“This Emotional Life” Starts Tonight on PBS

Above: A man with Asperger’s syndrome talks about the challenges of living with the disorder on “This Emotional Life.”

PBS takes a look inside the brain and what research is telling us about how it handles emotions when its three-part series, “This Emotional Life,” premieres Monday, January 4th (at 9 p.m. on WNET, Channel 13, in New York City). In the first episode, “Social Relationships,” “social connections and relationships are analyzed and the neurological processes behind our daily interactions are revealed,” according to PBS. The series seems to be generating a lot of interest, because its Web site has been down much of the early evening Monday (or maybe the site is just buggy).

The second part, “Negative Emotions,” airs Tuesday night, and the final part, “Positive Emotions,” premieres on Wednesday.

The host of “This Emotional Life”is Dan Gilbert, a professor in the department of psychology at Harvard and author of Stumbling On Happiness. The show includes segments with celebrities discussing their own emotional struggles, such as tennis great John McEnroe on his well-known problems with anger and Chevy Chase on depression.

The Seattle Times notes that the series was conceived and co-produced by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The paper explains that “This Emotional Life” “explores the cutting-edge science that unravels some of the mysteries of human emotion, such as how infants form early attachments that determine lifelong emotional health, and how therapists use eye movement to help people reprocess disturbing memories.”

But it notes that “This Emotional Life”also reflects Allen’s interest in connecting the research to the stories of real people and helping them cope with the problems discusses in the episodes. So, for example, it discusses post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and reveals how military families are getting help. And when explaining Asperger’s syndrome it also profiles a 29-year-old man with the disorder (video clip above).

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