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trivial nature from trivial causes; the soul may be plunged into despair because one has been denied a gift or a
pleasure. The demonstrativeness of grief or sorrow is not at all in proportion to the emotion felt; it is more
often based on the effort to get sympathy and help. For sorrow is "Help, help" in one form or another, even
though one refuses to be comforted. All our emotions, because they are socially powerful, become somewhat
theatrical; in some completely theatrical. We are so constituted that emotional display is not indifferent to us;
it pleases, repels, annoys, angers, frightens, disgusts or awes us according to the kind of emotion displayed,
the displayer and the circumstances.
The psychologists speak of sympathy as this susceptibility to the emotions of others, but there is an antipathy
to their emotions, as well. If we feel that our emotions will be "well received," we do not fear to display them,
and therein is one of the uses of the friend. If we feel that they will be poorly received, that they will annoy or
anger or disgust, we strive to repress them. The expression of emotion, especially of fear and sorrow, has
become synonymous with weakness, and a powerful self-feeling operates against their display, especially in
adults, men and certain races. It is no accident that the greatest actors are from the Latin and Hebrew races, for
there is a certain theatricality in fear and sorrow that those schooled to repression lose. We resent what we call
insincerity in emotional expression because we fear being "fooled," and there are many whose experiences in
being "fooled" chill sympathy with doubt. We resent insincere sympathy, on the other hand, because we regret
showing weakness before those to whom that weakness is regarded as such and who perhaps rejoice at it as
ridiculous. We like the emotional expression of children because we can always sympathize, through our
tender feeling with them, and their very sincerity pleases as well.
Is there a harm in the repression of emotion? Is emotion a heaped-up tension which, unless it is discharged,
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This note was uploaded on 09/26/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 110 taught by Professor Kannan during the Spring '11 term at Anna University Chennai - Regional Office, Coimbatore.
- Spring '11