Seven Emotions

  • Joy  (In TCM joy refers to a state of agitation or overexcitement) 
  • Anger  (Anger could lead to high blood pressure) 
  • Anxiety  (Anxiety can block the Qi and manifest in rapid, shallow breathing) 
  • Pensiveness  (Too much intellectual stimulation can cause pensiveness) 
  • Grief  (Grief that remains unresolved can create disharmony in the lungs) 
  • Fear  (Fear that cannot be directly addressed is likely to lead to disharmony in the kidneys) 
  • Fright  (Fright can affect the kidneys if left unchecked)

  • Joy

    In TCM, joy refers to a state of agitation or overexcitement, rather than the more passive notion of deep contentment. 

    “When one is excessively joyful, the spirit scatters and can no longer be stored."

    The organ most affected is the heart. Over-stimulation can lead to problems of heart fire connected with such symptoms as feelings of agitation, insomnia and palpitations.


    Anger covers the full range of associated emotions including resentment, irritability, and frustration. An excess of rich blood makes one prone to anger. Anger affects the liver which results in stagnation of liver Qi (vital energy). This can lead to liver energy rising to the head, resulting in headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms. In the long run it can result in high blood pressure and can cause problems with the stomach and the spleen. TCM believes that ruddy, "full-blooded" people with flushed faces are more prone than others to sudden fits of rage at the slightest provocation.


    Common symptoms of extreme anxiety are retention of breath, shallow, and irregular breathing.

    "When one feels anxiety, the Qi (vital energy) is blocked and does not move."

    Anxiety injures the lungs, which control Qi (vital energy) through breathing. The shortage of breath experienced during periods of anxiety is common to everyone. Anxiety also injures the lungs' coupled organ, the large intestine. For example, over-anxious people are prone to ulcerative colitis.


    In TCM, pensiveness or concentration is considered to be the result of thinking too much or excessive mental and intellectual stimulation. Any activity that involves a lot of mental effort will run the risk of causing disharmony. The organ most directly at risk is the spleen. This can lead to a deficiency of spleen Qi (vital energy), in turn causing worry and resulting in fatigue, lethargy, and inability to concentrate.


    The lungs are more directly involved with this emotion. A normal and healthy expression of grief can be expressed as sobbing that originates in the depths of the lungs - deep breathes and the expulsion of air with the sob. However, grief that remains unresolved and becomes chronic can create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung Qi (vital energy). This in turn can interfere with the lung's function of circulating Qi (vital energy) around the body.


    Fear is a normal and adaptive human emotion. But when it becomes chronic and when the perceived cause of the fear cannot be directly addressed, then this is likely to lead to disharmony. The organs most at risk are the kidneys. In cases of extreme fright, the kidney's ability to hold Qi (vital energy) may be impaired leading to involuntary urination. This can be a particular problem with children. 


    Fright is another emotion not specifically related to only one organ. It is distinguished from fear by its sudden, unexpected nature. Fright primarily affects the heart, especially in the initial stages, but if it persists for some time, it becomes conscious fear and moves to the kidneys