= Lack ?
feel anxiously lacking forms
a big part of marketing. And
one of the defining characteristics
of emotion is an urgent sense
of lack a lack of peace;
a tension/agitation; a sense of
This is obvious
with some emotions eg grief,
anger (lack of sense of
fairness or control), fear
(lack of sense of security),
It's less obvious
with "good" emotions,
such as pride until
we notice that people cling
to such emotions.
of lack obviously accompanies feelings
of emptiness and apathy. People
who feel this way mistakenly think
they lack emotion, but they
are experiencing a specific emotional
state, not a lack of emotion.
There are two
opposing viewpoints about the path
to contentment. One sees contentment
as something that is originally
to be strived after and accumulated
(with the help of consumer purchasing
and/or emotions, etc).
The other sees
contentment as something which is
originally present, but which
gets covered up by worries, cares,
emotional baggage, social-status
(These two viewpoints
can be seen as forming another false
dichotomy. They are also isomorphic
to religious orthodoxy/heresy:
you either need to get "God"
from the priests, or "God"
is already inherent within).
which sees contentment as inherently
present can be seen as an "empowering"
alternative to the emotionally-striving,
lacking-accumulating consumer mentality.
But it's not
so empowering when used as a socio-economic
argument: "Since we already
have contentment without
external props, why does society
need to provide things like welfare?
Surely harsh/simple living helps
to uncover our inner contentment".
control system of supposed psychological
"lack" (which seems
to affect rich and poor alike) shouldn't
be confused with external instances
of lack (eg lacking money to pay
rent) which trigger panic emotions.
If you see an old lady being mugged,
you don't tell her to let go of
her "sense of lack of security"
you chase away the mugger,
or call the cops.
Don't use your brain like a
blunt object. Watch out for neurochemical
events (eg emotions) which tend
to rigidify your brain.
Empire of Emotion
How emotions control
Consumer society sells "emotion" like any other
commodity. Most lifestyle products are advertised
for emotional gain – feelings of confidence,
control, success, etc. We're sold socially
appropriate emotions – every social circumstance
needs the "right" emotion, just like every household
task needs the right appliance.
Having the "wrong" emotion gets you in trouble.
Advertisements thus perform an "educational"
function, rescuing humanity from all kinds of
embarrassing, antisocial behaviours brought
on by inappropriate emotional responses. Having
the right product elicits (by conditioned associations)
the "correct" emotion at the right
Negative emotions have a "right" place too.
For example, certain crimes are supposed to
emotionally "sicken" us. To be "sickened" is
the right response, unless the crime
is committed by the state for National Security
purposes, in which case it's the wrong
response. Emotional correctness in these matters
is particularly important for public figures,
who, by expressing appropriate emotions, set
such a valuable example for the rest of us.
The emotional clichés of political speech
require no comment, except to say that the sentimental
emotions surrounding "family" and "country"
achieve the fullest, purest expression within
the most violent branches of Mafia. (If
you don't know what we mean, watch the Godfather
films or The Sopranos, etc).
Given the above hinted-at emotional control
mechanisms, is there an argument for not
playing the emotions game? Yes... but we're
not the right people to promote it – because
it would invite accusations of "cold", "repressed",
"cynical", "emotionally uptight", "unfeeling",
Instead, we'll present the argument of someone
unlikely to be accused of such things. The following
excerpts The Politics
are taken from Timothy Leary's
are the lowest form of consciousness. Emotional
actions are the most contracted, narrowing,
dangerous form of behavior.
The romantic poetry and
fiction of the last 200 years has quite
blinded us to the fact that emotions are
an active and harmful form of stupor.
Any peasant can tell
you that. Beware of emotions. Any child
can tell you that. Watch out for the emotional
person. He is a lurching lunatic.
Emotions are caused by
biochemical secretions in the body to
serve during the state of acute emergency.
An emotional person is a blind, crazed
maniac. Emotions are addictive and narcotic
Do not trust anyone who
comes on emotional.
What are the emotions?
In a book entitled Interpersonal Diagnosis
of Personality, written when I was
a psychologist, I presented classifications
of emotions and detailed descriptions
of their moderate and extreme manifestations.
Emotions are all based on fear. [...]
The emotional person
cannot think; he cannot perform any effective
game action (except in acts of physical
aggression and strength). The emotional
person is turned off sensually. His body
is a churning robot. [...]
The only state in which
we can learn, harmonize, grow, merge,
join, understand is the absence of emotion.
This is called bliss or ecstasy, attained
through centering the emotions. [...]
Conscious love is not
an emotion; it is serene merging with
yourself, with other people, with other
forms of energy. Love cannot exist in
an emotional state. [...]
The great kick of the
mystic experience, the exultant, ecstatic
hit, is the sudden relief from emotional
Did you imagine that
there could be emotions in heaven? Emotions
are closely tied to ego games. Check your
emotions at the door to paradise.
Why, then, are emotions
built into the human repertoire if they
are so painful, demanding and blinding?
There is a basic survival purpose. Emotions
are the emergency alarms. The organism
at the point of death terror goes into
a paroxysm of frantic activity. Like a
fish flipping blindly out of water. Like
a crazy, cornered animal.
There are times when
emotions are appropriate and relevant.
The reflex biochemical spurt. Fight or
flight. There are times when emotional
bluffs, like the hair rising on a dog's
neck, are appropriate. But the sensible
animal avoids situations which elicit
fear and the accompanying emotion. Your
wise animal prefers to relax or to play
The way to turn off the
emotions is to turn on the senses, turn
on to your body... [from pages 37-40]
This article is intended
to provoke thought it contains no certainties
or final answers
Another approach to emotions is offered by some
"self-help" techniques, such as the Sedona
Method, which equates "freedom" with the ability
to "let go" of emotions. This method
rejects the two "normal" ways of dealing with
emotion: expression and suppression.
Whether we express or suppress an emotion is generally
determined by our perception of the appropriateness
of that emotion in a given social setting. Advertising,
media, education and upbringing shape this consensus
perception of "appropriate". The Sedona Method
escapes this control system by providing an alternative
strategy, "letting go", for which it provides
several practical gimmicks.
Other self-help methods do a similar thing
(eg some NLP manuals list a "letting
go" strategy which sounds similar to the Sedona
Method.) Aspects of Buddhism and some forms
of yoga, etc, work in the same direction.
Aside from the practical techniques, the main
benefit comes from realising there's nothing
to stop you freeing yourself from any emotion
(except for the occasional "reflex biochemical
spurt" of "fight or flight").
But there are deeply-entrenched social resistances
to this point of view. Even the "enlightened"
have a residual suspicion that being free
from emotions is somehow "unnatural" or "wrong".
This is probably because they still view emotion
within a false dichotomy of expression vs
suppression – so any emotionless state is
seen as suppression (or "repression")
– and therefore "unhealthy". Only by rejecting
this dichotomy can we perceive relative freedom
from emotions as "good".
Another piece of conventional wisdom worth
rejecting: that we need to be emotional
in order to "feel" or "be sensitive to" nature,
art, people, eroticism, relationships, etc
– which is a falsehood on the same level
as: that we need to be chronically distracted
by trivia in order to feel pleasure (see
The Distraction System
Although beyond the scope of this article,
it's worth pondering why pioneering psychologist
Wilhelm Reich used the term "emotional
plague" to describe certain authoritarian,
fascistic tendencies in "normal",