A Schematic Outline of The Emotions is a fascinating article by John. B. Watson, first published in The Psychological Review in 1919. One striking feature of the paper is Watson's discussion surrounding the capacity of infants to form conditioned emotional reactions to emotional situations. There is no doubt that this line of thinking led directly to the (in)famous 'Little Albert' study which attempted to show how fear could be induced in an infant through classical conditioning.
The material here presented was not prepared primarily for presentation in a psychological journal. It is published in the hope that its main defects as an introductory presentation of the main observable facts about the emotions may be pointed out.
Throughout this paper we have introduced physiological concepts into the behavior study of emotions. It is possible that we have given the impression that we are writing a physiology of the emotions. Such is not the case. It is perfectly possible for a student of behavior entirely ignorant of the sympathetic nervous system and of the glands and smooth muscles, or even of the central nervous system as a whole to write a thoroughly comprehensive and accurate study of the emotions - the types, their interrelations with habits, their role, etc. We have tried to connect emotional activity with physiological processes because it seems that such formulations are now practical and no longer purely speculative.
What is an Emotion?
Hard and fast definitions are not possible in the psychology of emotion, but formulations are possible and sometimes help us to assemble our facts. A formulation which will fit a part of the emotional group of reactions may be stated as follows: An emotion is an hereditary pattern-reaction involving profound changes of the bodily mechanism as a whole, but particularly of the visceral and glandular systems. By pattern-reaction we mean that the separate details of response appear with some constancy, with some regularity and in approximately the same sequential order each time the exciting stimulus is presented. It is obvious that if this formulation is to fit the facts, the general condition of the organism must be such that the stimulus can produce its effect. A child alone in a house on a stormy night with only a dim candle burning may display the reaction of fear at the mournful hoot of an owl. If the parents are at hand and the room is well lighted, the stimulus may pass unreacted to. Stimulus then in this sense is used in a broad way to refer not only to the exciting object but also to the general setting. There is implied also the fact that the general state of the organism must be sensitive (capable of being stimulated) to this form of stimulus at the moment. This condition is very important. A young man may be extremely sensitive to the blandishments of every female he meets while in the unmarried state and may show considerable excitement and over-reaction on such occasions. In most cases, he becomes considerably less sensitive after being happily married. This formulation may seem somewhat roundabout - somewhat like saying that a stimulus is an emotional stimulus only when one gets the pattern-reaction, but this is very nearly the case. Possibly we can illustrate most easily what we mean by choosing an example from animal life. When the naturalist comes suddenly upon a young sooty tern under four days of age, it lies stock still (it is capable of very rapid locomotion): It can be pushed about or rolled over without explicit forms of response appearing. The moment the intruder moves away, the fledgling may hop to its feet and dash away or give one of its instinctive cries. The pattern-reaction, i.e., the explicit observable pattern, is very simple indeed - a death feint or posture. Such a type of response is quite common in the animal world. In order to bring about such a tremendous variation in behavior in an animal usually so active there must be a profound modification of the organic processes. The locus of the effect (the implicit side), lies principally in the visceral system. Often, however, the skeletal musculature is involved in the pattern. A serviceable way to mark off an emotional reaction from an instinctive reaction is to include in the formulation of emotion a factor which may be stated as follows: The shock of an emotional stimulus throws the organism for the moment at least into a chaotic state.
When in the state of shock the subject makes few adjustments to objects in his environment. In contrast to this stand the instincts. The subject under the influence of an instinctive stimulus usually does something: He throws his hand up for defense, blinks his eyes or ducks his head; he runs away; he bites, scratches, kicks and grasps whatever his hand touches. This distinction cannot be applied in every case of emotional activity, as we shall see in our next paragraph. In any event it cannot be pushed too far. We might express it in another way by saying that in emotion the radius of action lies within the individual's own organism; whereas in instinct the radius of action is enlarged to such an extent that the individual as a whole may make adjustments to the objects in his environment.
Additional Formulations. - The above formulation fits of course only the more stereotyped forms of emotional response. When we take into account the whole group of phenomena in which we see emotional manifestations in adults, a pronounced modification is necessary. Apparently the pattern as a whole gets broken up. At any rate it largely disappears (the parts never wholly disappear) except under unusual conditions, and there can be noted only a reinforcement or inhibition of the habit and instinctive (exaggerated and depressed reflexes) activities taking place at the moment. We mean to imply here only the generally observed facts typified by such popular expressions as "He is working at a low ebb today," "His tone is low," "He's a gloom;" in psychopathology when this phase is more marked, depressions are spoken of. The opposite picture is popularly portrayed by such expressions as "Jones is full of pep today," "He is excited," 'happy,' "He is working with a punch;" in psychopathology, the exaggerated type of this behavior is termed manic. It will be noted that these expressions refer to the activity level at which all of an individual's acts are accomplished, i.e., they do not refer to the pattern type of emotion. Only in pathological cases, or in the case of normals in periods of a cataclysmic nature such as war, earthquake, and the sudden death of loved ones, do we get a complete return to the original and more infantile type of emotional response.
Observation would seem to suggest the following formulation: Organized activity (hereditary and acquired) may go on and usually does go on at a given level. We may call the most usual, the normal level, or level of equilibrium. It varies with different individuals and one can determine it even with respect to a single individual only after observing him for a considerable time. We may note further that an individual at one time may exhibit more energy, push, or pep, than normal; we may call this the excited level. Again at times he works at a level lower than normal; we may call this the depressed level.
Without neurologizing too much, we may venture the assumption that in adults environmental factors have brought about the partial inhibition of the more external features of the primitive pattern types of emotion. The implicit, mainly glandular and smooth muscular side of the pattern, remains. The emotionally exciting object releases important internal secretions which, without initiating new part reactions, reinforce or inhibit those actually in progress. This hypothesis would account for changes in level. Only in rare cases do we see mere changes in level. Usually when such changes occur certain auxiliary or additional part reactions appear such as we see in whistling while at work, keeping time with the feet, drumming on the table, biting the finger nails. These types of reaction are singled out and spoken of in some detail under the head Emotional Outlets (p. 184).
The Genetic Study of Emotion in the Child. - Unfortunately for the subject of psychology, few experiments have been made upon the emotional life of the child under anything like as favorable conditions as obtain in the study of animals. Our observations upon the child are similar to those which were made upon animals before Thorndike and Lloyd Morgan introduced the experimental method. Until very recently, in spite of volumes written upon it, it has been of the armchair variety. The superstition that the human infant is too fragile for study is giving way to a more sensible viewpoint. It has been proven practicable in some laboratories to take infants from birth and to study them from the same point of view that animals are studied, giving due consideration to those factors in behavior which do not appear in animal response. But unfortunately this work is handicapped because there are no facilities in maternity wards for keeping the mother and child under close observation for years, a condition which is indispensable for real systematic work.
Summary of Positive Results, Early Types of Emotional Reactions. - After observing a number of infants, especially during the first months of life, we suggest the following group of emotional reactions as belonging to the original and fundamental nature of man: fear, rage and love (using love in approximately the same sense that Freud uses sex).
Fear. - What stimulus apart from all training will call out fear responses; what are these responses, and how early may they be called out? The principal situations which call out fear responses seem to be as follows: (1) To suddenly remove from the infant all means of support, as when one drops it from the hands to be caught by an assistant. (In the experiment the child is held over a bed upon which has been placed a soft feather pillow); (2) by loud sounds; (3) occasionally when an infant is just falling asleep or is just ready to waken, a sudden push or a slight shake is an adequate stimulus; (4) when an infant is just falling asleep, occasionally the sudden pulling of the blanket upon which it is lying will produce the fear responses. (2) and (3) above may be looked upon as belonging under (1). The responses are a sudden catching of the breath, clutching randomly with the hands (the grasping reflex invariably appearing when the child is dropped), blinking of the eyelids, puckering of the lips, then crying; in older children possibly flight and hiding (not yet observed by us as 'original' reactions). In regard to the age at which fear responses first appear, we can state with some sureness that the above mentioned group of reactions appears at birth. It is often stated that children are instinctively afraid in the dark. While we shall advance our opinion with the greatest caution, we have not so far been able to gather any evidence to this effect (p. 173, 174). When such reactions to darkness do appear they are due to other causes; darkness comes to be associated with absence of customary stimulation, noises, etc. (They should be looked upon as conditioned fear reactions.) From time immemorial children have been 'scared' in the dark, either unintentionally or as a means of controlling them (this is especially true of children reared in the South).
Rage. - In a similar way the question arises as to what is the original situation which brings out the activities seen in rage. Observation seems to show that the hampering of the infant's movements is the factor which apart from all training brings out the movements characterized as rage. If the face or head is held, crying results, quickly followed by screaming. The body stiffens and fairly well coordinated slashing or striking movements of the hands and arms result; the feet and legs are drawn up and down; the breath is held until the child's face is flushed. In older children the slashing movements of the arms and legs are better coordinated and appear as kicking, slapping, and pushing. These reactions continue until the irritating situation is relieved and sometimes do not cease then. Almost any child from birth can be thrown into a rage if its arms are held tightly to its sides; sometimes even if the elbow joint is clasped tightly between the fingers the response appears; at times just the placing of the head between cotton pads will produce it. This was noticed repeatedly when testing eye coordinations in infants under ten days of age. The slight constraint put upon the head by the soft pads would often result in a disturbance so great that the experiment had to be discontinued for a time.
Love. - The original situation which calls out the observable love responses seems to be the stroking or manipulation of some erogenous zone, tickling, shaking, gentle rocking, patting, and turning upon the stomach across the attendant's knee. The response varies - if the infant is crying, crying ceases, a smile may appear, attempts at gurgling, cooing and finally, in slightly older children, the extension of the arms which we should class as the forerunner of the embrace in the acts of courtship. The smile and the laugh which Freud connects with the release of repression (we are not denying in the case of adults that this may be true) we should thus class as original reaction tendencies intimately connected, in our opinion at least, from infancy with the stimulation of the erogenous zones.
These types fit fairly well the general formulation we gave earlier. There is a reaction pattern, there is a definite stimulus which has its peculiarly exciting character (the reason for which must be sought in biology), the radius of action is small, no particular adjustment is made to any object in the environment. It is admitted however that the responses contain both explicit and implicit components, that is, involve the skeletal musculature, the visceral system, the smooth muscles and glands. It is probable though that if the exciting stimulus were sufficiently strong, e. g., strong enough to produce 'shock,' or if continued for a sufficient length of time, the subject would tend to take on more and more the purely vegetative type of existence illustrated by the example of the young tern. In rage the child becomes so stiff and holds its breath for such a long time that it is often necessary to soothe it. The final stage in any great emotion would seem to be paralysis or the 'death feint.' Approximations to this condition are seen in the paralysis of fear, in the fainting under strong emotional excitement, in the stereotyped reactions of the stoics and martyrs when they unflinchingly resist the torch. Individuals on the battlefield likewise are able to withstand operations, wounds and injuries without complaint. It must be admitted that there is a constant tendency for the organized habit response of the individual to disappear under the extremes of emotion. So far as we can see, this tendency towards stereotypy, paralysis or the death feint under the immediate effect of a strong emotional excitement has no biological or adaptive value. The organism exhibiting it is at the mercy of its enemies, whether on the battlefield or in the struggle for food among savage tribes, and is at a disadvantage in the race for a much-sought-after woman, or in the fight for business and scientific reputation.
Negative Results of Experimental Study. - Three babies from the Harriet Lane Hospital were put into various situations, the types of which are illustrated below, for the purpose of finding out whether there is a wider range of stimuli that may arouse an emotional reaction than the one we cited a moment ago. These babies represented splendid, healthy types. Their mothers were the wet nurses belonging to the hospital. They were 165, 126 and 124 days of age respectively. The first two, whose ages are given, were put through the mare numerous tests. The experiments given below are interesting for the reason that the babies had never been out of the hospital and had never seen an animal. A summary of the tests on Thorne, a girl 165 days of age, is given below.
A very lively, friendly black cat was allowed to crawl near the baby. She reached for it with both hands at once. The cat was purring loudly. She touched its nose, playing with it with her fingers. It was shown three times. Each time she reached with both hands for it, the left hand being rather more active. She reached for it when it was placed on a lounge before her, but out of reach.
Then a pigeon in a paper bag was laid on the couch. The pigeon was struggling, and moving the bag about on the couch and making a loud rattling noise. The baby watched it intently but did not reach for it. The pigeon was taken out of the bag on the couch before her, cooing and struggling in the experimenter's hands. She reached for it again and again, and failing of course to get hold of it put her hands in her mouth each time. She was allowed to touch its head. The pigeon moved its head about with quick, jerking movements. It was then held by its feet and allowed to flap its wings near the baby's face. She watched it intently, showing no tendency to avoid it, but did not reach for it. When the bird became quiet she reached for it and caught hold of its beak with-her left hand.
Test with a Rabbit. - The animal was put on a couch in front of her. (The child was sitting on her mother's lap.) She watched it very intently, but did not reach for it until the experimenter held it in his hands close to her; then she reached for it immediately, catching one of its ears in her left hand, and attempted to put it into her mouth.
The last animal presented to her was a white rat. She paid little attention to it, only fixating it occasionally. She followed it with her eyes somewhat when it moved about the couch. When held out to her on the experimenter's arm, she turned her head away, no longer stimulated.
172 Days Old. - The baby was taken into a dark room with only an electric light behind her, not very bright (faint illumination). A stranger held the baby. The mother sat where she could not be seen. A dog was brought into the room and allowed to jump up on the couch beside her. The baby watched intently every move the dog made, but did not attempt to reach for it. Then she turned her head aside. The other light was turned up and the dog again exhibited. The infant watched very closely every move the dog and the experimenter made, but did not attempt to catch the dog. Exhibited no fear reactions, no matter how close the dog was made to come to her.
The black cat was then brought in (both lights on). The cat rubbed against the baby's feet and put her front paws in the baby's lap, touching its nose to her hand. The baby watched intently and reached for it with her left hand. The front light was then turned out. The experimenter held the cat closer to her and she reached for it with both hands.
Rabbit. - She reached for it with both hands as soon as the experimenter came into the room with it in his arms. The front lights were turned on. The rabbit was held out to her. She reached for it at once with both hands, trying to put her fingers in its eyes. She caught hold of a piece of fur above the rabbit's eye and pulled hard.
Pigeon. - The front light was turned out. She reached for the bird with her left hand before the experimenter was ready to present it to her. The pigeon's wings were released and it fluttered violently just in front of the baby's eyes. She continued to reach for it with both hands even when the wings brushed her face. When the bird was quiet it was presented to her again. She reached for it even more eagerly. She tried to take hold of the pigeon's beak with her left hand, but failed because the bird continually bobbed its head. The light was then turned on. The pigeon again flapped wildly. The baby looked at it intently with widely opened eyes, but this time did not reach. She showed no fear however. It was then held out to her again when it had become quiet. She reached for it at once with both hands, held the feathers and tried to put her fingers into its eyes.
175 Days Old. - The baby was placed in a small chair and tied in and put behind a screen so that she could not see any of the people in the room. The dog was allowed to walk suddenly around the screen in front of her. She showed no fear when the dog rubbed against her legs. She did not reach for him however. While she was still in the same position, the experimenter held the pigeon in front of her and allowed it to flap its wings. She reached for it with both hands the moment it was presented to her and did not withdraw her hands while the bird was flapping its wings. She continued to reach as the bird was moved out of her range.
The cat was then brought around the screen and placed on the couch just in front of the baby's chair. She did not reach for it, but followed it with her eyes. It was held very close to her. She reached for it with her left hand and touched its head. The cat was then moved away, but she continued to reach for it. Then the cat put its front feet in her lap. She reached with her left hand and followed with her right, touching its ears.
Rabbit. - She reached with her left hand at once when the rabbit was still too far away to touch. When it came close to her she reached with her left hand and touched it.
She was then taken into the dark room with both lights turned out and seated in a small chair. A newspaper was lighted before her and allowed to burn in a large metal bucket. She watched it intently from the moment the match was struck until the flames died down. She showed no fear, but did not attempt to reach.
While being tested in the large room for eye-hand coordination, the dog suddenly began to bark at someone entering the room. He was quite near the baby. He barked loudly and jumped about at the end of the leash. The baby became perfectly still, watching intently with widely opened eyes, blinked at the bark, but did not cry.
179 Days Old. - She was taken out to Druid Hill Park in an automobile for the first time in her life. She was wide awake the whole time. She was carried rather rapidly through the grounds of the small zoo at the park. The camel was braying and came up to the fence as we approached, rubbing rather violently against the fence, coming within a few feet of the baby. This produced no fear reaction and no constant fixation. She was then taken to the cages containing the cinnamon and black bears. She gazed at them from time to time, but with no constant fixation. We then took her into the monkey house which contained also a large number of parrots and other smaller birds. The monkeys came to the sides of the cage and from time to time attacked the wires. Three or four times they came up and made threatening movements and actually caught the experimenter by the arm. The child did not seem to be in the least afraid. The peacocks were making their rather uncanny sounds within twenty feet of her, but she did not turn her eyes towards the source of the sound. She was then taken back to the camel yard and the camel again 'performed' nicely. Two camels came up to each other and rubbed noses and put their heads over the dividing fence. The baby was within two or three inches of the camel's nose on several occasions, but while she followed the movements with her eyes, she showed no pronounced reactions of any kind. She was then taken to the Shetland pony, who put his nose through the wires and showed his teeth. She was within a few inches of his mouth. Outside of following movements of the eyes, no reactions were observable. She was taken near two zebras. They came to the edge of the fence, within a few inches of the baby. The zebras were possibly followed slightly more intently with the eyes, but there was no other observable reaction. While the baby was watching the zebras an ostrich came close to her and brought its head to the wire, but did not strike the wire violently. During approximately half of the experiment the baby was carried by her mother and the rest of the time by the experimenter's secretary. She had never been carried by this individual before. At times the mother was kept out of the range of the baby's vision.
Baby Nixon, girl, 126 days of age, had just learned the eye-hand coordination. She was put through exactly the same series of situations. Slight differences appeared, e. g., when the cat rubbed its head against the baby's stomach, there was a distinct start, a tendency to stiffen. While the experimenter was out of the room getting the rabbit, three persons were left with the baby in the dark room (dim light). All were sitting very quietly. She was being held by a stranger. Suddenly the baby began to cry and had to be given to the mother for a few moments. She quieted down immediately. Again when the pigeon flapped its wings near the baby's face, she gave a distinct jump, but did not cry or show other signs of fear. When the dog was made to bark (lighted room), the baby blinked her eyes at every bark, but gave no other reaction. She smiled throughout most of the situations. She smiled all through the burning of the paper in the dark room.
It is thus seen that this unusual opportunity of testing children's reactions to their first sight of animals yielded few positive results. At least we can say that the older statements which maintain that violent emotions appear must be very greatly modified. Of course it is always possible that the children were too young, but this has not very much weight since we have tested children from birth through to 200 days. These children left the hospital shortly after the tests and further experimentation could not be made. As a control test, similar observations were made upon a colored baby girl (Lee) 200 days of age, who had been under observation from birth. She lived in the city under the usual environmental conditions. Exactly the same results were obtained. There was practically no evidence of fear.
Conditioned Emotional Reflexes. - This baby's reactions to darkness were tested at 115 days. Lee (as well as many others) had been tested many times in the dark room with negative results but she had not been tested for many days before the present observation was made. The following extracts bring out most of the points.
115 Days Old. - The baby was quiet. She was taken by the mother to the dark room and placed on a couch in the center of the room. The light was turned out. For the first two minutes she kept quiet, then grew fussy, and at the end of five minutes cried. The experimenter went in and turned up the light and left her there. She stopped crying, but at the end of two minutes was crying as lustily as when she was in the dark.
122 Days Old. - Taken to dark room with light left on. She began to fret at the end of forty-five seconds, crying loudly at the end of seventy seconds. Cried loudly for a minute and forty-five seconds. She was then taken out and quieted and afterwards returned to the dark room. She began to cry when she was placed on the floor. After a test in a well-lighted room on the eye-hand coordination, she was taken back to the dark room with the lights on. She began to cry immediately while being placed on the floor.
129 Days Old. - She cried whenever she was left in the room alone.
136 Days Old. - The baby was left in the dark room with the light on. She began to fuss in one minute and to cry at the end of two minutes. The experimenter went in and stood in front of her without touching her. This did not stop her crying. Then the mother went in and stood in front of her without touching her, but this did not stop her. The moment the mother picked her up, crying ceased.
Although there is little new in this example that throws light upon the emotions, nevertheless it shows most clearly at how early an age the human infant learns to control the actions of its attendants. The conditioned reflex evidently has a genuine function.
Are there other Original Emotional Patterns? - It is thus seen that so far our attempts to bring out emotional patterns distinct from those enumerated above have been barren of result. If it were possible to continue such experiments through a much longer span of a child's life, and if we could face him with a much larger number of situations that more nearly touch his daily life activities, it might be possible to extend the list. It is realized that we are working here with very young members of the human species. A good deal of organization and development takes place after two hundred days. Some very complex situations have yet to be faced, such as masturbation (and in boys especially, the first masturbation after puberty); the first menstruation period in girls; complex situations connected with family life, such as quarrels between the parents, corporal punishment, death of loved ones, all of which have to be met with for a first time. We know from later observation that these do become hitched up to emotional reactions; whether they are original or transferred does not appear from our studies. It would be especially desirable to study the reaction states we now designate by the names of shame and shyness, embarrassment, in this connection. We are of the opinion that most of the asserted emotions are of the consolidated type (that is, emotion plus instinct, plus habit) or emotional attitudes. These are discussed below.
Attention is called here to the limitations of the genetic method. As long as we can keep the baby under constant observation, a great deal of simplification can be obtained in the study of the emotions, but the human infant is a part of a social group and must sooner or later be returned to it. Things happen so fast then that a separate tabulation of events cannot be made. Under ordinary conditions, the emotions take care of themselves in a normal child, that is, society, including of course the parents and the family group, furnishes its own corrective for failure to react emotionally, for wrong emotional reaction and for over or under reactions. At times, however, due either to defective environment or to defective heredity, the emotions may go wrong. The genetic method is not of service. The emotional life of the individual must then be studied by the psychopathologist. Again, in business and professional life (especially in the Army and Navy), more and more emphasis is being placed upon what may be called emotional temperament. It is thus evident that the applied psychologist must have some means of making studies of emotional activity in adults. Finally, the scientific psychologist, for methodological and purely technical reasons, devises methods for the study of emotions in the hope that they will yield scientific results, or that his methods may prove of such value that they can be employed by the psychopathologist, by the criminologist and by the applied psychologist. A short account of the methods which can be used where the genetic method is not applicable follows:
Methods Employed in the Detection of Implicit Emotional Response. - The explicit portions of the pattern reaction in emotion are, as we have tried to indicate, usually the least important constituents. When they appear, systematic observation enables us to note them with sufficient scientific accuracy. In the study of criminals, of psychogenic disorders and of normal individuals, often all explicit emotional manifestations disappear. The exciting situation is complex. On the one hand it inhibits overt vocal response, but on the other initiates a train of (visceral) implicit activity. Questioning the subject may reveal nothing. He may deny that the stimulus produced any reaction whatever, and yet the next moment he may drop his cigarette, bite his nails, or hesitate or stumble over a word. Popularly we speak in such cases of deceit, concealment of the emotion, 'repressions.' In many cases, however, the individual would report his observations upon himself correctly, if he could observe them, but the movements may be of such a fleeting character as to escape observation, or his intellectual level may be of such a low grade that he cannot make the observation. In such cases there are often so many disturbing factors that self-observation is not possible. Several methods are in use by means of which we can detect the implicit side of emotion.
1. The Controlled Association Word Reaction. - The subject is told to respond immediately with a word to a given visual or auditory word stimulus. The stimulus words are made up before the test. Some of the words are neutral, the others are the 'significant' words which refer to the emotional situation. The indicators of implicit response or tension obtained from the subject are unduly long reactions (with occasional appearance of explicit forms such as the giggle, dropping the eyes, a flush); significant response words, showing that the stimulus word was a part of the emotional setting; repetition of the same word; too rapid responses; low level responses; failure in responses (there are several variations in this method).
2. The Free Association Method. - The subject is started on any selected word, possibly a fragment from a dream, and told to 'speak the words as they come.' He begins. For a time the words come freely and then they fail. There is blockage. New associated lines are begun. Sooner or later, however, in disturbed cases all lines seem to converge and blockage occurs whatever the start may have been. The blockage seems to occur at the point where the words relating to the emotionally exciting object belong in the associated train of words.
3. Dream study and analysis often reveal emotional tension. They may be studied by the common sense method of questioning the patient now from one angle now from another, but they are often analyzed by employing the two methods described above singly or in combination. Dreams are a part of a person's total reaction. They are as good indicators of the nature of his personality, of his stresses and strains and emotional life generally, as are any of his other activities. We have already stated that we can judge the emotional level of an individual by watching his daily routine of activity. To make this statement complete, the dream activity in sleep and day-dreams must be taken into account. These are word reactions but not isolated reactions or reactions of the muscle twitch kind. They are connected and associated activity, fully as complete oftentimes as housebuilding, delivering a lecture, or putting through a big business deal. The study of dreams, since the dream language is extremely symbolic, requires individuals especially trained in that field.
4. The study of slips of word or pen, poor adjustments, over and under reactions, bodily postures and attitudes. These can be studied by general observation and by the methods which are employed in the study of dreams.
In discussing these methods, it should be stated that the psychologist busies himself with them principally from a methodological standpoint, that is, by determining the range of applicability, their reliability, the best technique., etc. The psychopathologist uses them for practical purposes. The reshaping and rebalancing of a personality often depends upon the finding of situations connected with an emotion, or upon finding out whether there is an emotion where normally there should be one. He uses all of the above methods, and in addition his common sense, combining it all with general observation of the patient's whole personality. In gathering his data, it is often necessary and desirable for him to question the patient upon the significant events of his life history; the things he is naturally inclined to do and inclined not to do (positive and negative reaction tendencies); the books he has read, the way they affected him; the types of situation in real or dramatic life which influenced him most; his main emotional assets; the easiest way to get an emotional rise out of him; the trend of his daydreams and the types of aircastles he builds; what his chief lines of sensitiveness are; his conflicts and temptations, and the way he finds himself meeting these difficulties. A full discussion of these factors requires more space than we can give.
In addition to the above methods, several others are being developed:
5. The determination of increased sugar in the blood or urine before and after presentation of a stimulus when there is reason to infer that the stimulus is not without significance.
6. The emotional questionary of Woodworth, and the various character analysis outlines. The subject answers by 'yes' or 'no' a series of questions, such as: Were you considered a bad boy? Were you shy with other boys? Do you know of anybody who is trying to do you harm? Did you ever make love to a girl? Have you ever had any great 'mental' shock? Does it make you uneasy to have to cross a wide street or an open square? Did you ever feel a strong desire to steal things? Did you ever have the habit of biting your finger nails? Do your feelings keep changing from happy to sad and from sad to happy without any reason? Have you ever been afraid of going insane? If there is unstable emotional temperament, the fact is supposed to be revealed by the nature of the answers.
7. The so-called psycho-galvanic reflex. Here the subject sits in a quiet room with two non-polarizable electrodes upon two parts of the body. The electrodes are connected to a sensitive galvanometer. A definite deflection of the needle is obtained. Emotional stimuli are then given, and their effect noted by the deflection of the needle. So far in our laboratory this method has not been found serviceable. It is hoped, however, that with an improved technique, the action currents in the heart revealed by the string galvonometer can be made to yield serviceable results.
8. The so-called expressive methods. These consist of the recording of the respiratory changes, vaso-motor changes; automatic writing and drawing (planchette). Such methods in general have proven of slight value. The respiratorycurve is a very sensitive indicator (showing conditioned reflexes quite clearly) but it is subject to so many influences that the significant changes are often obscured and their interpretation is made difficult. This is equally true of vaso-motor changes.
Substitution of Stimulus: Attachments and Detachments: - Under the action of environmental factors (habit influences) situations which originally did not call out emotional response come later to do so. This enlargement of the range of stimuli capable of calling out emotional activity is responsible largely for the complexity we see in the emotional life of the adult. We obtain some of the clearest and at the same time some of the simplest examples of stimulus substitutions of this type in the animal world. In 1905 the author while working with rats had a small trap door in the home alley in a maze. The animals in running the final lap would walk over the trap, throw it, and thus shut themselves off in the food box. The trap sank somewhat as the animals passed over it and made considerable noise when released. After running over it once or twice, the animals showed every sign of fear - crouching, trembling, panting, defecating. They refused to eat. After two or three more trials, they began to jump the whole trap. The noise and the slight sinking of the trap which so terrified them was thus avoided, but nevertheless the fear reaction remained. Even after the trap had been removed' and the floor made perfectly smooth, the rats continued for many trips to jump at the old position of the trap, springing over just as though the trap were actually present. Every evidence of fear remained. We see the same substitutipns very clearly in the horse. If a horse is violently frightened at a certain point on the road by a terrifying object (a rolling paper in one observed case), it may exhibit the fear reaction when again passing over that part of the road although the terrifying object is no longer present. A shaky bridge will make a sensitive horse terror-stricken, and this will endure long after the bridge has been made of concrete.
The same phenomenon is clearly observable in children. As was brought out above they show little fear of animals. If however one animal succeeds in arousing fear, any moving furry animal thereafter may arouse it. In one observed case a child at 180 days had a small dog tossed into its carriage. She became terrified and thereafter showed marked reactions not only to dogs but even to rapid mechanically moving toys. At 600 days she was placed on the floor near her mother and father and two children with whom she had been playing. A very tame white mouse was placed on the floor near her. She watched it for a moment, her lips puckered, she shook slowly from side to side, squirmed, retracted hands and arms, broke into a cry, scrambled to her feet and fell headlong into her father's arms.
The emotional transfers begin very early in life. The following diary of one of the infants under observation in the laboratory is clearly expressive of the process:
Lee, 67, 80 and 87 Days of Age. - When first laid on the couch (where grasping reflex was tested) she would smile and gurgle on all of the above dates, but after testing the grasping reflex, she would cry the moment she was put back on the couch. When picked up she would stop, and when put down she would start to cry. If left on the couch for any length of time, she would stop crying, but if the experimenter approached her or touched her hands with the grasping rod, she would immediately start to cry.
101 Days of Age. - She was laid on the couch by her mother. She gurgled and smiled. The mother then took her up and held her for a few minutes and again put her down. Again she smiled and gurgled. The experimenter then tried out the grasping reflex upon each hand. She cried loudly and struggled. As the experimenter first approached her with the rod to make this test she did not cry, but when the rod was put into her hand she began to whimper and actually cried before lifting was begun. After the test the mother took her up and held her until she became quiet. She was laid down, but immediately began to cry. The mother again took her up and quieted her and put her down with the same result. Repeated, with the same result.
108 Days of Age. - The above conditioned reflex did not carry over completely for the week. When her mother first laid her on the couch she did not cry. She was quite restless however. The first contact of the rod in the left hand caused only a whimper. This became stronger on touching her right hand. She cried outright as soon as the rod was raised and before she had supported very much of her weight.
115 Days of Age. - As soon as the mother was seated with the baby in her lap, the experimenter entered the room and tried to put a piece of candy in her hand (earlier tests had been made upon the eye-hand coordination). She began immediately to whimper and then to cry. This in all probability was the carrying over of the conditioned reflex, i.e., the visual stimulus of the experimenter was enough to set off the crying reflex.
The fear reactions we see in the dark, in graveyards at night, at lightning, and in many other definite situations, probably belong in the conditioned emotional reaction class. We would put all of the definite phobias (where the reaction is to a definite situation or object) in this class. Such reactions are more numerous in individuals of the unstable emotional type, and especially among frontier and primitive people where every crackling of a twig or cry of an animal or shaking of a bough may be fraught with danger.
Rage, likewise, is capable of being attached now to one object, now to another, in an ever widening series. That is, given an original situation that will arouse rage, attachments will occur whenever conditions are at hand for the arousal of conditioned reflexes. An individual hampers the use of the child's arms and legs, constrains it, or holds it badly when dressing it, (original condition for arousing rage). Soon the mere sight of that individual arouses the rage components. Finally an entire stranger whose appearance is even slightly similar to that of the first individual may set off the responses.
The transfers or conditioning observed in love are seen to best advantage in the psychiatric clinic. However, such substitutions are seen in every day life in profusion. The mother who has lost a child may put the same loving care upon the child's crib, clothing or toys that she would put upon the child itself. The man who has lost his wife may exhibit toward his daughter much of the tender and respectful solicitude that he would shower upon his wife. We shall not attempt to enlarge further upon attachments of this type we see in love, since in recent years the subject has received sufficient attention at the hands of the psychoanalytic school.
A great many of the so-called transfers we see in love probably belong under the vaguer type of behavior discussed below under 'emotional outlets.'
In general then it seems safe to say that when an emotionally exciting object stimulates the subject simultaneously with one not emotionally exciting, the latter may in time (often after one such joint stimulation) arouse the same emotional reaction as the former. It is probable that conditioned reflexes of the second, third and succeeding orders are also continually arising. In the process, the reaction pattern probably gets broken up to a large extent. Part reactions belonging to love, rage and fear might all appear in the reaction to such a substituted stimulus.
In addition to this sudden type of transfer or substitution which undoubtedly belongs in the class of conditioned reflexes, there are the 'attachments' and 'detachments' to persons, places and things which come by the slow process of association or habit connection. They probably do not differ in origin from the type just considered except for the increased length of time required for their formation.
Emotional Outlets: Diffusion. - We spoke earlier of changes in the general level of activity due to emotional disturbance. We spoke there of a normal, of a high and of a low level. Probably if an individual were perfectly balanced, the distribution of emotional activity would be uniform and all organized activity would share equally, i.e., there would be a mere change in level. But few individuals possess that perfect balance which would make this possible. Furthermore society and one's own organization often make emotional outlets impossible along certain lines. When emotional expression is blocked in any one region, outlet seems to take place somewhere else. An illustration will make the point clear: A is insulted by a larger man, or by an older or a younger man, or by one from whom he is receiving his daily bread. The instinct and habit organization of A would lead to an attack, or at least to its equivalent - a strong verbal retort. But other features in the total situation (the fact that he is larger, older, younger) inhibit these outlets.
The emotional pressure however has been aroused. He may proceed to his office, fire his bookkeeper or office boy or terrorize his stenographer. One's family often suffers most in such cases. If a man's wife causes the emotional rise, the children are apt to suffer. The outlet, however, may not always be a harsh word or a blow. If the emotion partakes of the fear or rage components, the blow or harsh word is most frequent. If the thwarted emotion is of the love type, the final outlet may be exhibited by showering kind words or benefits upon someone other than the person calling out but thwarting the love emotion. If the thwarting is brought about by the death of the loved object, the outlet may be found in grief or suicide.
Human life is full of such outlets. If society as a whole puts on too many restrictions (rage) and the thwarted individual is not well-balanced, the outlet may be through burglary or vandalism. In balanced individuals it may have its outlet through swearing or in privately railing at the restrictions of society.
In certain individuals, either through inferior constitution or the narrowness or restrictiveness of their environment, no external outlet seems to be possible. The emotional drainage expresses itself in some form of attitude; by withdrawal or shrinkage from contact with fellow humans of any kind; in drink or drugs; in ruminations, day-dreams and air-castles—i.e., there may be an implicit language outlet.
The point which rationalizes and gives a reason for all such behavior seems to be, that the individual by so reacting gets relaxation and freedom from emotional pressure. Popularly we speak of 'working off' the emotion, that 'one's rage is cooled' by this or that. The study of these various outlets when they assume pathological form and interfere with the remaining activities of the individual or with those organized functions which society demands of each individual, and the reshaping of such individuals, belong to psychiatry. We see however the same factors at work even in 'normal' individuals, and our training as psychologists is not complete until we are able to note the signs of emotional maladjustment.
We have not the evidence at hand to affirm the view that all of the phenomena seen in diffusion belong to the conditioned reflex realm. The activity seems to be too little stereotyped and entirely too complex to belong in that category. The attachment is not focalized. Probably the simplest way of stating the generally observed fact is that too great emotional pressure is drained off through whatever channel environmental (social) and hereditary factors make possible.
Consolidation among Emotion, Instinct and Habit; Attitudes. - Observation seems to show that combinations or integrations occur among emotional, instinctive and habit activities. Our discussion of these integrations will be handicapped to some extent by our not having had opportunity to study instinct and habit. Possibly the activities we see in 'anger' or its more active attitude 'fighting' best illustrate the points to be presented. Anger as we see it exhibited in the insect world probably remains on the emotional instinctive level (hereditary). Habit activities are at a minimum in these animals (though not wholly lacking). In the human race certainly the exciting stimulus is usually one which hampers, jostles, crowds or constrains the individual - the stimulus to rage. The instinctive factors are striking out with the arms and hands, grasping, running toward the object, probably biting it, the while unfleshing the lips. Defensive movements also occur of the instinctive kind. The habit factors express themselves in the scientific 'form' of attack and defense: the way the arms are held to avoid giving the enemy an opening, planting the blow on a vulnerable spot - the eyes or the solar plexus, and in the stance of the feet. The whole group is integrated, the part reactions work together. The individual becomes a fighting-defending, unitary action mass. If the environmental factors are such that actual fighting cannot occur, the subject assumes the 'defiant' attitude. All three factors are still present even in the attitude. Many of the emotion, instinct and habit action tendencies are constrained by social factors. The emphasis has then of course to fall back on the emotional component of the action mass.
In the above rage predominated as the emotional constituent, the hereditary attack and defense movement as the instinct and the trained activities as the habitual. Probably all other forms of emotion - those of the native or more fundamental type, as love and fear, and the broken up, combined and consolidated types which we get through substitution - show the types of combination shown above. To attempt to list these, to show their history and formation through the process of substitution and consolidation, would require a volume (and a very necessary one) of its own. Only a few will be touched upon here. The so-called submissive or inferiority attitude shows itself at once as having fear as the most prominent emotional element. The instinctive factor may not be clearly overt, but it is in general. It manifests itself in shrinking, submission and avoiding - sometimes with the body as a whole, sometimes with special organs as the lips and the eyes. The habitual factor shows itself especially in the language behavior of the adult - hastening to agree, avoiding an argument, and the hesitant voice.
In the sphere of love there are numerous attitudes as shown by the popular expressions 'lovelorn,' 'lovesick,' tenderness and sympathy; more fundamental and prominent attitudes are those of shyness, shame, embarrassment, jealousy, envy, hate, pride, suspicion, resentment, anguish and anxiety. There are many combinations of emotional habit and instinctive factors in all of these attitudes. They actually function by limiting the range of stimuli to which the person is sensitive. For the individual they are fundamental attributes of character, as much a part of him as his arms or legs or his method of attacking a new problem.
This very superficial analysis is not at all commensurate with the role these attitudes play in the life of the individual. In studying the life history of any person we can see how they have oftentimes furthered or hindered his life work and disturbed his personal balance. Shyness and the inferiority attitude may keep a man tied all his life to an accustomed, but unremunerative job. They have oftentimes prevented his marriage or brought about a poorly adjusted marriage or kept him out of a wider social circle. On the other hand, in other cases too much aggressiveness has just as often made impossible a man's chances of making good business and social connections.
Results of the Physiological Study of Emotions. A. Duct Glands and Smooth Muscles. - The recent physiological work upon the duct glands of the mouth and stomach has brought out the fact that when the human or animal subject is under the influence of the stimulus of hunger (rhythmical contraction* of stomach muscles) conditioned secretion reflexes occur when food (food positively reacted to) is allowed to stimulate the animal visually or olfactorily.
Under the influence of emotional stimuli these part activities are often blocked. This aspect of the phenomena of secretion and movement of the smooth muscles of the stomach is undoubtedly a part of the physiological study of emotion. A number of observers have shown that emotionally exciting situations do check the functioning of the glands. If a child with a gastric fistula is shown food and is then badgered by first handing it to him and then taking it away and then causing it to disappear from vision, crying and other definite signs of an emotional state appear. The secretions are checked. Similar conditions obtain in the case of dogs: if they are put in strange surroundings or if they are fastened in a holder, or finally if they are shown their natural enemy, the cat, the flow of secretion is checked. If the emotional state is long continued, in both man and animals even the unconditioned reflexes may fail for some time, i.e., the actual contact of the substance may fail to arouse the flow of the gastric juices.
A similar phenomenon appears in connection with the peristaltic movements of the stomach, and indeed of the movements on the muscular layer of the whole alimentary canal. Restraining the animal, covering its mouth and nose with the finger, check the stomach contractions very quickly. But we have just seen that stimuli of this kind produce the emotion of rage. The same phenomena appear in the case of man. People under the influence of fear and rage frequently do not digest their food (due to the checking of secretion) and the food remains in the stomach (due to lack of movements necessary to pass the contents of the canal along).
Excitation of the pain receptors has the same effect as emotional disturbance (probably is a stimulus to rage) both upon secretion and upon the stomach contractions. It is probable that any of the highly exciting emotions act in the same way as those discussed above. Sex emotions aroused by salacious photographs, and pictures, have a definite inhibitory effect upon the rate and amount of secretion of the parotid gland and upon certain reflexes (swallowing).
B. Effect of Exciting Stimuli upon the Ductless Glands. - Apparently one of the most important effects that emotional stimuli exert is the release of adrenin. The adrenin in turn liberates sugar from the stored supply in the liver, often in amounts greater than the body can consume. Glycosuria results, i. e., the excess sugar passes over into the urine. This phenomenon often occurs in battle and in extreme emotional situations of any kind (depressing or exciting). Cannon states that young male cats when fastened in a holder become quite frantic, with eyes wide open and pupils dilated; the pulse is accelerated and the hairs of the tail become more or less erect; they snarl and growl as they try to free themselves. Whenever this excited condition occurs there is glycosuria (in from forty minutes to an hour and a half). When a small dog is allowed to bark at the cats, causing them to become excited, the glycosuria manifests itself. Similar results occur in the case of the human being. After hard examinations or exciting athletic contests, students show temporary glycosuria.
When glycosuria occurs, it is an indication of an increased supply of sugar in the blood, since so long as the kidneys are uninjured sugar cannot pass out into the urine until an excessive supply of sugar is at hand. Testing for sugar in the urine is really a very coarse method of detecting the emotional effect of a stimulus. Recently very sensitive methods have been discovered for detecting the presence of increase of sugar in the blood. A large amount of material has collected in our laboratory as the result of blood sugar tests. It is unquestionably a very delicate indicator and revealer of emotional changes. It has been used in connection with the association word reaction method. This method may be operated as follows: One individual does a certain act and a second individual remains quietly in another room. The two return to the experimental room and the experimenter must decide from the word responses (hesitations, etc.) which one of the individuals performed the act in question. A small amount (few drops) of blood is obtained from both individuals both before the test is made and after and the percentage of blood sugar determined in all four specimens. The individual having committed the 'crime' shows as a result the greater increase in blood sugar. The blood sugar reaction can thus be used as a supplementary method of detecting 'guilt.'
The method is probably delicate enough to decide whether a given individual is emotionally aroused by the mere presence of another individual. These results were obtained by Dr. N. D. C. Lewis. They have not yet been published. It has been shown conclusively that if the adrenal glands are removed emotional stimuli will not cause this increase in sugar either in the blood or in the urine (Cannon and others). The conclusion is well sustained then that emotional stimuli through a reflex mechanism set free adrenin which in turn acts upon the supply of sugar in the liver and converts it into a form which can be used by the muscles after it gets into the blood stream.
In addition to its sugar conversion effect upon the liver, adrenin acts in conjunction with the sympathetic nerves and produces vaso-constriction and hence an increased blood pressure. It has been shown that when a given muscle is active, its blood vessels dilate, thus tending to decrease arterial pressure. If many muscles are called into action at any given moment, these dilated vessels may so reduce arterial pressure that the muscles fail to get their proper food.
Waste products also accumulate in the muscles." Adrenin because of its reinforcing effect upon the vaso-constrictor nerves produces heightened arterial pressure, which increases the food supply to the muscle and removes waste products. The blood is driven out of the vegetative organs of the interior into the skeletal muscles, which have to meet the extra demand when the animal is fighting and struggling to free itself.
C. Specific Effect of Adrenin. - There seems to be general agreement that the free adrenin in the blood acts directly upon the muscle in such a way as to neutralize fatigue products. "What rest will do only after an hour or more, adrenin will do in five minutes or less" (Cannon). This result is in addition to adrenin's function in producing a greater food supply to the muscle and increasing the amount of blood circulating through the muscle. After a muscle has been fatigued, i. e., has lost its irritability, the injection of adrenin into the blood (or stimulation of the splanchnic nerve) will rapidly restore the muscle to its resting condition. Cannon also maintains that the presence of adrenin hastens clotting of the blood, which in wounded animals might be advantageous. His results in this respect have not been confirmed by other physiologists.
Apparent Conflict between Formulations. - There seems to be a conflict between our early statements about emotion and those gathered from the physiological studies just reported. We first expressed the view that if the emotional stimulus was strong enough or continued for a sufficient length of time paralysis or the death feint would occur. The state attained here is surely not adaptive. The result of the physiological study seemed to show that the organism under the influence of exciting stimuli often takes on a bettered state, one in which greater muscular activity and less fatigue is possible. The conflict can be harmonized. The 'improved' physiological state is apparently due to the action of the autacoid substances. Physiologists have shown that such substances act like drugs. If a small amount of a certain drug, say strychnine, is administered, increased appetite and increased muscular activity ensue. A bettered general physiological condition may result. On the other hand, if too large an amount is given, the muscles may become rigid and the subject may die. Pbssibly a similar thing happens in the case of the autacoids. If the substances are set free in too large amounts, there is one type of action, namely, the paralyzing effect. If set free in physiologically serviceable amounts, their action may produce a combined series of reflexes, the total result of which may be a bettered physiological state.
The physiologists have unquestionably overemphasized the adaptive character in all of the major emotions. From Cannon's work it is easy to see how under the emotions of rage, fear and pain stimulation, the possibility of increased muscular effort might be of value, as in fighting, flight, etc. On the other hand it is difficult to see how this physiological state is of value unless the organism is in a situation where the increased muscular possibilities are to be used, but such situations are rare. A soldier in the army receives a letter telling him that his wife has gone off with another man. The news is undoubtedly a strong stimulus; depression takes place and examination shows the presence of sugar in the urine, and naturally an increased supply in the blood, but his routine of camp activity happens to be such that no great muscular demand is made upon him. We may grant Cannon's general position and yet maintain that it is not a very serviceable concept for the ordinary routine of daily life. We are no longer living in a frontier country, and outside of an occasional war, there is not much opportunity to bare our teeth and struggle for existence in the good old primitive way of our ancestors. Cannon's appeal to the biological serviceableness of the emotional reaction needs modification.
There would seem to be no question, but that the immediate effect of the exciting stimuli upon organized activity, as was brought out earlier, is always disruptive. If an individual is preparing a lecture or writing a book or rendering a musical selection, any strong emotional stimulus at least temporarily disrupts and blocks the organized activity.
The same thing would occur if a group of officers were preparing plans to make an attack on the enemy the following day, and a shell were to burst and tear down a portion of the building in which they were working. It would thus seem necessary to state that the immediate effect of an exciting stimulus is unadaptive, disassociative and disruptive. The immediate effect may endure for an extremely short time, or for a longer time. We have found that the increased sugar in the blood may endure for several hours even after fairly slight emotional stimulation. There is thus a post-shock or postemotional state. Apparently the post-emotional state may be of such a character that (1) the organism is left less well adjusted and less capable of carrying out organized activities. As an example of this, the death of a child may leave the mother in a depressed and apathetic condition which may endure for months. On the other hand (2) the post-emotional state may be of such a character that the organism is in a bettered physiological state; the activities going on before the emotional stimulus appeared may be resumed under a condition of facilitation and reinforcement. An example of this occurs when a parent punishes a child: there may be immediate improvement noticeable in his whole behavior (but the reverse may also happen; the child may be thrown into a sullen state which might endure for some time). As a less ambiguous example, take the case of an individual working at a low ebb. He receives a letter containing a check which, while it blocks his activity for the moment, has as its post-emotional effect a tremendous influence upon the speed and accuracy of his work for the remainder of the day or even for a longer period. In general we may assume that the effect of an emotion arousing stimulus upon the general level of activity may produce facilitation or the reverse; or it may leave the level unchanged. What result will occur depends upon a great many factors: The nature of the exciting stimulus, the individual's character, his general bodily state, etc.
Role of Emotion in Daily Life. - The main fact about emotion seems to be that the human organism is built to react in emotional ways. We stated in the beginning that they are inherited modes of action. Consequently it is not incumbent upon us as psychologists to give any detailed statement as to their biological serviceableness in keeping the race alive. We should be content with describing the facts and pointing out the role that emotion plays in our development and in our daily life. Of course if one is terribly overawed by Darwin, one cannot react until one has pointed out in detail the utilitarian value of every reaction. We are inclined to believe that in both instinct and emotion there are many part reactions which are of no adaptive value to the organism whatsoever: if the organism possesses enough hereditary structures and modes of reaction to enable it to get along in its environment, the process of evolution (selection or elimination) allows it to possess many luxuries in the way of reaction possibilities.
We do not mean to assume by these precautionary remarks that emotions are without significance in daily life. We would emphasize the point that they can and do exist whether they are always useful, or useful only at times, (1) Even though they were mere luxuries, so far as biological fitness is concerned, they serve to remove the individual from the monotonous level of existing as a highly perfected biological machine. They give him his ups and downs, make the exact prediction of his acts more difficult (troubling the psychologist and psychiatrist thereby), and in general make him a more delightful personality with whom to work, fight and play. (2) As regards their effect upon the possibilities of the achievement of the individual, we are inclined to agree with William James in his 'Energies of Men' that in very exceptional cases, the heightened state which comes after a great emotional crisis may bring about a degree of achievement that could not be dreamed of at the ordinary working level of the individual - Poe, De Quincey, Byron, Goethe and George Sand would probably never have produced their masterpieces under a humdrum regime. One can take selected cases and marshall an imposing array of such instances. On the other hand, one must preserve one's balance in making the assumption that because a few geniuses have produced great works under heightened emotional tension, such exalted states make for or produce genius. The point seems to be that occasionally under a great tension all part reactions hang together and mutually facilitate one another - every asset and every resource of the individual as long as the effect of the emotional state persists are marshalled for the work in hand. Such occasions are rare. The next emotional shock might as its after effect leave the individual trembling, enervated and flat; totally incapable of accomplishing anything except the merest routine. We all know from our own diaries of ourselves that under ordinary circumstances if we have a fine piece of work to do, a championship game to play, a delicate piece of apparatus to manipulate, a fine surgical operation to perform, we would not willingly expose ourselves to any strong emotional situation; and yet the brilliancy of our performance might be increased thereby. Certainly in history such achievements have been accomplished under such conditions. Possibly the sheltering which comes from civilization has built up an attitude of timidity, thereby lessening our readiness to take the chances which our predecessors had to take. Society more and more guards against the presence of strong emotional stimuli, since the weak and possibly even the individual of average ability cannot withstand their effects, however well the genius may thrive under their influence.
It is true that the illustrations in which we see the bad effects of emotional shock have been chosen from activities that demand the fine coordinations of delicate muscles. Would the case be different with more constructive activities? Would the planof a great novel, the writing of a beautiful poem, the painting of a masterpiece, the composition of a great opera be facilitated, or the reverse, by producing in the artist some great emotion? The history of art apparently returns an affimative answer. (3) In observing the daily life of a great many individuals, we seem to see the following factors at work: One individual has reached a low level of adjustment; he can typewrite so many words a minute, or telegraph so many words a minute, or make so many entries in his journal. If this low level of adjustment gives the individual his daily bread, he does not depart from it. His social relations at home and on the outside are on the same dead level. His emotional attitudes are stereotyped: One takes the attitude of suffering at everything; another the religious attitude; still another the hard-done-by and the downtrodden attitude. There seems to be a wall around these people. Is there no way of breaking through this wall and getting the individual to reach a higher level of achievement? Emotionally exciting stimuli occasionally seem to accomplish it. The sudden accession of responsibility or wealth; the enforced demands which come with marriage and the rearing of a family; sometimes even a strong rage or fear may break through the stereotyped and habitual mode of response and arouse the individual to the point where he can accept and profit by intensive training (acquisition of greater skill in his field) and eliminate his errors, work longer hours, and plan his work in a more systematic manner.
Apr 20, 21 01:23 PM
Learn all about the fascinating history of psychology.
Apr 20, 21 01:18 PM
Learn all about 'abnormal psychology,' including an important discussion on whether the term abnormal psychology is actually fit for purpose.
Apr 20, 21 03:24 AM
How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy. Excellent article on pursuing happiness, by renowned psychotherapist and author, Ahron Friedberg, M.D.