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Winterstein, A. Bergler, E. (1935). The Psychology of Pathos. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:414-424.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:414-424

The Psychology of Pathos

Alfred Winterstein and Edmund Bergler

'Yes—wildest tyranny hath yet its limits!

When the oppress'd find nowhere earthly succour,

When the load grows past endurance—they appeal

To Heaven—call down their everlasting rights,

Suspended there—inalienate—inalienable—

Which God hath framed, and man may not destroy'.

Schiller, William Tell, II, 2. (Translation by W. Peter.)

The word 'pathos' ordinarily signifies lofty expression in speech of a passionate emotion. But inasmuch as emotion and its expression in words overlap with one another, the word paqos, signifying the state of suffering, of being carried away by emotion, is used to describe any vehement affect underlying this mode of expression, and in particular a mood of solemnity and exaltation. Pathos is not unknown, either, in music, architecture, painting and plastic art. The idea of it is readily associated with the notion of something inflated, vague, shallow, and rather spurious; the type of person with little command of expression mostly regards the pathetic individual as half a lunatic, half a comedian. The pathetic southerner produces this effect on the northerner.

We do not apply the term 'pathos' to describe the behaviour of children. True pathos only really develops with the onset of puberty; when pathos marks a child's conversation, it leaves us with the impression of an imitation, of something 'secondhand'. This is in agreement with what clinical observations concerning the genesis of pathos reveal.

Those who have the task of bringing up children are accustomed to assume a pathetic tone when they reproach or instruct them.

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