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I Second That Emotion

The Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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Shaundra Daily’s software has been instrumental in helping girls understand their emotions, and apparently she’s not alone in her thinking. When I read this article in the New York Times, I was happy to know that other Shaundra’s exist the world over.

The piece shines a spotlight on the work of Mexican child psychologist Julia Borbolla, whose kid-like animated characters have helped get inside victimized children’s inner thoughts so that doctors are better able to help them. And the reason these “emotional agents” have been so effective at getting to the root cause is because most children feel more comfortable talking to a “kid” than to an adult. This thinking isn’t new – it’s just that technology has finally enabled doctors to put this rationale to good use.

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I Second That Emotion-dulas_168.jpg
This guy helps kids emote.

As someone who has been told all throughout my adult life that my animated facial expressions reveal what I’m thinking at any given moment, it’s hard for me to remember that I wasn’t always like this. But as a child, I internalized nearly everything. And while I was quite emotive and playful when it was just me and my Smurfette action figures, I shut down around everyone else. Not quite a “flat line,” to use Shaundra’s words, but close. So when I watched Shaundra’s videos and read the article, it struck me how important having this capability actually is in helping children. Perhaps if Shaundra’s or Borbolla’s software would have existed in my youth, I could have expressed my feelings and made others understand how my surroundings were limiting my ability to emote.

I’m comforted that the technology exists now to help other kids make sense of their emotions. So to all you Shaundra’s and Borbolla’s out there trying to make a difference, I support you.

And when are you going to build some software to help adults understand the rollercoaster ride we’re on?