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The Place Of Emotion





Feeling Cannot Be Separated from Thinking.--Emotion we found the
constant accompaniment of every other mental activity. It is first on
the stage of consciousness and, in the normal mind, last to withdraw.

When I am working at a problem in doses or solutions, trying to learn my
materia medica, or wrestling with the causes of disease in my
medical nursing, or thinking how I can eke out my last ten dollars
till I get some more, I am pursued with some vague or well-defined
feeling of annoyance or satisfaction, of displeasure or pleasure. If all
goes well, the latter; if not, the former.

Feeling Cannot Be Separated from Will.--I cannot will without a
feeling accompaniment, pleasant or unpleasant. I may be using my will
only in carrying out what intellect advises. But we found that
intellect's operations are always affective, i. e., have some feeling
of pleasure or pain. And the very act of will itself is a pleasant one
and much easier if it is making me do what I want to do; it is a vaguely
or actively unpleasant one if it is making me act against desire. In the
end, however, if I act against desire in pursuance of reason or a sense
of duty, the feeling of pleasure in the victory of my better self is
asserted. And feeling cannot be separated from will.

Feeling Cannot Be Separated from Action.--I cannot do anything without
a feeling of comfort or discomfort, happiness or unhappiness. Try it for
yourself when you are feeding a patient, making a bed, giving a bath or
massage, preparing a hypodermic. Other things being normal, if you are
performing the task perfectly, the feeling of satisfaction, of pleasure,
of the very ability to work effectively, with speed and accuracy and
nicety, comes with the doing. If you are bungling, there is a pervading
sense of dissatisfaction, of unpleasantness. In the automatic or
semi-automatic action a great economy of nature has conservatively put
feeling at the absolute minimum; but it has not eradicated it. As you
walk across the ward, though your predominating thought and feeling may
be elsewhere, there is a sense of pleasure or displeasure in the very
movement. If your body is fresh and you are of an energetic type and in
happy frame of mind, a pervasive feeling of satisfaction is experienced.
If tired or discouraged or sore from unaccustomed exercise, every step
registers protest.

Thus we find by experiment that there is no thought we have, no single
conscious movement or action, nor any expression of the will, but is
accompanied with what the psychologist broadly terms pleasure or
pain. So emotion, the first expression of mentality, is never absent
from any mental or physical act. It permeates all we do, as well as all
we think and will, with the partial exception of automatic action, above
indicated.





Next: The Beginning Of Reason

Previous: Memory



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Viewed 2016