World of Emotion

New Ideas in Psychology

Contents Introduction to Emotion Glossary Index of Page Titles

Chapter 2. Characteristics of Emotions

page 9

Section Headings [ Jealousy and Narcissism] [ Guilt and Pride] [ Love and Hate]

[ Vanity and Self-Pity] [ Envy] [ Anxiety]

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Jealousy and Narcissism

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The previous articles in the chapter The Nature of Emotion, beginning with Feelings, dealt with general theory about emotion and unconscious ideas. 

In this chapter, I turn to the differences between emotions. If I detect self-pity as my present emotion, how do I know whether it is self-pity alone, or the self-pity mode of guilt or of jealousy?  Emotions and their modes have definite characteristics which help to identify them.

These characteristics are beliefs and attitudes that ‘emanate’ from the motif or theme [¹] of an emotion like an aura (this tangle of attributes is the reason that the definition of an emotion has been such a confusing issue).

I list those characteristics that I have discovered. These have been identified empirically, and not by using logical thought.

My method of investigation is quite simple. When I am aware of what the present emotion is that I am experiencing, I consider relationships, views of reality, of politics, of religion, ideas of morality, how I feel about my own needs, etc, and then note what influence the present emotion has on this inquiry. I was often surprised by what I found.

I start with Jealousy.

Jealousy (= self-pity + love)

The self-pity mode of jealousy denigrates my achievements as an individual since it prefers to seek recognition and approval from other people ; social (or group) conformity is the norm. Only social achievements are valued. I have to rely on others ; if I have no support then I experience loneliness. Therefore this mode creates a dependency situation for me, so social ties are cemented by concepts of obligation and duty (in other words, concepts of obligation and duty are ways of handling this type of self-pity).

This mode of self-pity generates the need to be touched or to touch (in order to evoke a response from the other person) ; ultimately, this kind of touch becomes the need for sexual intercourse. This mode also makes one homely : I may feel like baking a cake (when it has a social nuance, such as having tea with the neighbours), or I may feel like redecorating the rooms in the house where I invite friends.

The love mode of jealousy produces social involvement and a sense of caring. It encompasses all ways of making other people dependent on oneself. It leads to paternalism in social relations, and to ‘enlightened despotism’ in politics, and to the crusading drive of evangelists. It generates sexual love, but not to the desire for sexual intercourse ; however, sexual intercourse may be engaged in as a way of fulfilling the needs of a partner. Touch is only used as a means of consolation.

Narcissism (= vanity + love)

Narcissism puts a gleam in my eyes : in love mode the gleam is of joy, whereas in vanity mode it is of excitement.

In the vanity mode of narcissism the quality of life is important, so I dramatise everything ;  life is a drama!  I attune to heroism and romanticism. I act from philanthropic motives and desire to help other people surmount their suffering ;  I help others to help themselves. I do not impose my views on them. However, I am sensitive to ridicule.

In the love mode I feel good, good in myself and glad for my life as a whole, even for the bad and sorrowful aspects of it ;  I am glad for life itself – life is exhilarating. I become self-absorbed. I dance to my favourite music. I do not pass judgements on anyone. I prefer co-operation rather than competition ; in fact, competitiveness switches off the love mode.

The next article describes the characteristics of Guilt and Pride.


[¹].The overall theme or motif of an emotion is what that emotion is trying to express.
For example, the theme of the self-hate mode of guilt is: "I deserve punishment".

The previous article lists the themes of several emotions, in the Table of Unconscious Ideas.

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Ian Heath
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