Human Development

Emotion

Description:
Emotion is a term variously used to describe either transient feelings, or deeper qualities or ideals which have some permanence even in day-to-day life. Thomas Aquinas listed eleven such: love, desire, joy, hate, aversion, sorrow, hope, despair, courage, fear and anger; although many other lists have been attempted, with little agreement between them. In psychological terms, these latter "emotions" are usually referred to as affects, the energies which generate feelings. The transient feelings are considered: (1) to be generated to suit particular goals and support the carrying out of an intention (Adler); (2) the physical response (facial or bodily) to perception of some object; (3) the feeling aroused by such a physical response in relation to an exciting object. According to Jung, an affect is an emotion or feeling of sufficient intensity to cause nervous agitation and to only with difficulty be commanded by the will. Thus the affect roused when a psychic "wound" is touched is a means of identifying a complex. Certainly the emotions are acknowledged as important for morality and psychologically in shaping behaviour; neglect or over-emphasis of the emotions can result in damage to the personality. An inappropriately high level of emotion may inhibit necessary action; similarly, too low a level leads to indifference and failure to trigger the necessary response.
Although the path to self realization and knowledge of unity is said to be beyond the emotions, an emotional religious response may be a possible first step on the way. Religious ritual seems important in patterning emotional experience, although in religion as elsewhere the power of emotional response may be manipulated to achieve the ends of the manipulator.
Related:
Loss of soul