Mental Limits and Emotional Style

Mental Limits and Emotional Style

Each person processes their feelings in different ways, and that is our emotional style It is a fundamental aspect of who we are.


  • 1 Emotional style and health
  • 2 What are Mental Limits?
  • 3 The energy of emotions
  • 4 The flow of sensations or feelings
  • 5 The concept of limits according to Ernest Hartmann
  • 6 Thin and Thick Borders

Emotional style and health

Our emotional style is more than the subjective and personal vision we make of life, since it has the ability to affect our well-being and health Physical as well as psychological. It is known that numerous chronic diseases are not only the result of external causes, but have their roots in our emotional biology.

The link between our emotional type and health explains why modern medicine (which usually establishes an "equal for all" treatment) often fails to successfully treat the chronic pain and disease.

Examining the interaction of emotions, chronic diseases and pain, and the success of the treatment, psychologists Michael Jawer and Marc Micozzi studied how chronic conditions are intrinsically linked to certain emotional types and how these ailments are best treated by choosing a healing therapy according to their emotional type.

The 12 most common chronic diseases could link to the emotional bonds we generate are:

  1. Asthma
  2. Allergies
  3. Chronic fatigue
  4. Depression
  5. Fibromyalgia
  6. Hypertension
  7. Irritable bowel syndrome
  8. Migraines
  9. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  10. Psoriasis
  11. Rheumatoid arthritis
  12. Ulcers

These authors conducted the study of emotional style which allowed them to identify our emotional type, as well as the diseases to which one is most susceptible.

Extending this connection between the mind and the body, they advised 7 alternative healing therapies to the more traditional pharmacological:

  1. Acupuncture
  2. Hypnosis
  3. Biofeedback bio-feedback
  4. Meditation
  5. Yoga
  6. Guided imagination
  7. Relaxation techniques

What are the mental limits?

The concept of Mental Limit It refers to a personality trait related to the degree of separation ("thickness") or connection ("thinness") between mental functions and emotional processes.

So, the thin limits They are associated with an open-minded but at the same time sensitive, vulnerable, creative and artistic ability. People with thin limits tend to confuse fantasy and reality, as well as to have a fluid sense of identity, so they tend to merge or get lost in their relationships with others.

People with thick limits they differentiate much more clearly between reality and fantasy, put much more emotional distance between oneself and the other, and tend to prefer well-defined social structures.

The energy of emotions

Our feelings are dynamic and energetic.

Imagine a time when you felt frustrated or angry and impulsively hit a wall or some furniture. Or think about how you do to "download" when you're worried about a loved one, work or your health. It is possible that you cry, shout, get angry, or on the contrary that a good laugh offers you that long-awaited emotional release.

The amount of energy involved can be immense.

We could imagine to one of our most beautiful emotions like joy, like a radiation of happy energy, which expands into the world, and one of our worst feelings like despair, like an inhibition of the energy that the individual recoils in him or her. That sense of movement is reflected in the word "emotion"in itself, which comes from Latin emovere, which means "pass from" or "exit from".

This movement is characterized by changes in activity within our bodies.

Changes in the chemical profile of the body ... changes in the organs ... changes in the degree of muscle contractions ... and changes in our neuronal circuits. In sum, change connotes movement, and movement connotes energy.

While we use calories to measure the intake and expenditure of physical energy, there is no currently accepted "scientific" way to delineate emotional energy. However, an attempt to capture this linguistically has been attempted by many cultures and philosophies, linked to the concepts of health and healing.

Hindus call corporeal energy prana, the Chinese know her as qi. Freud found something he called libido and, at the same time, that Freud, a French philosopher named Henri Bergson called élan vitale, or "life force."

Whatever the way we choose to call it, it seems to protect people against debilitating effects of stress.

The flow of sensations or feelings

A simile would be to think that feelings are like water.

Imagine any feeling given as a flow of fresh, clean, undulating water through the body, in continuous motion.

In people whose limits are thinner, the flow is faster and more direct. The people that have wider limits, the flow is slower and less direct. Remember, however, that each of us is to some extent psychosomatic, that is, our minds and our bodies function as one.

Given the inherent differences in the type of limit, we can imagine that the flow of feelings meander through different places, and cause different effects from person to person. In one person, it can accumulate in a particular place, in a meander of the river, while in another it can be freely cascaded down. In a third person, the flow can be repressed or retained.

A person with a thin border, especially, seems to be very sensitive, reactive, even "frivolous", because their feelings flow rapidly through the body. An especially thick border person, on the other hand, seems distant, unperturbed, even "bored" because his feelings proceed more slowly.

And while some feelings usually register in our conscience, others - the most intensive or threatening type - can be left aside, repressed or denied.

The concept of limits according to Ernest Hartmann

Because we are limited within our body, we are able to have different minds and personalities.

The concept of Limits, developed by Ernest Hartmann, M.D., of Tufts University, is a very useful way of looking at personality differences and understand why a person can develop a chronic disease that is clearly different from the others.

Limits are more than a measure of introversion or extroversion of an open or closed mind, sympathy or hostility, or any other personality trait.

Limits are a way of assessing the characteristic way in which a person sees himself and the way he operates in the world Based on how that person takes care of the energy of feelings.

To what extent are the stimuli "let in" or "kept out"? How are a person's feelings processed internally? Limits are a fresh and unique way to evaluate how we work.

According to Hartmann, each of us can be characterized by a spectrum of limits from "thick" to "thin."

According to his words:

  • There is people who seem very solid and well organized, keep everything in place. They are well defended. They seem rigid, even inflexible, sometimes we talk about them as being "thick skinned". These people, in my opinion, have very thick limits.
  • On the other end are the people who are especially sensitive, open, or vulnerable. In their minds, things are relatively fluid ... These people have particularly thin limits.

Hartmann first came to this conception in an interesting way.

In the 1980s, he was studying people who had nightmares and realized that some could also easily recover others. vivid dreams, sensations, smells ... even if they did not qualify as nightmares. These people seemed to him especially "sensitive," "vulnerable," or "imaginative," in contrast to other people who seemed more "solid," "stoic," or "persevering."

He suspected that they exist real differences between the brain and the body of people of thin and thick boundaries, and developed a questionnaire to get a clearer view.

Since 1980, at least 5,000 people have completed the Hartmann Boundary Questionnaire (BQ) and more than 100 published articles have referenced it. The scores on the BQ are distributed across the entire spectrum of the borders in a Gaussian bell-shaped curve.

Women tend to score significantly thinner than men, and older people tend to get a somewhat thicker score than younger people.

It may interest you: Empathy: differences between men and women

Thin and Thick Borders

The evidence shows that people with thinner limits are very sensitive in a variety of ways and from an early age:

  • They react more strongly than other individuals to sensory stimuli and may become agitated due to bright lights, loud sounds, smells, particular tastes or textures.
  • They respond more strongly to physical and emotional pain in themselves and in others.
  • They may become stressed or fatigued due to an overload of sensory or emotional information.
  • They are more allergic and their immune systems are apparently more reactive.
  • They feel more deeply affected (or remember being more deeply affected) by childhood events.

In a nutshell, people with very thin borders are like walking antennas, whose entire bodies and brains seem prepared to realize what is happening in their environment and internalize it.

The chronic diseases that these people develop will reflect this style "hyper"of feeling.

People with thicker limits, on the other hand, are described as stolid, rigid, relentless or thick-skinned:

  • They tend to put aside emotional discomfort in favor of simply "handling" the situation and maintaining a calm attitude. In practice, they suppress or deny strong feelings.
  • They could experience a permanent feeling of weariness, emptiness and
  • Experiments show, however, that people with thick boundaries are not really feeling less. Body indicators (for example, heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, hand temperature, muscle tension) show considerable agitation despite superficial claims of being unperturbed.

In short, the people of thicker limits do not capture the same amount of their environment and are much slower in recognizing what they are feeling. However, they are affected as much as people of thin boundaries by what is happening inside.

The differences ultimately, according to Ernest Hartmann, will manifest in different types of chronic diseases.

Do not miss: Emotional Limits Test