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Lander, J. (1954). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 23:628-629.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:628-629

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Joseph Lander


The psychology of emotion has two distinct facets: affect, which is an inner kinetic reaction comprising enteroceptive, proprioceptive, and verbal-representational components; and expression of emotion, a learned faculty acquired under environmental and cultural influences. The roots of emotion are in the basic vital activities. Homeostatic equilibrium is maintained by intricate and automatic physiological mechanisms through the vegetative autonomic system. It is suggested that anxiety is the primary emotion of displeasure and the basic source of other displeasure emotions. As the child matures, it develops secondary displeasure emotions of rage (aggression), fear (evasion), and depression (submission). Still later, tertiary displeasure emotions arise; guilt, shame, and disgust. These secondary and tertiary emotions are essentially spontaneous attempts by the individual to alter reality, to obtain relief from anxiety. In the first few months of life there is a physiology rather than a psychology of emotion or affect. Only later, with inner awareness of unpleasantness associated with the visceral reaction, is there an anxiety reaction comparable to the adult reaction. The signal reaction of anxiety appears with the growth of perceptive and executive capacities of the ego as it becomes able to anticipate stimuli of anxiety. Anxiety has two components connected with danger to the integrity of the organism.

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