Emotions and Moods

I’m trying to read up on emotions because some philosophers are interested in them. I just got a handbook on the latest psychology about them, so maybe I’ll find some good experiments in there. Always looks for some data points to mine for a theory.

What strikes me about emotions is that they are manifestations of a mood. What I mean is that sometime when I’m in a bad mood, various things will seem depressing to me, but when I’m in a good mood the same things will stir other emotions in me. Thus, I think moods are a kind of blanket status that we take on and emotions are the registering of that mood in specific scenarios in response to specific happenings.

Also there are questions about what emotions there are. I guess I started with a pretty limited taxonomy of what emotions there are: happiness, sadness, rejection, disappointment (but maybe some of these are moods?), but other authors seem to think things like anxiety, terror, and amusement are emotions. I don’t really know what to think…

Interesting, it seems like emotions can spread themselves over other features of our psychology so that if we desire something, we want that object or state of affairs, but we are also in the emotional state of yearning (or we can be in some cases). Same goes for thoughts. I may believe that you stole money out of my wallet and that very thought will be the basis and ground for my anger at you. This is interesting because sometimes, we say “I’m angry at his behavior.” Other times we might just be angry, for no particular reason. “I’m just so angry today.”

There is also a personality trait or type, known as Alexithymic (interestingly, it is not classified as a type of mental illness). An Alexithymic person cannot report their own emotions or cannot distinguish between them and so does not know if they are sad or happy, or feeling embarrassed or whatever. This, as you might guess, makes it very hard for such people to make friends and enter into loving relationships. It also shows you just how important our emotions might be as a kind of social compass that guides us through interactions with others and society.


2 Responses to “Emotions and Moods”

  1. June 27, 2011 at 1:57 am

    I’m actually relatively obsessed with the whole idea of manipulating emotions. It started a long time ago when I was suicidally depressed. I’ve come a long way…and I’m beginning to experiment with “method”-y acting techniques. In my opinion, the ability to manipulate your own emotions is one of the most important interpersonal skills.

    • 2 questionbeggar
      June 28, 2011 at 5:30 am

      Yea I agree. There is something very special and not metaphorical about “emotional intelligence.” Perhaps emotional intelligence is partially related to have emotions that respect the matter at hand, not getting too mad or too sad or too excited when the situation requires a specific amount of those emotions.

      Also, there is a strong connection between emotions and creativity.

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