Year

1991

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Department of Psychology

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to establish that, in the history of human thought on emotion, a gradual development has been taking place that reflects the ways in which our emotional processes have been changing, and gives us an indication of the ways in which they may yet change. Within this general aim, the claim is made and substantiated that certain perspectives on emotion can be abstracted from the many theories put forward in the history of western thought. These perspectives are yielded by the different ways in which emotions have been conceptually related to cognitive processes, physiological processes, ethical concepts, motivation and creativity - that is, by the ways in which past thinkers have related the personal experience of feelings to physiological states, to ways of thinking, to the practice of morality, to our reasons for acting, and to the creative process in its many forms.

A further supported claim is made that psychological theories of emotion emerging in modern times were developed in a scientific and/or psychotherapeutic context. However, they too could be scrutinised within the framework of the perspectives that emerged from philosophical backgrounds. They can also be seen to establish new levels of awareness of the development of emotional processes, most particularly in the work of Sigmund Freud and George Kelly. The claims are also made and supported, that within Freud's Theory of the Instincts there exists a more complex, cognitively based theory of emotions, and that within Kelly's Theory of Personal Constructs there exists a theory of emotions that posits the closest relationship between thinking and feeling yet conceived. It is argued that a more satisfactory use can be made of Kelly's process of construing if it is preceded by a personal analysis of emotions based on Freud's theory. That is, I have argued that Kelly's process of construing involves both feeling and thinking as a rational process, and that a personal awareness of the ways in which we feel and structure our feelings (such awareness being assisted by the knowledge yielded by Freud's work) is important to the development of the construing process in each of us. A brief description of a technique of emotion analysis based on aspects of Freud's psychoanalytic technique is presented in the final chapter, with an account of how the emotional awareness gained thereby contributes more fully to the construing process. An illustration of this process is given in Appendix I.

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