Lost Chorus

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Chapter 8 endnote 37, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Following a trail of references, I discovered a treasure trove of over a hundred publications, written across a span of fifty years, that most of my scientific colleagues had never heard of. The writers were nascent constructionists, though they did not use that term.

Among the papers of the Lost Chorus:

  • One 1932 paper proclaimed that “emotions, as patterns of response, do not exist.”[1] A companion piece in 1933 stated "There is nothing about 'rage' as such, that entitled it to a specific name. Descriptively, rage is a state of unpleasant excitement in a situation calling for attack. If the situation calls for retreat, the emotion is known as fear."[2]
  • Another from 1932 called the search for emotion essences “as much an anachronism in psychology today as is the search for the soul; and it is a search of the same sort.”[3]
  • A paper from 1934 called into question the distinctiveness of emotions, "Though the term 'emotion' is assumed to denote a unique state of the organism, no one of these criteria has been successful in delimiting this state in such a way as to make it appear different in kind from other states."[4][5][6]
  • A fourth from 1941 concluded “we are no longer apt to think of emotion as a ‘thing’… unique and clearly separable from other psychological phenomena.”[7]

The list went on and on.[8]


Notes on the Notes

  1. Harlow, Harry F. and Ross Stagner. 1932. "Psychology of feelings and emotions. I. Theory of feelings." Psychological Review 39 (6): 570-589, p. 572.
  2. Harlow, Harry F. and Ross Stagner. 1933. "Psychology of feelings and emotions. II. Theory of emotions." Psychological Review 40 (2): 184-195, p. 193.
  3. Dunlap, Knight. (1932). "Are emotions teleological constructs?" The American Journal of Psychology 44 (3): 572–576.
  4. Duffy, Elizabeth. 1934. "Emotion: An example of the need for reorientation in psychology." Psychological Review 41 (2): 184–198, p. 186.
  5. Duffy, Elizabeth. 1934. "Is emotion a mere term of convenience?" Psychological Review 41 (1): 103–104.
  6. Duffy, Elizabeth. 1941. "An explanation of 'emotional' phenomena without use of the concept 'emotion.'" The General Journal of Psychology 25 (2): 283–293.
  7. Hunt, William A. 1941. "Recent developments in the field of emotion." Psychological Bulletin 38 (5): 249–276.
  8. For more references, see Gendron, Maria, and Lisa Feldman Barrett. 2009. "Reconstructing the past: A century of ideas about emotion in psychology." Emotion Review 1 (4): 316-339.