At the outset of the chapter when we introduced this question, and also in Chapter 1, we proposed that what was needed was a theory that could provide an explanation of emotional order while also shedding some light on the nature of so-called emotional disorder. The various philosophical models that we have reviewed have rarely made explicit statements about the nature of this relationship, and those comments that we have included in the course of the chapter primarily represent inferences that we have been able to draw from this work.
Through these inferences we have tried to show that the feeling theories and the behaviourist theories of emotion offer inadequate accounts of emotional disorder. In contrast, we have argued that the cognitive account of emotion does provide a springboard towards an understanding of these complex issues. This argument rests on the basic idea that emotional responses can be viewed as more or less appropriate reactions to interpretations that are more or less appropriate analyses of events. So, Susan's fear of the bear seems perfectly appropriate; the general consensus would be that the bear would be likely to eat her if it caught her and that therefore it is dangerous. In contrast, if we consider the example of somebody who has a fear of beautiful women (caligynephobia!), then it does not seem outrageous to argue that this fear of beautiful women is somehow an inappropriate emotional reaction or even an emotional disorder. The important point is that the emotional process is the same in both cases: there is an appraisal of danger which leads to a physiological change and a desire to avoid the dangerous object. These somewhat polarised examples are clearly a gross oversimplification and Part 2 of this book is concerned with presenting a considerably more detailed and, hopefully, more thoughtful analysis of these issues.
Hand in hand with notions of emotional disorder goes the issue of therapy. Again, we will consider this issue in greater detail later; however, it is useful to offer up some preliminary points at this juncture. At the simplest level, and to use a tried and trusted example from cognitive therapy (see Chapter 4), consider the interpretation that the noise which wakes us up in the middle of the night is that of an armed intruder. We are likely to subsequently appraise this interpretation as one indicative of danger and feel afraid. However, if we then discover that the noise was made by the cat, the fear goes away. Here, the process of changing the interpretation and hence the appraisal is enough to dissipate the emotion.
Within the cognitive model of emotions, this simplified example is really what therapy may be seen to be trying to achieve. However, most beliefs or interpretations are not as accessible as the noise in the night example and they are often held with far greater conviction. Furthermore, they may be difficult to express in natural language. So, at the other end of the scale from the burglar/cat scenario we might find the case of the individual with a fear of mice. It seems possible that in this instance the "interpretation" that mice are somehow harmful could be so deep rooted and inaccessible that the person would agree there is no reason to be afraid of mice and even that she does not explicitly believe that mice are harmful while still reacting with fear in the presence of a mouse. In cases of phobia such as this, it is a lot harder to shift the emotional beliefs and appraisals, although perhaps one is dealing here with different routes to emotion, as will be elaborated in Chapter 5.
In between these two extremes lie a whole range of instances of ordered and disordered beliefs, interpretations, and appraisals and an equally mind-boggling choice of therapies with which to take them on. Some approaches, such as the psycho-dynamic, involve a process of developing insight into what the underlying beliefs, interpretations, and appraisals might be; the argument being that an understanding of these issues allows the possibility of change. Other processes rely on constructing more "appropriate" beliefs, interpretations, and appraisals either through behavioural demonstration or through reasoned argument. We shall return to all of these issues at points throughout the rest of the book.
To sum up, in the present chapter we have sought to provide an overview of philosophical thought on emotions and to develop a philosophical framework by which to judge the theories of emotion developed in psychology that we review in Chapters 3 and 4. This framework is illustrated in the answers to the eight questions above and reflects our conviction that what we have called a strong cognitive theory of emotions can potentially provide the best model of emotional order and disorder. Finally, there are many issues in the philosophy of emotions that we have not touched upon; after all, this is essentially a book about the psychology of emotions. However, we have endeavoured to expose the heart of the philosophy literature in the hope that it can be transplanted successfully into the more psychological discussions that follow.
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Learning About Letting Go, Moving On Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life And Success! Don't be held back by the past - face your guilt and fears and move on! Letting go is merely arriving at a decision, no more allowing something from the past tense to influence your life today or to cut down your inner sense of peace and welfare.