MonthJanuary 2016

The Constant Fear of Scarcity, Aggression As Its Child

The final primary emotion pair of opposites are Aggression and Alarm.

Merriam-Webster defines Aggression as,

: a forceful action or procedure (as an unprovoked attack) especially when intended to dominate or master

: the practice of making attacks or encroachments; especially : unprovoked violation by one country of the territorial integrity of another

: hostile, injurious, or destructive behavior or outlook especially when caused by frustration

In Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, Aggression is blend of the basic emotions, Anger and Anticipation.

Aggression has similar physical markers to Anger. These include rapid heartbeat and breathing, dry mouth, sweating, muscle tension and shaking. At the same there are a mix of emotional feelings, including frustration, hostility, anxiety, impatience and restlessness. There is the Anticipation of physical and verbal violence.

Aggression in animals developed to confer advantages. These advantages have to do with protecting territory, mates, offspring or food.

Aggression in humans is more complex, and besides the biological drivers, is also driven by social and cultural factors and morals. For example, some societies are more comfortable with physical punishment of children. In some cultures, honor killings are acceptable. Morals define acceptable limits and aggression can result when experiencing behavior that is outside those limits.

The artist for the Caricature series of sketches depicted Aggression through an image of a person holding a baseball bat. The person is red in the face with flames of anger coming out their head. The teeth are bared in grimace. The baseball bat in the person’s hand points to the imminent violence.

The emotion Aggression in the Caricature series of sketches

The emotion Aggression in the Caricature series of sketches

The artist for Watercolors shows Aggression through a primal picture of a dog baring its teeth, with lips drawn back in a snarl. You can almost hear the growl emanating from the dog’s throat. The dog is ready to unleash aggression and snap at the outstretched hand.

The emotion Aggression in the Caricature series of sketches

The emotion Aggression in the Watercolor series of sketches

Familiarity Only Breeds Contempt

Merriam-Webster defines Contempt as:

: a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval

: a lack of respect for or fear of something that is usually respected or feared

Contempt is a primary emotion that is the opposite paired emotion to Submission. Since it is a primary emotion, it is comprised of the two basic emotions, Disgust and Anger.

A person feels Contempt towards other people and their behavior, when through comparison, neither the people nor their behavior has met a standard considered important by that person. Judgment is the important aspect of Contempt, and the other people are considered undeserving of respect and less in some way – lower in stature or status, less powerful, less moral or ethical, etc. This disapproval creates a distance or a sense of withdrawal between the person expressing Contempt and other people.

Contempt is best demonstrated through tightened facial expressions, with lips raised on one side of the face. In addition, the person may raise their chin and look down their nose at the other, while rolling their eyes and using a sarcastic tone of voice.

Professor John Gottman has shown through his studies of marital relationships, that of the four signs of distress – defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt – Contempt is the most damaging and destructive, because of the belittling nature of the associated physical and emotional feelings.

The artist for the Caricature series shows Contempt in the sketch through two faces back-to- back, colored red in anger, expressing their Contempt for the other. Their lips are tightened and pulled up on one side in the classic representation of Contempt.

The emotion Contempt in the Caricature series of sketches

The emotion Contempt in the Caricature series of sketches

The artist for Watercolors shows Contempt in the sketch through a human face that shows the lips pulled up only on one side. Even though the rest of the face, including the eyes, are not displayed, yet the expression of contempt and disapproval is clearly visible.

The emotion Contempt in the Watercolor series of sketches

The emotion Contempt in the Watercolor series of sketches

Words That Scream For Your Submission

The next pair of paired and opposite primary emotions are Submission and Contempt, and we’ll begin with Submission.

Merriam-Webster defines Submission as,

: the state of being obedient : the act of accepting the authority or control of someone else

As a primary emotion, Submission is the blend of two basic emotions, Trust and Fear.

In secular terms, Submission involves deference to the authority of someone else – an employee to their boss, a student to a teacher, a citizen to their laws, children to their parents. Submission involves conscious choice in willingly accepting the superiority of another. There is trust in the knowledge and wisdom of the authority, along with fear and respect of their superiority.

In religion, Submission involves recognition of a higher authority – God – and obedience to that rules and laws of that authority. For example, Islam literally means Submission to the will of God. In Christianity, Submission is used in reference to God and God’s law, and the call to be humble to one another.

Submission is related but different from obedience, humiliation or shame. Submission involves an affirmative choice in the willing and conscious yielding to someone else, while obedience suggests unquestioning compliance without a choice. Humiliation is when social status is decreased. Finally, shame results from the comparison of the self’s actions with the self’s standards.

The artist for Caricatures used the physical images and gestures of Submission. The head is lowered and bowed, the eyes averted, the body compact and tight, while the lips are pressed together. The sketch conveys deference and acceptance.


The emotion Submission in the Caricature series of sketches.

The artist for Watercolors used the meaning of Submission to show a puppet in the hands of the master. The puppet has given up control, and the master is directing the puppet through the motion of the strings. The puppet is faceless to demonstrate the full acceptance of the authority and control of the master.


The emotion Submission in the Watercolor series of sketches.

Disappointment Haunted All My Dreams defines Disappointment as,

: the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations

Disappointment is a primary emotion paired as the opposite emotion to Optimism. Optimism is our expectation of the best possible outcome from events, while Disappointment is the feeling when we do not receive the expected rewards of an anticipated future.

As a primary emotion, Disappointment is the combination of Surprise and Sadness basic emotions. The emotion of Sadness associated with Disappointment is a way for us to correct our assumptions of other events in future. By remembering our mistaken assumptions we are less likely to be surprised in the future.

Research suggests that the quickness of our recovery from Disappointment may have both a genetic and environmental (learned) basis, just like the set point for Optimism. Some people may recover quicker from Disappointment, while others may become disheartened or frustrated because they are unable to incorporate the changing information they have received.

Disappointment and Regret are related but different feelings. Disappointment has to do with the anticipation of a positive outcome and the eventual failure, resulting in sadness. Regret has to do with our poor choices in actions and behavior that led to the outcome, and wishing that we could do things differently again.

We use Disappointment and Hurt when we refer to other people and their behavior. We feel disappointed (surprised and sad) when someone does not behave as we expect, e.g, a parent to their child, “I am disappointed in your behavior”. But we feel hurt when we believe the other person’s behavior is unfair or unjust to us, i.e., when they have done us harm.

The artist for Caricatures demonstrates Disappointment through a sketch of a person with a torn kite. Perhaps this person was looking forward to seeing their kite soar in the sky. But now it is torn and cannot fly, and the person is downcast and sad that the expected future of fun did not materialize.

The emotion Disappointment in the Caricature series of sketches

The emotion Disappointment in the Caricature series of sketches

The artist for Watercolors uses sports to illustrate Disappointment. While playing soccer, the forward has only to beat the opposing goalkeeper, but the shot is wide. Each of us can identify with the feeling of Disappointment, while watching the ball go wide of the goal. The anticipated future of the ball in the net, the score and celebration, the adulation of the crowd – all of these will not take place now.

The emotion Disappointment in the Watercolor series of sketches

The emotion Disappointment in the Watercolor series of sketches

Optimism’s My Best Defense

Merriam-Webster defines Optimism as,

: a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future

: a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen

Optimism and Disappointment are the next pair of primary opposite emotions, created by combining basic emotions. Optimism can be considered as the combination of Anticipation and Happy basic emotions.

Optimism is the feeling of expectation of the best (from the Latin optimum) possible outcome from events, that good things will happen independent of one’s ability. Each of us has a set point of Optimism that is inherited, as well as being influenced by environmental factors, such as our family environments. This set point or inclination, helps us feel varied levels of Optimism in the face of different life events.

Optimism and Hope are related but different. The definitions of hope have several themes – uncertainty of a specific outcome, multiple ways to get to that outcome and the motivation to start and keep going. Studies have shown that we feel Hope when we consider a specific outcome (e.g., recovery from a temporary illness), while we feel Optimism when it is a general outcome (e.g., today will be a good day).

The artist for Caricatures demonstrated Optimism with the idea of the best possible outcome from an event – the planting of a seed. There are so many things that can go wrong and not allow the seed to grow and flourish – lack of water and nutrition, being eaten by an animal, pests, etc. Optimism says, regardless, the seed will grow into a plant, and the plant into a tree.


The emotion Optimism in the Caricature series of sketches

The artist for Watercolors choose a different approach. The sketch shows a rich, gorgeous, multi-colored world when viewed through the glasses of Optimism, while the rest of the world is in black and white. The feeling of Optimism gives the superpower of the finest, most marvelous view of the world.

The emotion Optimism in the Watercolor series of sketches

The emotion Optimism in the Watercolor series of sketches

This Mountain of Remorse

Merriam-Webster defines Remorse as:

: a feeling of being sorry for doing something bad or wrong in the past : a feeling of guilt

Remorse is paired as an opposite emotion with Love and is a combination of Sadness and Disgust emotions.

Remorse involves our past words or actions, done with calculation or planning, for hurting someone else. We feel Remorse, when we feel sorry in the present for the consequences of those calculated words or actions.

Remorse and regret are similar yet different. They are similar in that they involve feeling sorry. But Remorse involves feeling sorry for hurting someone else, while regret is feeling sorry for hurting ourselves. We feel regret when our actions or words have “damaged our careers, tarnished our reputations, limited our options”.

Remorse is also different from guilt. Guilt involves accepting that one has done something wrong. This acceptance is hurtful to our self-image and we feel “bad”. Our concern about the consequences to ourselves turns guilt into regret. These three terms – guilt, regret and remorse, are closely related so we can feel guilt without feeling regret or remorse, and regret without feeling remorse.

So what to do when you are feeling Remorse? The first step is to stop, think, and take responsibility for your actions, words and motivations. Perhaps you could have taken a different course of action. From the experience, you learn your lesson and forgive yourself while pledging to not repeat your actions again. Finally, you ask for forgiveness by apologizing to the person you have harmed. A proper apology involves an expression of sorrow, an admission of responsibility, the making of amends and a promise that it will not happen again.

The artist for the Caricatures series shows Remorse as a dark cloud of sorrow. The expression on the face has the lips turned down in pain, while the hand is supporting the head that is carrying the weight of the accompanying thought.


The emotion Remorse in the Caricature series of sketches

The artist for the Watercolors series shows a human being feeling Remorse with their face buried in both hands. The person feels the pain and sorrow of recollection, recognizes their mistakes and finds it hard to face anyone else.

The emotion Remorse in the Watercolor series of sketches

The emotion Remorse in the Watercolor series of sketches

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