How often have you been in the situation where you feel something but it doesn’t fall under the typical emotional categories like ‘happy,’ ‘sad,’ ‘angry,’ et cetera? Probably a fair amount, right? Well, it turns out there are actually proper psychological states for them. Here are 10 of what we reckon are the more common ones, and their definitions. Now you can impress your office mates by telling them precisely how you’re feeling!
This is often used as a psychological way to describe depression. Dysphoria is a general state of sadness that can include restlessness, lack of energy, anxiety, and vague irritation. Think of it like the opposite of euphoria. It’s related to sadness but not sadness – it’s often brought on by the coming down from a stimulant such as coffee. It can also be felt in response to a distressing situation, extreme boredom or depression.
Psychology professor W. Gerrod Parrott broke down human emotions into subcategories, which have further sub-sub-categories within them. One subset of ‘joy’, ‘enthrallment’ is different to outright joy or happiness. It’s more of a state of intense rapture, such as the feeling you get when witnessing something spectacular. The thing captures all of your attention and elevates your mood significantly. Think of the feeling you get when watching a particularly good movie, or a rocket launch.
Psychiatric theorist Christopher Bollas described normopathy as the idea of being so focused on blending in and conforming to social norms – being “normal” – that it becomes a sort of mania. A person who is normotic is often unhealthily fixated on doing nothing out of the ordinary, so much so that they actually develop a complete lack of a personality. Extreme cases of this result in outbreaks where the person does something very dangerous or violent. However, many people experience normopathy in mild cases, such as hiding behaviours they believe other people would condemn or trying to fit into a new social situation.
Enthallment is more of a state of intense rapture, such as the feeling you get when witnessing something spectacular.
French philosopher Julia Kristeva quite literally wrote the book on what it is to experience abjection. She suggested that every human goes through a period of abjection when they’re born, when we realise our bodies are separate from our parent’s bodies. This is a feeling of extreme horror we carry with us our whole lives. It’s a feeling we get when we experience events that make us question our sense of self and give us an idea of how fragile we are. The classic example is seeing a corpse, or bad open wounds. These all remind us that there is very little separating being alive from dead. When you understand the weight of that sentence, or visually see it in reality, your nausea is abjection.
If you’ve ever learnt about Sigmund Freud, you would have learnt about sublimation. Basically, Freud believed that human emotions were like a steam engine, and sexual desire was the steam. If you block the steam coming out one valve, the built up pressure would force it out of another. Sublimation is the process of redirecting your desires from having sex to doing something socially productive. If you’ve ever vented frustrations by building something or gotten a strangely intense pleasure from creating something, you’re sublimating. However, other psychiatrists have refined the idea of sublimation. Jacques Lacan, for example, said that sublimation doesn’t have to be converting sexual desire into a separate activity such as building something. It could also be transferring that desire from one object (person) to another.