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Are passions, then, the pagans of the soul?
Reason alone baptiz'd ? --Edward Young, Night-Thoughts

"There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a Plunge. To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost; for reflection but urges us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot." --"The Imp of the Perverse" (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe

This page Emotion is part of the mind series. Illustration: The Heart Has its Reasons (c. 1887) by Odilon Redon
This page Emotion is part of the mind series.
Illustration: The Heart Has its Reasons (c. 1887) by Odilon Redon
Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
Designs by French artist Charles Le Brun, from Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions (1698), a book about the physiognomy of the 'passions'.
Designs by French artist Charles Le Brun, from Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions (1698), a book about the physiognomy of the 'passions'.

Related e



Emotion, in its most general definition, is an intense mental state that arises automatically in the nervous system rather than through conscious effort, and evokes either a positive or negative psychological response. An emotion is similar to a feeling.



Borrowed from Middle French emotion (modern French émotion), from émouvoir (“excite”), based on Latin ēmōtus, past participle of ēmoveō (“to move out, move away, remove, stir up, irritate”), from ē- (“out”) (variant of ex-), and moveō (“move”).


There are basic and complex categories, where some basic emotions can be modified in some way to form complex emotions (for example, Paul Ekman). In one model, the complex emotions could arise from cultural conditioning or association combined with the basic emotions. Alternatively, analogous to the way primary colors combine, primary emotions could blend to form the full spectrum of human emotional experience. For example interpersonal anger and disgust could blend to form contempt.

Further to this, relationships exist between basic emotions, such as having positive or negative influences, with direct opposites existing. The contrasting and categorization of emotions describes these relationships. Robert Plutchik proposed a three-dimensional "circumplex model" which describes the relations among emotions. This model is similar to a color wheel. The vertical dimension represents intensity, and the circle represents degrees of similarity among the emotions. He posited eight primary emotion dimensions arranged as four pairs of opposites. Some have also argued for the existence of meta-emotions which are emotions about emotions.

A distinction is then made between emotion episodes and emotional dispositions. Dispositions are also comparable to character traits, where someone may be said to be generally disposed to experience certain emotions, though about different objects. For example an irritable person is generally disposed to feel irritation more easily or quickly than others do. Finally, some theorists (for example, Klaus Scherer, 2005) place emotions within a more general category of "affective states" where affective states can also include emotion-related phenomena such as pleasure and pain, motivational states (for example, hunger or curiosity), moods, dispositions and traits.

The neural correlates of hate have been investigated with an fMRI procedure. In this experiment, people had their brains scanned while viewing pictures of people they hated. The results showed increased activity in the medial frontal gyrus, right putamen, bilaterally in the premotor cortex, in the frontal pole, and bilaterally in the medial insula of the human brain. The researchers concluded that there is a distinct pattern of brain activity that occurs when people are experiencing hatred (Zeki and Romaya, 2008).

Notable theorists

In the late 19th century, the most influential theorists were William James (1842–1910) and Carl Lange (1834–1900). James was an American psychologist and philosopher who wrote about educational psychology, psychology of religious experience/mysticism, and the philosophy of pragmatism. Lange was a Danish physician and psychologist. Working independently, they developed the James–Lange theory, a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions. The theory states that within human beings, as a response to experiences in the world, the autonomic nervous system creates physiological events such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of the mouth. Emotions, then, are feelings which come about as a result of these physiological changes, rather than being their cause.


The history of emotions has become an increasingly popular topic recently, with some scholars arguing that it is an essential category of analysis, not unlike class, race, or gender. Historians, like other social scientists, assume that emotions, feelings and their expressions are regulated in different ways by both different cultures and different historical times, and constructivist school of history claims even that some sentiments and meta-emotions, for example Schadenfreude, are learnt and not only regulated by culture. Historians of emotion trace and analyse the changing norms and rules of feeling, while examining emotional regimes, codes, and lexicons from social, cultural or political history perspectives. Others focus on the history of medicine, science or psychology. What somebody can and may feel (and show) in a given situation, towards certain people or things, depends on social norms and rules. It is thus historically variable and open to change. Sweden and Australia.

Furtherly, research in historical trauma suggests that some traumatic emotions can be passed on from parents to offspring to second and even third generation, presented as examples of transgenerational trauma.

List of emotions

AcediaAffectionAmbivalenceAngerAngstAnnoyanceAnticipationAnxietyApathyAweBoredomCalmnessCompassionConfusionContemptContentmentCourageCuriosityDepressionDesireDisappointmentDisgustDoubtEcstasyEmbarrassmentEmpathyEmptinessEnthusiasmEnvyEpiphanyEuphoriaFanaticismFearFrustrationGratificationGratitudeGriefGuiltHappinessHatredHomesicknessHopeHostilityHumiliationHysteriaInspirationInterestJealousyKindnessLimerenceLonelinessLoveLustMelancholiaMono no awareNostalgiaPanicPatiencePityPrideRageRegretRemorseRepentanceResentmentRighteous indignationSadnessSaudadeSchadenfreudeSehnsuchtSelf-pityShameShynessSufferingSurpriseSuspicionSympathyWeltschmerzWonderWorry

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Emotion" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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