Dr. Candace Pert was, among many other posts, the chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health before going into private research. She passed away suddenly a few years ago, but her research has made notable contributions to the study of emotional intelligence.

In an interview, The Physics of Emotion, Pert explains that neurotransmitters called peptides carry chemical messages triggered by our emotions to every corner of our bodies. “As our feelings change, this mixture of peptides travels throughout your body and your brain. And they’re literally changing the chemistry of every cell in your body.” These peptides also create an electrochemical charge that radiates both within our bodies and without. “We’re vibrating like a tuning fork — we send out a vibration to other people. We broadcast and receive. Thus the emotions orchestrate the interactions among all our organs and systems,” according to Pert.

This discovery makes apparent the importance of our emotional state to every part of our minds and bodies and dispels once and for all any lingering Cartesian sentiments about their separation. An example of the operation of this discovery is the well-documented and widespread physical and mental damage that ongoing stress hormones wreck on those perennially stressed. This also suggests a physiological basis for the phenomenon of emotional contagion, which has long been established. Emotions, particularly those felt by people in a higher power position, quickly emanate to and are reproduced in those around them. These emotions may well be contagious because we are physically “transmitting” them, whether on purpose or not, to others who pick up our vibrations.

This research also makes plain that trying to consciously and cognitively suppress emotions is doomed to fail. Suppression has been demonstrated to intensify emotions, not eliminate them. Having the emotional intelligence skills to be able to accurately monitor and then internally change our felt emotions is the avenue to improving the messages we are sending to every cell of our bodies and to our colleagues and loved ones, as well.