Lecture 9

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Lecture 9
PSYC18 2009 – Psychology of Emotion
Professor: Gerald Cupchik
Office: S634
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: Thursdays 10-11; 2-3
Phone: 416-287-7467
TA: Michelle Hilscher
Office: S142C
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: Thursdays 10-11 am
Course website:
Oatley, Keltner & Jenkins (2006, 2nd Ed.)
Understanding Emotions.
***Midterm Marks:
If you have not already received your midterm
mark, please email Michelle with your full name
and student # ([email protected])***
Psychodynamics & the Experience Approach
Consider a contrast between the objective & subjective approaches in
Positivism goes hand in hand with an objective approach in science. In
language use, every word must have a single meaning specified by an
operation or scientific definition. It is nomothetic or rule oriented and
searches for general laws.
Romanticism fits with a subjective approach. We find the language of
romanticism in myths and in everyday speech. Precise and narrow
language cannot capture the complexities of psychology and personal life.
It is ideographic and concerned with individual meanings in life.
For psychodynamic theorists, behaviours in everyday life can refer to
many meanings at once. People are understood as behaving in ways that
are intentional and purposive though this might be unconscious.
The goal of the psychodynamic viewpoint is to interpret and not to
predict. It does not try to explain which is the goal of mechanistic and
behavioural psychology.
Mapping out the multiple referents of behaviour is fundamentally different
from identifying causal or determining antecedents.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) believed in the Darwinian view of humans.
The ultimate source of human meaning lies in biological instincts
inherited through the process of natural selection.
From the Psychodynamic Viewpoint:
1. Emotion is a qualitatively different phenomenon from thought.
2. Emotion is motivational in life and is more powerful than thought
most of the time.
3. Emotion, more than thought, refers to some additional invisible
unconscious processes.
4. Emotion expresses those aspects of a person’s fundamental
nature that are not readily apparent to the conscious mind.
From the Psychodynamic Viewpoint:
So, every emotion is the manifest content of a complicated
psychological process which is largely unconscious.
* The unconscious origins of emotion are the latent content.
* The manifest content expresses the latent content in some altered
Emotion goes beyond the immediate situation. People carry around
with them latent concerns from situation to situation.
* Emotion is NOT a behaviour which is a function of the
* Emotion is NOT quite what it appears to be consciously.
To understand an emotion one must seek out the latent content of
the emotion and relate it to the fundamental nature of the person.
Freud worked with the notion of instinct or drive. An instinct is
genetically determined and, when operative, it produces a state of
psychic tension or excitation. This tension prompts the person to
act which leads to gratification and the cessation of excitation.
Homeostatic Model:
Tension --> Motor Activity --> Cessation of Tension
This model reflects the deterministic philosophy that Freud was
trained in. The human organism is seen as a complex energy
system. It derives its energy from food and expends it for various
purposes including: circulation, respiration, perceiving, thinking and
Energy that was directed to psychological work was called psychic
energy. We start with an absolute amount of psychic energy which
is given over to different activities.
The instinct concept links psychology and physiology. It is a
psychological representation of an inner somatic source of excitation.
1. the bodily excitation is called a need
2. the psychological representation is a wish
For example: consider the state of hunger.
nutritional deficit in the tissues of
the body leads to --> Wish for
Four Characteristics of an Instinct:
1. Source - bodily condition or need
2. Aim - to abolish the deficiency
3. Object - activity involved in satisfying the need
4. Impetus - force or strength determined by the intensity of the
underlying need
This is an internal tension reduction homeostatic model
The source and aim are constant throughout life but the objects or
means to satisfy the needs can change. This implies that psychic
energy is displaceable from object to object.
All adult interests, preferences, tastes and
displacements of energy from original object choices.
* The life instinct relates to survival and the form of its energy is
called libido. Freud focused on the sexual aspect of this instinct.
* The death instinct involves aggressive drives and was described
after World War I.
Freud arrived at his psychodynamic approach based on evidence
from hysterical symptoms and actions performed under posthypnotic suggestion.
Unconscious mental events can manifest themselves in behaviour.
Ideas can be unconscious and very strong and this leads to the
idea of “inadmissability to consciousness.”
Unconscious ideas which can become conscious are called
preconscious ideas. Those denied access are called unconscious.
Repression: Ideas charged with affect are repressed and the idea
and affect are separated.
The affect (1) can be inhibited, (2) remain in consciousness but
attached to another idea or (3) it can undergo transformation into
These repressed ideas become organized into and expressed as
Consider the contrast between PRIMARY and SECONDARY
mental processes.
Primary Process Thinking: Original or primary way that the
psychic apparatus functioned.
(1) Exemption from mutual contradiction - absence of any negatives
or conditionals so mutually exclusive ideas can coexist.
(2) Thinking by allusion or analogy is frequent and part of an object,
memory or idea may stand for the whole or vice-versa. A visual
representation may appear instead of a word or even a group of
words (i.e., a paragraph)
(3) No sense of time..no “before” or “after”
(4) In terms of drive energy there is a tendency to:
i. Immediate gratification and
ii. To shift cathexis (i.e., attachment) from the original object or
method of discharge when blocked to another route.
Two features of primary process thinking that are relevant for
dream construction and symbols.
(1) Displacement - representation of part by a whole or in the
general substitution of one idea by another which is associatively
connected with it.
(2) Condensation - representation of several ideas or images by a
single word or image.
Secondary Process Thinking: Ordinary conscious thinking that is
primarily verbal, following the usual laws of syntax and logic.
Freud later developed his Structural Model which contrasted
the id, ego and superego.
THE ID: The id consists of personal drives and appears from birth.
Its energy functions for instinctual gratification and operates
according to the pleasure principle - achieve pleasure and avoid
Reflex Action - energy is automatically
discharged in motor action (in eating, drinking,
sexual orgasm, and so on)
Wish Fulfilment - energy is used to produce an image of the
instinctual object. It does not distinguish between subjective
imagery and objective reality. The image is a memory of past
In sum: We expend instinctual energy to eliminate needs… a
tension reduction process.
THE EGO: The ego has no energy of its own but acquires
neutralized drive energy from the id.
It operates according to the reality principle which is the ability to
distinguish between stimuli of the outer world and id impulses from
the inner world.
The ego emerges to satisfy needs of the id upon frustration of the
id by the environment. It represents a kind of executive functioning
that mediates between the id and the environment.
Model: drive reaches threshold — delay of discharge — detoured
searching — satisfaction
Ego Functions: motor control, sensory perception, library of
memories, thinking and attention, and defensive functions like
The ego is first and foremost a bodily ego — double-touch concept.
THE SUPEREGO: The superego has two parts - (1) the
conscience and (2) the ego ideal.
There is a change from external to internal source of moral
demands and self regulation.
It exists in the form of a spoken word — we internalize our parent’s
Shaped by identification with family and others.
Let’s relate these ideas back to the topic at hand - our emotions:
* All behaviour has both id and ego - energy & direction
* Dreams and emotions are relatively unbound and work more
according to instinctual processes.
However, the context of emotions is more varied than the content of
Energy becomes attached to memory images but we cannot readily
access these early memories.
The latent content of our memory images can only be discerned by
associations that these images arouse.
While emotional experience is often situationally and perceptually
cued, its meaning comes from individual interpretations of and
reactions to the situation itself. But the energy comes from early
All emotions are alike in terms of energy.
Three Groups of Emotions:
1. Relational emotions point to something outside the self (e.g.,
love and hate).
Theory of Ambivalence - virtually every relationship will have been
accompanied by both pleasure and pain.
The family plays a crucial role here. The kinds of emotions that
become differentiated depends on the dynamics of the family.
dependency, affection, longing, fondness
versus temporary resentment, anger, or long
term hostility.
Affection can develop in response to
Longing can develop in response to
Three Groups of Emotions:
2. Reflective emotions are directed back toward the self (e.g., pride
and guilt).
The superego plays an important role here.
3. Anxiety expresses felt danger with no identifiable directionality.
Paradigm of the birth experience - flood consciousness at the
moment of birth with painful bodily sensations...catastrophic
reaction to perceived danger.
Problem of separation from one’s mother.
So anxiety is a danger signal.
Fear is a later development than anxiety.
Aesthetic Experience
Now let’s apply this model to aesthetic experience. Consider your
emotional reactions to unique meanings that are embedded in or
expressed by paintings, plays, stories, films and so on.
Aesthetic Experience
You need a proper aesthetic distance from a work which balances
personal relevance (engagement) and aesthetic understanding
If the unique meaning floods you with emotion, you won’t like the
piece and will withdraw.
An artwork, story or play that is personally
valuable permits you to get out your
emotions without being overwhelmed by
Existential Phenomenology and Emotion
Looking back at the psychodynamic
approach we see that it introduced the
importance of reactions to the unique
symbolic meaning (i.e., content or subject
matter) of situations for individuals or
members of groups.
The emotions experienced in a particular
situation remind us of or resonate with earlier
life experiences. In other words, they
represent the tip of the iceberg.
Existential Phenomenology and Emotion
However, when the emotional reaction is too powerful, it will be
repressed by the ego and, as a consequence, the person might not
quite know what is causing their bad feelings. The goal of therapy is to
help the person gain access to both the feelings and their historic
cause. This is usually accompanied by a catharsis, the release of
emotion that was pent up in the unconscious.
We contrast phenomenology with the positivist outlook on the world.
Positivist Outlook
What is real can be measured, calculated or
controlled. Consider the paradox that in its quest
for the physical entity that exists separate and
completely independent of our conception of it,
physical science has been led to a
submicroscopic entity that is so dependent on
our conception of it that existence can only be
indirectly inferred & we encounter limits in our
attempt to measure it.
So what is known is relative to the knower, the knower’s own meanings
and measurement tools.
So knowing is a human activity of identifying, relating, measuring and
interpreting data that are selected and defined by the knower according
to the criterion that he or she selects.
We never know from scratch. “Objective” knowledge is situated in prior
Defined as “the science of experience”.
Phenomenology looks at the effect of prior understanding on human
experience, including knowing.
Phenomena are not univocal but “appear” in a multiplicity of ways.
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) argued that phenomenology begins with
the direct description of experience.
We have direct experience prior to thinking about it. We must begin with
an understanding of “the situation”.
In this case, we examine the situation in relation to emotion.
For example, fear is:
(1) physiological change
(2) cognitive appraisal
(3) avoidance behaviour
(4) first and foremost it is fear.
It remains fear during and after scientific inquiry.
Its essential being is its being fear.
It means fear for us.
The neurological, cognitive and behavioural analyses are related to
each other because they all refer to the structure we call “fear”.
Why has science overlooked this experiential ontology (defined as
the science of being)?
By limiting fear to one aspect of its being, the physiologist discovers
more about fear. The new discovery might be mistaken as the “essence”
of fear.
For Husserl, we have an “intentional” relation to our environment which
makes it intelligible. We don’t experience the environment as an
unrelated series of meaningless data to be subsequently made
intelligible and related to one another.
As Gestalt psychology has argued independently, we experience formal
wholes, not disconnected data.
We have an understanding when we have a sense for the essence of a
thing or event.
These meanings are not introspected but are intuited. Introspection
means to “look within” and is modelled on observation...and
According to phenomenology, ideas and feelings are grasped without
distance; they are intuited.
You understand directly and immediately. You see a person “as angry”.
Intuiting permits us to experience things are intelligible whole and not
just as data.
Each of these “wholes” is identified and understood against a spatiotemporal “horizon” or “field”.
To understand is to situate!
The human environment is always first of all “a situation” - an organized
hierarchy of wholes.
Isolated and meaningless data are always the results of analytical
abstraction from an original and organized whole.
For Husserl, we experience phenomena as a whole because the act of
experiencing is holistic.
Don’t confuse the part or mechanism of experience with the experience
To understand is to situate!
The human environment is always first of all “a situation” - an organized
hierarchy of wholes.
Isolated and meaningless data are always the results of analytical
abstraction from an original and organized whole.
For Husserl, we experience phenomena as a whole because the act of
experiencing is holistic.
Don’t confuse the part or mechanism of experience with the experience
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