Emotions –Their Impact on Personality

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D. Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Mrs Sudha Rani Maheshwari, M.Sc (Zoology), B.Ed. Former Principal. A.K.P.I.College, Roorkee, India

Every act of cognition has a response within the mind. At the same time. knowledge is inseparably connected with an inner emotional reaction; we cannot separate knowledge from its emotional content. It is the purpose of this discussion to present the factors inherent in the human mind which condition man’s reaction to his surroundings, and we shall consider how  these factors  become constructive elements in a person  adjustment to his environment and can contribute to his happiness.

In addition to cognition we have primitive instinctive  urges or impulses. .Man not only has emotional experiences resulting  from external sensations but he also has primitive urges independent of any sensation or perception.Emotions generally have their origin in sensations or perceptions.

First, let us understand all the emotional reactions of the human mind. Our interest in the understanding of emotions is not theoretical, as it is of vital importance in human life and human conduct. A man’s conduct cannot be understood unless we comprehend the inner springs of his actions. These inner springs are what the great psychologists call the instinctive urges or primitive impulses,  are the driving forces of mantals life and activity.

The interest in the study of emotions is of practical value. Moreover  a man’s normal life cannot be well established unless he has proper understanding and proper use of his various emotions.

Let us’ review briefly the five primitive urges or emotions present in all human beings.  It only seem that we are arbitrarily classifying the emotions. It is recognized, however, that they are interrelated ,within themselves and with other emotions; yet for the sake of concrete understanding of our emotional life ,we are mentioning five specific urges:

(1 ) Self-preservation urge-

We observe that there is an inherent impulse in people known as self-preservation. It is, undoubtedly, has  primary importance yet it produces many secondary emotions or what we may call prospective and retrospective emotions, namely: apprehension, anxiety, fear, and such other responses. Every animal has an abundance of this emotion of self-preservation. Even the child shows this instinct before it begins to know anything about itself or its environment.

(2) Self-expression urge

There is the urge of self-expression to be considered. we not only struggle to live and prolong our lives,but we also want to express ourselves. If we do not have proper avenues of self-expression, we become miserable. We also find that if this particular urge is extremely accentuated it creates considerable disturbance in our lives. Self-expression is associated with a number of other urges, such as aggression and submission.

(3) The sex urge

The sex impulse becomes a strong force  The emotIons are difficult clearified by various outstanding tinkers  in motivating different activities in all beings we not only want to express ourselves but we ,want to perpetuate our existence in the form of our children and reproduce the race so that it may continue. There is a pleasure element in the very  expression of this impulse. This urge is associated with love, sympathy, affection, envy, jealousy, and many other secondary prospective as well as retrospective emotions.

(4) Gregarious urge

As a result of the gregarious urge or desire for companionship, human beings find it difficult to live alone; they want company. When they cannot express themselves or their emotions of love, affection, or sympathy, they feel suffocated. Many persons feel extremely alone when they have no outlet for their emotions. Some thinkers are of the opinion that man seeks company for self-preservation so that he can fight the battle for life and have different types of pleasure with his fellow beings. According to them, this urge is a phase of self-preservation. We do not agree with such interpretations. When ‘We deeply study human beings, we find that the gregarious instinct is an independent urge. The accompanying  secondary emotions are love, envy, jealousy, and other such  responses.

(5) Knowledge urge

With the impulse of knowledge, man wants to know not only himself and all the desires within him but  also about his environment, other people, and nature. It is not that we acquired this urge as we began to develop our civilization, but it is an inherent quality of mind. This urge of knowledge also has secondary emotions. The element of knowledge is present in various forms not only in man, civilized and uncivilized, but also in animals.

All these five primitive urges are component urges and they do not always ,work independently and separately. They are often linked with other emotions. Take, for instance, a primitive urge of self-preservation ,which is associated with fear and anxiety. We do not know how many persons have a peculiar complex of fear of ghosts. It sounds amusing, but let us give an example. We know that this so-called ridiculous emotion of fear of ghosts will create many other different emotions. Most people have heard about ghosts and have certain notions about them. When one goes to an empty dark house, particularly after any recent misfortune of death, one feels rather uncomfortable and nervous. If a few squeaks are heard when the door is opened, the person at once jumps to the conclusion that someone is walking around inside, and the first impulse is to run away from the place. We know  of occasions when people actually tried to run away .On inquiry it was found that the floors were cracking owing to their construction and the exposure caused by heat. When the people realized that it ,was not a ghost but only the heat that was making the cracking sounds, the result was laughter, or the emotion of amusement, when they understood how foolish they had been to think that there was a ghost in that particular house.

We have fear, then curiosity, and finally amusement successively occurring in many of our experiences. It is .difficult to separate these primitive urges from the secondary  emotions; they are, as it ,were, linked together. All the primitive urges are associated with other emotions such as fear, amusement, laughter, anxiety, apprehension, and remorse. Some times, we are likely to become apprehensive of the presence of these primary and secondary emotions and urges within us. Being worried, we create certain disorders in our minds; our behavior is changed, and our conduct becomes remorseful. We ask ourselves why we had these apprehensions, worries, and anxieties.. We know that because of them we often wreck our nervous systems. Then we become remorseful and regret that we have indulged ourselves in such expressions of emotion which have ruined our health. If wecontrol ourselves, we are amused that we were so foolish as to have ruined ourselves; we should have known better. In this way the emotions act and react, creating many byprodutucts in the form of functional ailments and disturbances, when these primitive emotions lose their proper balance  would create many strong secondary emotions, they cause conflicts in our lives.

We have higher ideas and evaluate ourselves as to what ,we should or should not do. When we become a little emotional, ,we think that it is not right to be so. Let us take jealousy, for instance. W e are extremely fond of a person.Then someone else comes to like him, and we become jealous. It seen that people have formed particular notions that an individual can like or love only one person. This creates a natural conflict in us. Suspicion, and other such secondary emotions, also create extreme forms of mental and nervous disorders and change our behavior.

Suppose we see or hear many nice things about a person whom we envy. ‘we say: “Oh, yes, he is agreeable; however, he doesn’t dress well. He is awkward and stands in this way or that way.” we happen to know an interesting person, a prominent man, ,who is extremely jealous of one of his colleagues. At the same time, the man knows that he should not express jealousy, as it is not becoming of him. This very conflict colors his behavior and causes him to use slandering  expressions in order to lower the other person. This particular individual suffers from the effect of emotional conflict in his mind, behavior, and body. He has become neurotic and has developed serious functional ailments.

Psychologists ,who are followers of Freud think that conflicts and frustrations are created only in connected with the sex urge or pleasure urge. Adlerians have the idea that conflicts and frustrations are created because of the urge of self-expression or the power urge. Both are far from the truth. They try to associate the conflict with a specific emotion which is regarded by the particular school as the master urge. It has been found through later interpretation and study that such facts are not true. We happen to know an interesting psychiatrist ,who allowed himself to be analyzed by Freudians who interpreted his case in terms of sex impulses. Adler also analyzed him and tried to explain that difficulties ,were created by the malfunctioning of or conflict in self-expression. The gentleman himself was not convinced. We had occasion to study his case carefully, and it is our impression that a kind of dissatisfaction with life itself created these disturbances, as he does not have a sound philosophy of life. The elements of self-preservation, knowl edge, and companionship are operating in the human mind, and conflicts and frustrations can be created by anyone of these primitive instincts.

An individual was persuaded by his parents to take up engineering. He had considerable success; yet he ‘was not happy about it in spite of his position, and he began to have functional ailments. It was found that the type of profession imposed upon him was not satisfactory to his inner nature. He succeeded to the best of his ability, but it did not give him satisfaction. The same situation was found to be true in the case of the psychiatrist previously mentioned; his profession did not satisfy his inner nature, so the symptoms of functional ailments and mental disturbances became operative. It .will not be out of place to say that he had a successful profession, well-established social position, normal  marriage, and normal children.

Similarly, we find that a person can have conflict created by the knowledge urge. All of these emotions can create a Conflict and produce functional ailments. These primitive urges and secondary emotions, prospective as ,weIl as retrospective; can have serious effects on our bodies. It has been discovered that the secondary emotions of worry and remorse result in nerve disorders. Headache, heart trouble, and all sorts of pains and aches are created by these emotions.Little do we understand how such inner emotions can cause physical disturbances.

Dr. Golden’s of the Boston, working in the medical clinic of the Boston Dispensary has studied the effect of suggestion in about 300 cases of pain. Often the pain had been continuous and severe for weeks or months. His procedure consists of thrusting a hypodermic needle attached to an empty syringe into the skin of the painful area after it has been painted with iodine for the purpose of sterilizing the skin. Dr. Golden does not tell the patient that he is going to remove the pain. As he is preparing for the needle test in the presence of the patient he remarks in a low voice to his assistant, but plainly audible to the patient, how surprising, it is that the procedure he is about to employ has removed all pain with in a minute or two in go per cent of the cases in which he has used it. After the needle has been withdrawn he stands by the patient’s side, watch in hand. At the end of thirty seconds he asks how the pain is now and writes down the answer. At the end of a minute the query is repeated. Usually the patient says it is less at the end of thirty seconds and entirely gone after two minutes. In about half the cases the pain returned within twenty-four hours following this treatment by suggestion but sometimes complete relief persisted for weeks and rarely for months.

Dr. Golden’s work indicates that apparently pain of psychic origin is common ,and furthermore it has demonstrated that this pain is often localized and may occur in persons who present no obvious signs of hysteria or nervousness.  The conclusion seems justifiable that a pain removed immediately by mental treatment is probably mental rather than physical in origin but we have found occasionally that organic pain has been abolished by Golden’s procedure-in one instance the pain in acute pleurisy and in another epigastric pain in a patient who had a peptic ulcer which later perforated.

Another person has been suffering from ear trouble and has been treated by several ear specialists. The latest diagnosis of a great specialist is that emotional disturbances, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness are affecting the glands and the circulatory system, resulting in this type of ear trouble. According to the specialist, the patient can be cured only when  he win have emotional satisfaction. It is observed that he feels well when he is peaceful and not upset. Dr. Pratt reports that even toothache and other such troubles originate in the emotional life of an individual. This does not mean that toothache is imaginary; but apprehension, worry, disgust, jealousy, and anger disturb the proper functioning of the nerves, and ailments follow. Today, the majority of prominent physicians are thoroughly convinced that most of our physical ailments are originally functional disorders.

When the mind is troubled, when it has conflicting tendencies and is inharmonious and restless, the whole nervous system will be upset and will not function properly. Glands will be affected, and the circulatory system also will be disturbed. As a result, many ailments arise such as dyspepsia, headache, indigestion, and other difficulties which can easily become chronic. Perhaps many persons would be surprised to learn that some surgical cases were found to be all  functional in origin and could have been treated and cured had they been detected in time.

From  these two instances, and other such cases, it is safe to conclude that the claims made by reliable psycho therapeutists and psychiatrists are really valid. Every emotion has its reaction in the nervous system. For instance, Jove, sympathy, affection, or high spiritual emotions have a pleasing reaction. Have we not observed that when a mother is extremely irritated and comes into the presence of a sweet, smiling child her whole facial expression changes?

We have also seen that when we have been in the presence of a gigantic spiritual personality the whole body was re- freshed. We have, on certain occasions, seen people coming to a great spiritual personality with much sorrow  and heart-ache, and after remaining in that presence even for a few minutes the people were changed. There was little talk. Perhaps the holy man said: Hello, come in.’ or “How are you?” Perhaps he gave a gentle touch of blessing. It is almost impossible to believe that such things happen, but his smiling and happy presence removed the whole heartache, and the nerves became quiet.

It is also true that when ,we eat we should have a happy atmosphere and not become excited. We should talk of pleasant things because it helps digestion. Then the nerves function properly and the body remains quiet. On the other hand, when we have violent emotions we find the body shaking. With an outburst  of anger the body trembles all over, poison is generated, and we cannot have proper digestion. We have repeatedly seen that many lives are ruined by conflicts of emotion. Apart from the conflict, the emotions also create functional ailments and mental disturbances if there is a lack of balance. It is interesting to know that the human mind possesses certain powers of establishing a kind of harmony among the primitive emotions. The normal man is one whose emotions are well balanced. As there is always a danger of neurosis, however, we should be constantly alert that we do not lose the balance of the mind. When there is conflict or an extremely strong emotional urge, we often try to repress it either because of our feeling of self-respect or for other reasons.

Many of the Freudians, and even Lord RusseJI, would have us believe that repression is generally created by the so-called ethical and religious teachings. Some seem to thinkthat religious teachings are responsible for repressions, others are of the opinion that the mind tries to repress painful emo- tions or experiences; while another group comes to the conclusion that it is not merely the sense of pain that causes repression but the sense of propriety, selfrespect, and other such ideas. However, we can safely conclude that it is our very nature to repress disagreeable or unbecoming emotions or urges; and if we observe that our feelings are getting out of hand, we try to repress them. These repressions may be of voluntary or involuntary types.

It is true that repression of emotion is harmful and it creates functional ailments. Again, many persons adopt a defence reaction. They want to hide their emotions and theyshow other attitudes instead.. Sometimes people take up what they call substitution. They have a strong emotion of sex or self-expression for which they try to substitute somethingcreative in the form of art, painting, and other such activities. Then they sublimate that particular emotion through music or the arts. It is found that these methods are not permanently successful. When proper conditions or environments are offered, the original urges again become operative.

All limitations, all embankment or defenses, so to speak, are ,washed away. We often observe that when there is a mighty turrent in the river the little embankments are sweptaway, creating havoc. Similarly, these emotional urges some- times become so strong that, if the right stimuli are offered and the environment is favorble, all methods of substitution and sublimation become negligible.

Hindu psychologists, in fact spiritual leaders all over the world, advocate the use of self-control. This does not mean repression, as many psychiatrists and rationalists seem to apprehend. Self-control is based on the understanding and use of higher values of life. Stoics would advise one to control certain tendencies and conditions, knowing they are undesirable yet sometimes feeling helpless in coping with them.

The real spirit of self-control, however, as ,we advocate it, is based on the changing values of life. When a man learns to eat a better type of food, he has no further interest in an inferior quality. Similarly, when one’s mind is in the habit of enjoying higher values, like spiritual understanding and realization, it does not find an interest in the lower tendencies or human urges and instincts.

Some of the Western psychologists, such as McDougall “and others, seem to think that the instincts cannot be changed. It is true that instinctive drives are inherent in animals; but they do not seem to realize that man, in spite of his animal  nature, is more highly evolved. Man does not live on the instinctive plane. His intellectual achievements prove that hecan overcome some of the instinctive drives by cultivation of higher intellectual attitudes. We also observe that man has a still higher nature, a spiritual nature, which includes moralvalues. When man evolves on the spiritual plane, he completely changes his primitive instincts and urges. Sri Rama krishna, the great spiritual leader of  India, gives anappropriate illustration in this connection: “When the new  leaves sprout in a palm tree, the old leaves drop off without doing any damage whatsoever to the plant itself.” Similarly,when the spiritual nature of man is evolved in the form of love, unselfish service, sacrifice, and other such noble tendencies, his primitive urges drop off. In fact, his instincts are changed completely. It will not be out of place to say that even an animal changes its instinctive nature when it is domesticated and kept in a spiritual and harmonious atmosphere. We know a case in which a dog and a deer actually lived together in a spiritual place ,with towering spiritual personalities and did not express their natural enmity. Theycompletely overcame their primitive instincts and lived as friends. We also know that a cat and a mouse lived in the same place without showing any instinctive enmity toward each other. Many domestic animals change their primitive urges when they are retrained and kept in a harmonious atmosphere. Even ferocious animals change theirnatures under the influence of great spiritual personalities.

‘To die to live” is to overcome the lower self and lower directions of the emotions in order to manifest the higher nature and higher values of life. Then one expands and becomes absorbed in higher phases of experience. Consequently, the lower tendencies die out. The spirit of self control can be cIearly understood from the evolution of human nature.

The most outstanding urge in people is the search after the abiding spirit or God. There is an inherent desire in every man to experience the abiding spirit, and until he reaches that goal there is no hope for real peace of mind. This may seem to be a strong declaration, but when we think of God we and that the primitive instincts are reduced to the master urge for bliss.

We may have a strong feeling for self- expression or any other urge, yet, when we carry it out, we are not satisfied. The successful physician and psychiatrist, who was previously mentioned,has a fine family and home, yet he remains dissatisfied. Something is missing; something  is lacking. You and I know and have found that when people have led a life of success they very frequently have no real satisfaction inside themselves in spite of their so-called expression and position.

Until the innate urge for bliss is fulfilled and understood, there is no satisfaction in life. Frustrations cannot otherwise be successfully eliminated. We do not realize that we possess in the soul a mine of bliss. We go here and there seeking self-expression and self-preservation, while the whole thing is within us. Sri Ramakrishna illustrates this with an interesting example. The musk deer develops musk around its navel. When it matures, the deer gets its fragrance and searches everywhere for it; the foolish deer does not knowthat he possesses this fragrance all the time. We, too, do not realize that the mine of joy is within us, and we seek happiness in outside activities and pursuits. When we find inner joy, the other emotions are established in their proper places.

Similarly, if the guiding principle of divine power or spiritual value of life is withdrawn, there ,will be inevitable chaos in the life of a man resulting in conflict and frustration. But as long as we have God as the center of our lives ,we will find that the emotions of primitive and secondary types will be harmonized and integrated, and all conflicts will be dissolved. Life will be a wonderful expression of joy and happiness. This conclusion can be verified by the study of the lives of men and women who have attained a high level of spiritual realization.







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