Disgust and its relationship with mental he alth

Disgust and its relationship with mental he alth
Disgust and its relationship with mental he alth

Disgust is a basic emotion that has not received much attention but has considerable influence on mental he alth. Disgust is an emotion that evolutionarily has allowed us to protect ourselves from eating or being near potentially harmful stimuli. It is an emotion, originally intended to reject and avoid consuming something that could intoxicate or poison us, or to keep us away from possible contagion of diseases. There are certain stimuli that, for a long time, were associated with these potential dangers, thus forming the disgust response.


However, and beyond the value that this emotion initially had for the conservation of the species, over time it was expanded and particularized, encompassing stimuli that are not necessarily harmful. Environmental factors, and personal history, are also at play here, where an individual can experience disgust at something repulsive that he remembers from his childhood, for example. Disgust also develops from ideas and images that generate rejection.

Within the range of obsessive characteristics, for example, individuals may feel disgusted by bringing certain fantasies or ideas to mind that they consider reprehensible. In the same way as dirt, blood, feces, sexuality, certain foods or animals can produce the same emotion.

The Disgustit has a great scope in terms of the amplitude of stimuli that can trigger it.

Recently, disgust has been considered as the prelude to fear in many cases. We can think that disgust in certain pictures in particular is the initial rejection, fear is the instance where that which is rejected becomes dangerous and necessary to be avoided at all costs. In obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example, dirt can generate disgust, and consequently it is the fear of contagion or "getting infected or intoxicated" that mobilizes to carry out rituals or avoidance actions.

The disgust is then what marks us the rejection. What we want to keep away, either physically or mentally. Ideas, as we have seen, also play an important role

People who are more likely to feel disgust can be led to develop phobias or avoidance mechanisms that seek precisely to avoid those experiences. The heightened emotion of disgust is often transmitted significantly in upbringing or across generations. If a boy or girl is taught that it is necessary to keep everything clean at all times, and is offered only certain types of food because their caregivers are selective or reject some of these, this is likely to predispose to greater selectivity and propensity for disgust in adult life.

However, the opposite can also happen, those who were exposed to dirt and a wide variety of stimuli, can develop disgust as a defensive mode.

Disgust itself is a necessary emotion, and it has a survival purpose. But it is the amplitude or the great sensitivity to disgust that can generate problems from a mental he alth point of view. Triggering, in many cases, all sorts of avoidance mechanisms as a consequence

Studying and analyzing this important basic emotion in interrelation with other emotions and with psychopathological symptoms is essential to be able to recognize its scope and be able to work on it.

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