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Isaacs, S. (1924). General: Alexander F. Shand. Suspicion. British Journal of Psychology, 1922, Vol. XIII, pp. 195–214.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:476-477.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: General: Alexander F. Shand. Suspicion. British Journal of Psychology, 1922, Vol. XIII, pp. 195–214.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:476-477

General: Alexander F. Shand. Suspicion. British Journal of Psychology, 1922, Vol. XIII, pp. 195–214.

Susan Isaacs

Suspicion tends to destroy social intercourse, so far as we act upon it; and the wider it spreads the more it paralyses the life of the community which reposes on some degree of confidence between its members. It tends to prevent our being taken by surprise on the approach of danger by rendering us prepared in advance to adopt at the right moment the right action. Whatever the strength of suspicion as regards the conviction of evil intent on the part of the person suspected, suspicion tends to be emotionally strong, other things equal, in proportion as the evil anticipated concerns ourselves and those whom we love, and emotionally weak so far as it concerns other persons. Taking the expression of suspicion as an index of its emotional constitution, it is clear that both fear and anger,

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together with curiosity, have influenced its expression. It is thus probable that we can account for the emotion of suspicion on the supposition that the disposition of fear, anger and curiosity are simultaneously excited whenever it is felt, and we can account for its behaviour on the supposition that some degree of preparedness in a particular form is common to these emotions, and that here the preparedness becomes general, because fear and anger mutually restrict one another, and only the behaviour common to both can find expression. But the tendency of suspicion to arrest social intercourse is due to another emotion, viz. repugnance. Suspicion thus appears to have no single end, but rather a plurality of ends, and in this it is possessed of a range of adaptability to which the constituent emotions severally can make no claim. It has a possible choice between their divergent tendencies, and in this versatility lies its peculiar and indispensable advantages. It shows a degree of patience and reflectiveness which is not possible to any one of the primary emotions. Whichever tendency of its complex nature is, in the actual situation, best adapted to the biological end of survival takes precedence over its other tendencies; thus, in one situation, to avoid the suspected person; in another, to watch until the situation becomes clearer, and, according to what is then seen to be wise, to fight or escape; in another, to continue to watch and make preparations indefinitely. It is in this last case that we can most clearly distinguish its characteristic behaviour, and the result which it is organised to achieve.

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Article Citation

Isaacs, S. (1924). General. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:476-477

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