Seeking Clarity

Image showing text of exercise in understanding anger from mind over mood

Sometimes, I come across something profound and meaningful in the ordinary and mundane, just every now and zen—you saw that coming, right?

One of the dimensions of how Cogsworth processes emotions is clarity. Or, should I write: CLARITY. I don't mean to shout, but I came across a difference that illustrates the point perfectly.

In translation, intensity just doesn't always come across. One person's glare is another person's dull surprise, and yet someone else's "Blue Steel," perhaps?

I was just re-reading the book, Mind Over Mood, and in an exercise called, "Understanding Anger," it became clear why I chose CLARITY.

Many models of emotions I had seen had used a scale of "intensity" as a relative differentiator of an experience of an emotion. Like the exercise in Mind Over Mood where one is asked to rate the experience of anger from the most intense in one's life, using terms like enraged, to the mild sensation of annoyance. I've been accused of being intensely irritated—an apparent contradiction—but not in the eye of the beholder! Not, just to point out, that I haven't been accused of being intensely irritating, but that's not a contradiction, more like a constant.

See? Context will determine so much, and the relative value of the experience lost in the translation. And that's the key to the processing of emotions, recognizing the difference in values even when they are typically only clear at their extremes. In other words, enraged translates pretty darn well. Irritation is certainly open to interpretation—could be gas?

But at its extreme, anger is clear. And a lot of people may learn to escalate or clarify their position through dramatics—myself included! I do even like to hear myself talk, so I don't even need to escalate or clarify via intensity directly, but rather, indirectly through a labored and pointed extrapolation as I draw out a long and seemingly never-ending argument, culminating in a dry and academic recapitulation that embodies the premise, kind of like this sentence...

A dimension of clarity may register an apathetic teenager's defiant, "Whatever," that would have been missed relying upon intensity as a dimension. Not that rating experiences of emotions on scales of intensity isn't perfectly suited for one's own relative use, you just had to be there in order to get any use out of that scale of intensity.

In order to get past the "you just had to be there" barrier in translating emotions, new criteria have been devised to reflect a multi-dimensional theory of mind. And if the results keep improving, you can bet I will continue to devise new ones as well!


Straight from my Kindle:

"Anger is linked to a perception of threat, damage, or hurt, and to a belief that important rules have been violated. We also can become angry if we think we have been treated unfairly or prevented from obtaining something we expected to achieve."

Greenberger PhD, Dennis. Mind Over Mood, Second Edition (p. 257). Guilford Publications.

Experiencing anger as measured by the Orthogonal Model of Emotions would be a present or past event on the GENERATIVE dimension intersecting with a negative RELATIVE value of loss (or gain) on any level or domain of SUBJECTIVE point of view. Those three dimensions are sufficient to differentiate anger from anxiety or sadness. The additional dimensions of CLARITY and ACCEPTANCE, only the former referenced here in this post, were needed for sophisticated translation of the full range of emotion.

C.J. Pitchford, Paracounselor