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Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 7.4 (2000) 298-309
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"The Phenomenology of Abnormal Emotions of Happiness"
by Willy Mayer1
[Return to Translator's Introduction]
The nature of the emotion of ecstasy
in relation to the sense of reality;
in relation to volitional processes;
in relation to the self; especially to its development and function;
the state of consciousness during ecstatic happiness physical sensations during ecstatic happiness
III. The Affect of Happiness
The nature of its emotion in relation to the sense of reality; including the "sense of premonition"
in relation to volitional processes: such as a feeling of "potency"; or of being clairvoyant in relation to the self;
the state of consciousness in affective states of happiness;
physical sensations in affective states of happiness.
IV. Summary and Conclusion
The attempt to describe and classify a group of emotions meets with two obstacles: no phenomenological boundaries or classificatory principles exist either for differentiating the concept of an emotion from that of other psychological manifestations; or for distinguishing between the different emotions. But such difficulties of definition should not stand in the way of descriptive endeavors. Only from these can a terminology of psychological phenomena be constructed. In what follows, we shall therefore not be afraid to adopt M. Geiger's (A) description of the nature of emotions as "occupying the experiential side of consciousness."
In the absence of a phenomenology of the emotions, the definition of abnormality can also not be phenomenologically derived. We tend to call abnormal those phenomena that are not, in Jasper's sense (Jaspers 1912a), genetically understandable. 2 But here, too, special difficulties are encountered with respect to the emotions. There are morbid conditions in which emotions arise that bear no relation at all to the rest of psychic experience. Such disconnected, inexplicable manifestations are perhaps exemplified by the "manufactured emotions" of schizophrenia, whose strangeness permits of almost no phenomenological explanation. All other known pathological affective states, such as the feelings of inadequacy of depressives, the euphoria of patients with general paralysis of the insane, and so on, are totally understandable in the light of the overall psychic picture. Only two options seem to be open to us here: either we designate as abnormal those emotions that form part of an abnormal symptom complex; or we decree that there are no abnormal (that is, incomprehensible) emotions at all--all emotions encountered in abnormal mental states are the understandable emotional accompaniments of the overall psychic disturbance. In that case, there would be no special need for a phenomenology of pathological emotions. Instead, we would only need a phenomenology of the emotions, normal and abnormal.
Yet one can envisage a situation in which abnormal emotions in our sense of the term can be said to exist, that is, if it were possible to show that the emotion, genetically incomprehensible (in the light of previous psychic experience), had significantly contributed to the overall abnormal mental state. This argument takes us to the age-old conundrum of the primacy of the delusional idea versus that of the abnormal affective state, except that we have posed the question not causally, but from the point of view of understanding psychology. Nevertheless, the distinction is difficult in the individual case, for example, if we want to decide whether the grandiosity of a patient with general paralysis of the insane is a result of his euphoria or whether the euphoria is best understood on the basis of his expansive ideas. To avoid undue theoretical dilemmas, it is best to sidestep such "borderline" cases to start [End Page 298] with and confine oneself to those clinical states--not at all rare--in which emotions clearly contribute to the altered general mental state. It is in this sense that the concept of abnormality will be used in this study. In every individual case it is important to identify the emotional contribution to the totality of experience and to clarify the nature of the emotions involved.
For mainly practical reasons, we shall single out the emotions of happiness...