qi to flow downward, fright makes qi flow disorderly,
overthinking leads to qi stagnation."
Different pathogenic emotional factors also selectively damage certain
zang or fu organs. For example, anger injures the liver, overjoy
injures the heart, grief and melancholy injure the lung, overthinking
injures the spleen, fright and fear injure the kidney. Although emotional
pathogenic factors respectively injure the five zang, they are mainly
related to the heart. The Lingshu says, "The heart is the monarch of
the five zang and six fu organs.... Therefore, grief and melancholy also
disturb the heart, and a disturbance of the heart leads to the affection
of the five zang and six fu organs."
Clinically, the pathological changes of internal organs caused by the
seven emotional factors are mostly seen in three of the zang organs,
namely, the liver, heart, and spleen.