chapter  19
7 Pages

Emotion regulation Two souls in one breast? nico H. FrijDa

The domain of emotional reactions is, however, replete with contingencies that do not allow such automatic handling of multiple emotions. There are various kinds. In one, the urges of the multiple emotions are incompatible: one wants to delight in drinking, and also to remain clear of mind and in good health. One wants both equally badly, which leads to emotional conflict. There is an impasse with no obvious route for escape. In another kind, a strong urge for action can find no cue for any useful action. A threat may be coming from anywhere: as when one is the target of aerial bombing, subjected to an earthquake or tsunami, or living under a dictatorial regime. There exist drastic automatic processes: transitions to altered consciousness. One gets into a state of disorientation, numbness, or depersonalization: feeling as if what happens does not really take place or happens to someone else (Hilgard, 1977). Such changes are common when one’s car skids, and during torture (Frijda, 2010). Other conflicts that have no automatic resolution are those between having to face, and escaping from, powerful negative emotions. They are exemplified by the conflict between seeking to keep one’s mouth shut during torture and betraying

one’s friends. Kuhl and Koole (2004) distinguished them as “self-maintenance” from simple self-control. Facing irresolvable motive state conflict has a further general issue: the emergence of reflective conscious awareness. Conscious awareness of conflict, according to Morsella’s Supramodular Interaction Theory (SIT; Morsella, 2005), is the mechanism for integrating information from different supramodular response systems, such as different high-level concerns. It leads to some form of reflective stepping back, and planning deliberate emotion control.