The communicative theory of emotions postulates that emotions are communications both within the brain and between individuals. Basic emotions owe their evolutionary origins to social mammals, and they enable human beings to use repertoires of mental resources appropriate to recurring and distinctive kinds of events. These emotions also enable them to cooperate with other individuals, to compete with them, and to disengage from them. The human system of emotions has also grafted onto basic emotions propositional contents about the cause of the emotion, the self, and other matters. Complex emotions always contain such contents, whereas basic emotions can be experienced without them. This article explains the role of basic emotions in social relationships, their effects on reasoning, and their pathology in psychological illness, such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.