That is, when one feels an emotion one sees oneself in terms of the way one is experiencing or responding to some object5. According to this idea, emotion is seen as the conscious perception of the complex mapping processes from the unconscious space into the low-dimensional space of the conscious. How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. In cases where the model has an abnormally high precision, prediction error has little effect, and the representations given by the model become entrenched. The account, proposed by Roberts (1988, 2003), is that emotions are concern-based construals. 55, 594–611. As such, it would be a mistake to describe construal theory, as some do (e.g., Smith and Lane, 2015), as a cognitivist theory. Can affects be unconscious? In an independent study, Demartini et al. J. Strachey (London: Vintage). Freud remarked, “It is surely the essence of an emotion that we should be aware of it, i.e. Rather, the perception of bodily changes can itself represent a core relational theme, so that emotions can be evaluative without being conceptual3. It is this subtle distinction between different senses of consciousness that will help us address the Freudian paradox. Try the easy-to-remember FORM technique. Take Psychologist World's 5-minute memory test to measure your memory. Damasio, A. R., Damasio, H., and Tranel, D. (2013). Recall that, for Roberts, having an emotion is having a first-order construal, while feeling an emotion is having a second-order construal, that is, a construal of oneself as construing some object in a certain way. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa5501%262_12, Lane, R. D., Weihs, K. L., Herring, A., Hishaw, A., and Smith, R. (2015). (2010). doi: 10.1093/brain/awq010, PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar, Connolly, P. (2018). The consequences of such could to be bring about excessively harsh superegoic judgements about the self, leading to potentially overwhelming negative emotions. Sullivan, H. S. (1956). The mental concept is normally unconscious, so I call it an unconscious concept or an unconscious idea. Psychol. The role of cognition--and to some extent motivation--in emotion, the ways meaning is generated, unconscious appraising, and the implications of this way of thinking for life-span development are addressed. An emotion is not unique to any particular individual, so the mental concept that underlies it comes from the unconscious mind. My answer to the apparent paradox is twofold, with both solutions emanating from a particular philosophical account of emotion, namely, Roberts’ account of emotions as concern-based construals. (1977). The starting point of a typical emotional episode, on this account, is a “stimulus” that “triggers” an emotional reaction6. Pulver, S. E. (1971). (2015). Love’s Knowledge. There has been some discussion among psychoanalytic scholars as to how best to understand what Freud means by “proper representative” (e.g., Green, 2004; Herrera, 2010). Liemburg, E. J., Swart, M., Bruggeman, R., Kortekaas, R., Knegtering, H., Æurèiæ-Blake, B., et al. 9:2714. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02714. The intermediate level involves integrating these first-level processes into coherent patterns, ultimately “patterns of one’s entire bodily state across organs, muscles, and so forth” (p. 599). The hard problem of consciousness and the free energy principle. Such problems do not entail that feelings theories should be dismissed, but they do require that such theories should be sophisticated enough to address these issues. The problem is this: How, if an agent is experiencing the bodily changes involved in the emotion, can the repression of the second-order construal be sustained? Psychol. 55, 124–134. The philosopher Prinz (2004) has offered a compelling update to the James-Lange theory of emotions, one that is sophisticated enough to address the problems brought against simple feeling theories. For example, they model the psychopathic trait lacks remorse by having the prior beliefs lower the precision of a self-schema relating to feelings of shame or worthlessness. In relation to the narrow interpretation of Roberts’ account, which focuses on embodied construal as a way of experiencing some object, this distinction can be stated as that between affective consciousness (feeling in the sense of affective feeling) and the consciousness of the emotion (feeling in the sense of feeling as a construed condition). It is worthwhile saying a little more about the nature of the consciousness of an emotion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A Bayesian account of ‘hysteria’. Such a superordinate level would correspond to a part of the Freudian ego, as it is the ego which, according to Freud, controls access to consciousness (Freud, 1926/1957, p. 95). The lowered precision at this level results in the failure of the emotion to attain consciousness. Transl. Psychosom. As we will see in section Free-Energy and the Process of Repression, this situational dimension can be important in determining why, in some cases, the emotion is repressed. They do, however, raise conceptual problems. In the cases we are considering, however, such situations have to do with memories that have been repressed, hence from the free-energy perspective have priors with low precision. A second and more important answer to the question of how the unconsciousness of an emotion can be sustained in light of the conscious affective feelings it generates is that this is, in many cases, precisely the problem that leads to pathology. Furthermore, the perceived “relevance” (or “irrelevance”) of stimuli is a judgement, which cannot preclude both awareness and evaluation of target material (though this need not be conscious itself). (2004). Interpret Your Dreams Learn to interpret the hidden meanings behind the themes of your dreams and nightmares. In essence the conflict is now “predicted” and “resolved” through one stroke, through the precision weightings towards one pole of the conflict now avoiding the uncertainty of the conflict state (p. 12). Self-Insight. Moreover, as we have discussed, it is probable that the absence of the consciousness of emotion often leads to psychopathology, such as hysterical symptoms. Struggle to keep conversations alive? In other words, the feelings accompanying inner bodily changes, through which the object that triggered this reaction is now being experienced, represent an evaluation of that object. 4 Subjects are characterized as alexithymics when they systematically show difficulty in identifying or describing their own emotions. It suggests that, just as the trait inability to be conscious of emotions can lead to hysterical symptoms in alexithymics, so too it might be that the repression-induced inability to be conscious of certain emotions can lead to hysterical symptoms in non-alexithymics20. The consciousness of emotion is presumably an adaptive state, providing for a considerably more flexible response to one’s emotion than one would have if the emotion were unconscious. To feel contrite is to construe2 myself as [construing1] myself as being or having done something contrary to some moral or quasi-moral standard that I am strongly concerned to meet. Henceforth I will refer to the first possibility, in which a construal and hence an emotion are constituted by the way an agent experiences an object, as a narrow account of construal and emotion, and the second possibility, in which a construal and hence an emotion are constituted by an organism’s response to an object, as a broad account of construal and emotion10. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. Measure your stress levels with this 5-minute stress test. How to Beat Stress and Succeed in Exams If you're one of the many people who gets stressed out when it comes to taking exams then we have a few tips for you that will help you to overcome this and really concentrating on achieving good grades. J. Neurol. Psychol. 97, 183–209. conscious and unconscious aspects of emotions and considers their implications for social behavior. Given this, a broader aim of this paper is to address the Freudian paradox about unconscious emotion in a way that also sheds additional light on psychopathology. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2013-307203, Depue, B. E., Curran, T., and Banich, M. T. (2007). On this account, consciousness is not essential to emotion. Such quantitative expressions have fallen into relative disuse in psychoanalysis (Akhtar, 2013, p. 14), partly because of the difficulty in applying them, and partly because they have been subject to criticisms on the grounds of not having any obvious neurobiological underpinning (McCarley and Hobson, 1977). Biobehav. For example, Lacewing (2007, p. 22) brings up alexithymia as “cases in which the subject reports no particular feelings at the time of the emotional episode,” stating that: They generally disavow feeling emotions, and so they are also known as “alexithymics” (from the Greek for “having no words for emotion”). It is this sense of feeling that, according to Roberts, is most relevant to the locution “feeling an emotion.” Thus, feeling our emotion involves a construal of our construal. Boag (2012) argues against such an account as follows (p. 195): A single mind cannot be both exclusively aware of the target and also filtering incoming stimuli. View all To this end, and taking into account the point made above that construal need not be conceptual, I define construal as a way in which an intentional agent experiences or responds to some object, X, where this way of experiencing or responding can be appropriately described by phrases of the form “as Y” or “in terms of Y.”. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.05.025. Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion. It is therefore tempting to see these feelings (plus related memories, fantasies, beliefs, and so on) as thereby constituting the “colouring” with which some object (e.g., a person) is experienced. The free-energy framework, moreover, facilitates an account of repression that avoids the homunculus objection and coheres with recent work on hysteria. G. E. M. Anscombe. This ambivalence is reflected in an underdeveloped understanding of unconscious emotion in psychoanalysis today (Akhtar, 2013). Damasio, A. R. (1999). In order to motivate the account of emotion I will be presenting in this paper, I will first briefly offer some historical context. J. Strachey (London: Vintage). Unconscious emotions have been thought to underpin the phenomenon of alexithymia. Prosser, A., Friston, K. J., Bakker, N., and Parr, T. (2018). Further support for the correspondence between second-order construal and the highest level of processing in the LEA model comes from Stevens (2016), who describes several lines of evidence suggesting that the consciousness of emotion is closely associated with rACC activity. Can emotions be unconscious? To learn how people react to upsetting situations and respond to others around them, the researchers examined people’s anger toward politically charged events in a series of laboratory studies with 107 participants. 177–178). Our focus will be on typical emotional episodes related to the basic emotions identified by Jaak Panksepp. As we have seen, the version of construal theory I have presented does not assume the conceptualisation hypothesis, since the elements of a construal need not involve concepts. Int. The first category – which we will call “unconsciously generated emotion” – involves cases where emotional responses are themselves consciously experienced/recognized, but where those emotions are generated in response to unconscious processes … Affect. This leads to a relative decoupling of automatic conscious thoughts from such feelings, resulting in thoughts and behaviour that reflect the trait of lacking remorse. Here is how Roberts (2003, p. 320) explains this idea: Let us use subscripts to distinguish the two construals, a subscript 1 for the emotion and a subscript 2 for the feeling, and place brackets around the word “construal” to indicate that the ordinary subject does not experience his emotion in terms of the concept of a construal. I, ed. [²]. Neurosci. Emotions typically involve conscious experiences, but such experiences are not strictly necessary for an emotion to be instantiated, in part because some emotion terms refer to dispositions and in part because most theorists consider feelings conceptually distinct from non-dispositional emotions. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.08.003, Solms, M. (2013). According to Prinz’s theory, the perception of the bodily changes brought on by the sight of the snake represents the core relational theme of danger, and it is this perception which constitutes the emotion of fear. One theory prominent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was the feeling theory, asserting that emotions are conscious feelings. XXII, ed. As mentioned, the idea of unconscious emotion has been seen to present something of a paradox. doi: 10.1080/15294145.2018.1544851, Michael, M. T. (2019a). Conscious and unconscious emotions define the direction and intensity of the mental activity of the individual, determining the degree and direction of sensitivity, which is reflected in the external manifestations of behavior, due to the specifics of perception and reflection of the emotional impacts. Once more, the free-energy perspective could be of assistance in addressing this question. Freud, S. (1900/1957). A new study claims that appreciation of black humor is a sign of intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. By adopting this terminology, I am not thereby implying that, in the absence of a second-order construal, an emotion cannot, in some sense, be conscious. Conscious. Second, a construal of how one is construing things is a construal of one’s self, thus potentially bringing such a construal into discord with one’s ego ideal. and the emotion regulation difficulties characteristic of alexithymia have been hypothesized to play a mediating role in these (ibid.). Om sindsbevægelser: et psyko-fysiologisk Studie. “Introduction,” in On Freud’s “The Unconscious”, eds S. Akhtar and M. K. O’Neil (London: Karnac Books), 1–19. Thus, we may update our understanding of the process of repression as follows. However, if in the past the agent has experienced overwhelming negative affect as a result (in part) of becoming conscious of the emotion in question, they develop, as a learned response, an alteration in the connections between the upper and the second level such that the precision of the second level is lowered in response to that emotion. “The interpretation of dreams (second part),” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. Such concerns enter into the construal as part of the Y-term: when I am angry with someone, I am not just seeing them in terms of having culpably offended against me, but also in terms of my concern not to be so offended against. An example of such a response might be an inhibitory response of the prefrontal cortex towards the limbic system, which now occurs without necessarily reexperiencing the initial conflict state, but is rather the result of a downward prediction encoded at a cortical level. Indeed, Freud himself acknowledged that talk of unconscious emotions is widespread in psychoanalysis: But in psycho-analytic practice we are accustomed to speak of unconscious love, hate, anger, etc., and find it impossible to avoid even the strange conjunction, “unconscious consciousness of guilt,” or a paradoxical “unconscious anxiety” (Freud, 1915/1957, p. 177). (1982). (1998). The lowest level of the hierarchy pertains to local bodily states, that is, for example, changes in visceral states, changes in hormonal levels, and so on (Prinz, 2004, p. 213). On the one hand, he thought that it is “of the essence of an emotion that we should be aware of it, i.e., that it should become known to consciousness” (Freud, 1915/1957, p. 177). Following Wittgenstein, Roberts takes a “family resemblance” approach to concepts, thus he does not hold that “construal” (or “emotion” for that matter) can be captured by a set of necessary or sufficient conditions. Cheolhak 136, 83–108. Presenting state-of-the-art work on the conscious and unconscious processes involved in emotion, this integrative, academic volume brings together leading psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers. Paralleling the usage of these descriptors in the domain of the cognitive unconscious, explicit emotion refers to the person's conscious awareness of an emotion, feeling, or mood state; implicit emotion, by contrast, refers to changes in experience, thought, or action that are attributable to one's emotional state, independent of his or her conscious awareness of that state. Responding to an object in this way is as much an embodied construal as experiencing the snake in terms of the affective feelings generated: one is responding to an object, X (e.g., the snake), in a certain way, where that way can be appropriately described using an “as Y” phrase (“as threatening”), with Y being an evaluation of X9. J. Strachey (London: Vintage). Brain 133, 1265–1283. At this point, I will present one attractive possibility for interpreting Roberts’ account of emotion, though later I will challenge this interpretation. These emotions can be brought to the surface of the conscious state through extended psychotherapy. This stimulus may be (the perception of) an external event or may be an internal event, such as a thought or memory. J. Strachey (London: Vintage). There is an important additional component to the model that has to do with the relation between the lowest level, pertaining to the experience of affect, and the upper level. Prinz does not regard his theory as a construal theory, as he thinks that such theories assume the “conceptualisation” and “disembodiment” hypotheses. So the feeling of an emotion is a (conscious) second-order construal, where what is construed is oneself in terms of a first-order construal. Privacy & Cookies Experiencing an object in terms of such feelings is, as we have already noted, an embodied construal: as a consequence (largely) of bodily changes, one is experiencing the object, X, in a certain way, where that way can be appropriately described using an “as Y” phrase with Y being an evaluation of X. Akhtar, S. (2013). It is in order to prevent such emotions that the higher-level policy to reduce lower-level precisions is triggered. Panksepp (1998) uses the term “emotional command system” to designate brain systems that, upon certain input, “generate instinctual behaviour output patterns” (p. 28) that can be associated with common emotions (or related states). In order to motivate this I turn to Connolly’s (2018) suggestion about how we can understand Freud’s “signal” theory of the triggering of repression from a free-energy perspective. The above ideas readily lend themselves to the following characterisation of emotional repression15. doi: 10.1080/15294145.2013.10773711, Solms, M. (2019). In order to provide a holistic theoretical overview focusing on unconscious emotions, a review of contemporary theories, models, and measures of emotion is provided. Contact Us It also has its motivational character, in that, in being a concern-based construal, it can predispose the agent towards certain actions (inherent in the behavioural preparedness triggered by the stimulus). Motivated by the desire to deal with the problems brought against feeling theories, many philosophers moved in a different direction, developing judgement theories of emotion. This is that the “proper representative” of the emotion is the second-order construal that constitutes the consciousness of an emotion. How ingratiation techniques are used to persuade people. The theory is Bayesian because the processes by which predictions are generated correspond to those of Bayesian inference, in which the probability of a hypothesis is updated in light of evidence according to a formula involving the probability of the hypothesis prior to the given evidence – the “prior” – and the probability of the evidence given this hypothesis. This leaves in its wake unexplained affect, but that is the price to pay for preventing the occurrence of the overwhelming affect which would have swamped the agent had the consciousness of emotion been allowed to develop. The philosophy of emotion is important insofar as emotion is a concept that derives from commonsense psychological discourse, that is, the everyday discourse by which we make sense of our own and other people’s behaviour in terms of mental states such as belief, desire, and emotion. If the mental concept changes, the emotion does not change ; instead, it fades away and a different emotion arises, one that fits the current mental concept. Simultaneously, this is directly related to some object, so that it is a way of experiencing or responding to that object. Where Roberts’ account becomes most useful for our purpose of understanding unconscious emotion is in relation to the question of how we feel emotions. The advantage that Roberts’ account has over judgement theories of emotion is that there are many cases in which one may have an emotion despite also having a judgement contrary to the evaluation associated with that emotion. J. Psychiatry 134, 1211–1221. II, ed. Memory Like A Goldfish? Psychoanalysis and empirical research: the example of alexithymia. The highest level involves abstracting from particular patterns by categorising a range of such patterns under the same representation, that is, as “having the same emotional meaning” (ibid.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1002/j.2167-4086.2004.tb00154.x, Gulpek, D., Kelemence Kaplan, F., Kesebir, S., and Bora, O. Learn to interpret the hidden meanings behind the themes of your dreams and nightmares. Discover which Jungian Archetype your personality matches with this archetype test. On Freud’s theory, such memories are subject to repression on account not just of the emotion immediately generated by the memory, but also due to deeper negative emotions associated with it, ones that potentially reach down into highly aversive childhood experiences or infantile sexual fantasies. We can conclude that emotions can be understood as semantic interpretations that put together similar sources and according to the level of the process and of the integration being. Yet, psychologists challenge even that certainty and point out that one’s emotional life can be a mystery, even to oneself. (2020). J. Strachey (London: Vintage). doi: 10.1159/000287617. Clinical Studies in Psychiatry. Roberts, R. C. (1988). Fear, for instance, is the judgement that some object poses a danger to oneself. There is a distinction, for Freud, between the suppression of affect and the repression of ideas, which is that “unconscious ideas continue to exist after repression as actual structures in the system Ucs., whereas all that corresponds in that system to unconscious affects is a potential beginning which is prevented from developing” (Freud, 1915/1957, p. 178). While such theories were popular for a while, they too encounter problems. Nevertheless, as we proceed, it is worth having both accounts in mind, as the first account, even if incorrect, will help as understand why many, like Freud, have seen the idea of unconscious emotion as paradoxical. To say a little more about this, consider an agent who has repressed the consciousness of her emotion. It seems to me, therefore, that the paradox of unconscious emotion, which Freud himself touched on, may arise as a result of adopting a narrower conception of emotion than is required. Freud, S. (1919/1957). A Bayesian account of psychopathy: a model of lacks remorse and self-aggrandizing. First, it shows how a construal account captures the essential characteristics of emotion. doi: 10.1159/000287064. The embodied construal described above is part of a causal chain that explains subsequent behaviour, and, when supplemented with an understanding of the predisposing tendencies of different kinds of stimuli, can be explained by preceding events. There are other versions of construal theory, but they have many of the same features as this one (see Lacewing, 2004, for a review). It is the basis of equanimity, the ability to be unaffected by any kind of stress. It alerts us to problems but doesn't bother us with processes that don't require conscious attention. 20, 81–104. The LEA model may be useful in anchoring some of the ideas presented in the previous section. Hypnosis Scripts Psychological defence against emotion, in other words, may bring about effects that fluctuate between numerous levels. There are many possible answers, but I will focus on two that bear on important features of the consciousness of emotion. Hence emotion can be unconscious when taken in the broader sense, though is necessarily conscious when taken in the narrower sense. doi: 10.1080/00207578.2018.1489705. Polyphasic sleep patterns, daytime naps and their impact on performance. But there is another possible interpretation – which even if not exegetically correct, may be more theoretically appropriate – in line with my account. XI, ed. Also, in studies of different subtypes of depression, “a pattern emerges in which those that have awareness of their feelings show hyper rACC activation and those that are unaware of their feelings show hypo rACC activity” (p. 59). As long as such a “belief” offers a plausible explanation, it may, due to the repressive need to keep attention away from the correct explanation, be favoured by Bayesian processes to the point where it becomes entrenched – that is, it is afforded a degree of precision the makes it immune to revision in the light of contrary sensory evidence. The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The neurobiological origins of psychoanalytic dream theory. A classic example of a feeling theory is the James-Lange theory (James, 1884; Lange, 1885), which posits that emotions are the perceptions of physiological changes in the body. These considerations cohere with the idea that the consciousness of an emotion is distinct from both having the emotion and from the consciousness of affect that may be partly constitutive of the emotion (at least, on a narrow account of emotion). At each level of the hierarchy of such a model, prediction units issue in predictions about the input from the level immediately beneath it, with the lowest level issuing predictions about the sensory input. Focusing on such situational appraisal also brings to the fore the importance of context to the consciousness of emotion. But, Prinz argues, this does not mean that we should give up on the idea that emotions are essentially evaluative. As stated, our focus will be on the second level, since it is this which most relates to hysteria, and is the key to understanding Freud’s seemingly paradoxical comments on unconscious emotion. Michael, M. T. (2018a). Am. 61, 99–133. McDougall, J. Emotion, though addressed by psychoanalysis and neuroscience, is not a concept that derives from these disciplines, but rather from our everyday psychological discourse, and philosophers have spent the last few decades analysing just such concepts. When you couple unconscious emotions with the researched … It posits that emotional consciousness is based on three levels of processing. The most pertinent concerns the intuition, shared by Freud, that consciousness is essential to emotion, which makes the idea of unconscious emotion seem paradoxical. This relates to Freud’s structural model of the mind, in which repression is seen to result from a conflict between superego and id. Int. I offer this argument not as a means of endorsing Prinz’s theory, but to illustrate how a construal theory, broadly conceived, can accommodate sophisticated feeling theories, that is, ones that take into account the evaluative aspect of emotions. The first is that, though the correct second-order construal of the emotion is repressed, another, incorrect, construal can be constructed that offers an explanation of sorts for the given experiences. Freud, despite his aforementioned comments, did speak about the repression of emotions, except that what he actually spoke about in this context was (chiefly) the suppression of affect. The second, the middle level, corresponds to the second-order construal that constitutes the consciousness of the emotion. Accordingly, Demartini et al. 100, 32–51. In the other, the broad version, an emotion is constituted by the organism’s response to an object, where this response can be described as an evaluation of that object. The sensory stimuli which would previously have generated the conflict state of uncertainty now generates the defence state that privileges one response over another. Nordic J. Psychiatry 68, 300–305. Michael, M. T. (2019b). 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