The Strange World of Emotion

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Introduction :
Part 1



Everyone experiences emotions, but few people can accurately identify them, except for some intense ones such as fear and anger. This inability to identify them has several effects:


I point out that the ability to identify accurately our emotions enables us to directly explore questions concerning truth and falsehood and questions concerning ethics. Then we can derive realistic answers from our experience instead of resorting to speculation.

I look at the role of anxiety in the mind, and then give a precise definition of what a psycho-analysis achieves.

I have also analysed the process of abreaction. This process is a group of four main sequences of emotions that invariably link together excitement with sorrow, and positive attitudes with negative ones. Abreaction mixes together morality with immorality, purity with degradation. It makes a mess of traditional ideas on ethics and responsibility, and is the primary source of confusion in the mind. 

These ideas on abreaction lead to the deduction that there are two laws of social change.


Understanding the nature of emotion and the process of abreaction enables a person to begin to construct more skilful theories of consciousness and of ethics, and to handle better the problems of everyday life. This understanding has profound implications for all forms of psycho-therapy, and even for psychiatric drug therapy.

The two basic abreactions of guilt and pride are described in the articles on abreaction. The remaining two abreactions, those of narcissism and jealousy, are described in the article The Conversion Experience in part 2.


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Copyright © 2002 Ian Heath
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