Have you ever been stuck for a word to describe some of your more complex emotional states?
Which of the following 8 emotional states are you familiar with?
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, used the term sublimation to refer to the redirection of the erotic drive (or libido) into socially acceptable creative tasks. In this way, energy that would otherwise lead to socially unacceptable or destructive behaviour could be transferred into projects that would be communally beneficial and further civilization. The origin of the word in Latin – ‘sublimare’ means to elevate.
Alief is a new addition to the list of defined emotional states, introduced by Tamar Szabo Gendler. It’s a more primitive state than both belief and imagination, and it activates behaviours that may go against someone’s rational beliefs or desires. For example, a person is hesitant to drink a glass of juice in which a fully sterilized dead cockroach has been stirred. The person knows that the cockroach is sterilized and therefore believes the drink to be safe, but their hesitation is based on their alief that the drink is unsafe. Alief can also be used as a verb, you can say ‘the person alieves that the drink with the sterilized cockroach in it is unsafe’
Aporia is one of those emotional states experienced most by people who think on profound questions. It’s the feeling when you arrive at a point when you can’t get any further with a question because two possibilities seem equally likely, or you’ve arrived at a contradiction. The original ancient Greek work means without passage. Thus, aporia is a state in which a mental impasse is reached. It’s the feeling of limitation that inspires someone to look into a question on a new level, by gaining more knowledge on the subject, or reflecting on it more closely. It was an aim in the Socratic method of philosophical dialogue about an initial assumption, and it was a starting point for Aristotle, who considered the aporia coming from the contradictions raised by two different philosophers, for example, to be a crucial basis for further philosophical investigation.
Of all the emotional states I’ve looked at, Occhiolism has to be the newest. This term hasn’t even entered the dictionary yet, and, having appeared online in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, it’s gained popularity as a term elsewhere. The state of Occhiolism is supposedly being aware of the smallness of your perspective to the point where you’re also aware that you can’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions about life because you only have your own limited view to go on.
Rumination is closely linked to emotional states such as anxiety and depression. It consists in being compulsively fixated on the symptoms of one’s own distress and on its potential causes and consequences rather than its solutions. It’s further defined as focusing attention persistently on your feelings and problems, ‘rather than in terms of the specific content of thoughts’ (Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco and Lyubomirsky, 2008). Rumination is also connected to psychopathology, binge-eating, dependence, neuroticism, pessimism, and a wide spectrum of dysfunctional attitudes and thinking patterns.
Schadenfreude is another of our darker emotional states. Schadenfreude, which comes from the German Schaden (meaning damage) and Freude (meaning joy), is a feeling of pleasure at the observance of the misfortunes of another person. It’s closely associated with malicious envy. When you are afflicted by malicious envy, your envy for another person causes you to revel in their destruction. A good example of this is in the character of Sallieri in the film Amadeus. His obsession with Mozart’s genius leads Sallieri to court his destruction.
Overbelief is remaining faithful to a belief even though it can’t be verified. Overbelieving something is based on the emotional states of wanting and needing to believe something though there is no empirical evidence (i.e. evidence based on experience or observation in reality) to show that it is true. It’s different from faith in that it makes an appreciable difference in how a person lives their life, as they take the overbelief as one would take a truth – as a reasonable basis on which to act. People might overbelieve something when they have a very personal spiritual experience which causes them to believe something that others cannot verify as objectively true by common experience.
Meno: And how are you going to search for[the nature of virtue] when you don’t know at all what it is, Socrates?
Which of all the things you don’t know will you set up as target for your search?
And even if you actually come across it, how will you know that it is that thing which you don’t know?
Anamnesis, which comes from the Ancient Greek meaning remembrance or reminiscence, is the emotional state in learning where you feel you’re remembering something you already knew but had lost. It first appears in Plato, where he suggests that this state may be related to the reincarnation of the soul. He responds to the philosophical problem that the way of knowing something is recognizing it, but how are we to recognize that certain things are true if we don’t already know what they are? He proposes that we recall memories from previous incarnations. This idea was developed by the Neoplatonists, who, instead of thinking in terms of direct reincarnation of single souls, thought in terms of a world-soul, from which individual souls could draw recollections which brought them closer to the ultimate source of divine knowledge.
How many of these emotional states do you recognize? Did you have any idea there was a name for them?
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Caroline HindleCaroline Hindle is a freelance writer, editor, and translator living in Athens, Greece. She has an MA in Ancient World Studies, but has a wide spectrum of interests, including philosophy, history, science, literature, politics, morality, and popular culture.
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