Q. How come anger and fear are positioned between joy and sadness on the emotions staircase?

A. From what I have been able to determine, that visual representation of the four core emotions (joy, anger, fear, and sadness) relates to the amount of energy each provides. They are considered core emotions since they can be seen on the face of the fetus during pregnancy depending on what is happening to the mother.

  • Joy is considered the default emotion. The brain and body work best when in balance or homeostasis. This is believed to occur when they are living in a state of genuine joy, which generates energy for successful everyday living.
  • Anger, designed to help you recognize when your boundaries are being invaded, provides slightly less energy in the short term to help you manage that situation effectively and let go of the anger. The brain was not designed to “live” in a state of anger.
  • Fear is designed to help you recognize actual danger and provides energy to help you take action to protect yourself and those you love. The brain was not designed to “live” in fear.
  • Sadness is the fourth core emotion. It is designed to help you recognize a loss and gives you enough energy to grieve the loss, recover from it, and climb back up the stairs to joy.

Apathy is represented at the bottom of the emotions staircase. That’s a situation of immobility, likely contributed to by a slush fund of unresolved emotion. When in a state of apathy, the brain seems to barely have enough energy to stay alive. Studies have shown, for example, that when in a state of apathy, human beings don’t even have enough energy to kill themselves.