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This Emotional Life: Facing Our Fears

Airs Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

The Davies family featured in

Credit: Courtesy of This Emotional Life

Above: The Davies family featured in "This Emotional Life: Facing Our Fears"

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This three-part series explores ways to improve social relationships, learn to cope with depression and anxiety and become more positive, resilient individuals. The series host, Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of 'Stumbling on Happiness," Professor Daniel Gilbert, talks with experts about the latest science on what makes us “tick” and how we can find support for the emotional issues we all face. Each episode weaves the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest scientific research, along with revealing comments from celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Richard Gere.

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The second episode looks at emotions that are commonly regarded as obstacles to happiness — anger, fear, anxiety and despair. Why do we have these emotions and how can we best manage them? Everyone wants to be happy, but nature has a different plan. Our brains are designed for survival, and the negative emotions they create are vital to that mission. But those negative emotions can spiral out of control with debilitating effects.

Viewers meet a woman whose inability to control her temper is jeopardizing her relationships, a college student whose fear of flying is limiting her life and a teenager who is struggling to overcome clinical depression on the eve of attending college. Viewers also meet veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and follow their journeys to find effective treatment. Across the episode, science reveals that we are two minds — a rational brain that’s relatively new and an emotional brain that’s older than time. Sometimes emotion overwhelms reason, sometimes reason outwits emotion; it is the endless struggle that makes our lives so painful, so joyous and so interesting.

Watch an overview and the episodes online.

This Emotional Life: PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects millions of people who experience traumatic events. Bob, a veteran of the Iraq War, explains the toll his experience with PTSD has taken on his life.

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