The human mind is complex and we often experience psychological phenomena without knowing their names. Here are 17 lesser-known but common psychological states, along with practical examples for easier understanding.
Enrapture is an intense emotion that can make us feel outside of ourselves in situations of joy or satisfaction. An example might be an athlete who wins a gold medal and is overcome with happiness.
Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria and is characterized by sadness, tiredness, anxiety and lack of energy. For example, someone might experience dysphoria after being under constant stress at work.
Normopathy occurs when someone follows social norms obsessively, at the expense of his or her own personality. For example, a person who dresses and behaves in a certain way just because it is what society expects.
- Repetition compulsion
Repetition compulsion is a desire to return to a previous state, which leads to repeating certain behaviors. For example, someone who always chooses the same food in a restaurant or engages in similar relationships.
Abjection is a feeling of horror that can be physically disturbing, such as seeing something frightening. An example might be someone who encounters an accident scene and is overwhelmed by the similarity between the injured bodies and his or her own body.
Sublimation is a Freudian concept in which sexual or destructive drives are transformed into something more socially acceptable. For example, an artist who channels his sexual energy into creating a work of art rather than acting inappropriately.
- Repressive desublimation
Herbert Marcuse proposed repressive desublimation to explain how sexual liberation does not necessarily lead to general liberation and can strengthen repressive mechanisms. An example might be the hippie movement of the 1960s, where sexual openness did not always lead to significant social change.
Aporia refers to the emptiness we feel when something we believed in turns out to be false or ambiguous. For example, someone who discovers that their lifelong belief in an urban myth is incorrect.
Compersion is the opposite feeling to jealousy when a partner is with another person. In an open relationship, someone might feel satisfaction in seeing their partner making out with someone else. Another example is feeling joy when a friend wins a prize in which you were also competing.
- Group feelings
Some feelings only occur in groups, in contrast to our personal beliefs. For example, a person might advocate gender equality in a group discussion, even though he or she has never thought about the issue individually before.
It is the experience of having contradictory or conflicting feelings towards a person, object or situation. For example, someone may feel both love and hate toward a loved one in a time of conflict.
It is the inability to experience pleasure or enjoyment in activities that would normally be considered pleasurable. Anhedonia is a common symptom of depression. A real-life example of anhedonia would be someone who used to enjoy playing music, spending time with friends, or participating in a favorite hobby, but due to depression, no longer finds pleasure or satisfaction in these activities.
A psychoanalytic term that refers to the process of investing emotional energy in a person, object or idea. Cathexis can be positive or negative. A practical example of cathexis might be a parent who invests emotional energy in the success and well-being of his or her child, resulting in the parent feeling pride and happiness when the child succeeds, or disappointment and sadness when the child faces difficulties.
- Halo effect
This is a cognitive bias in which our general impression of a person influences how we judge their specific characteristics. For example, if someone is physically attractive, we might assume that they are also intelligent and personable, even without knowing them well. Another real-world example of the halo effect can be seen in the workplace when an employee who is perceived as charismatic and confident receives more responsibility and praise, even if their job performance is not necessarily better than their co-workers.
- Locus of control
Refers to a person’s belief about whether he or she has control over events in his or her life. Those with an internal locus of control believe that they are in control and responsible for their actions, while those with an external locus of control believe that external factors, such as luck or fate, determine what happens to them.
An example of locus of control would be two individuals who receive poor grades on an exam. The person with an internal locus of control may believe that they failed because they did not study hard enough, while the person with an external locus of control may blame the teacher or the difficulty of the test for their poor performance.
- Cognitive dissonance
It is the psychological discomfort we experience when we have two contradictory beliefs, attitudes or values. People often try to reduce this tension by changing one of the conflicting beliefs or attitudes.
A real-life example of cognitive dissonance might occur when someone who values environmental sustainability buys a gas-guzzing car because it was on sale. They may experience discomfort due to the contradiction between their values and their actions and may try to justify their decision by minimizing the environmental impact of the car or emphasizing its other benefits.
- Placebo effect
Occurs when a person experiences an improvement in his or her condition after receiving an inert treatment or one with no real therapeutic effect, simply because he or she expects it to work. A practical example of the placebo effect can be seen in clinical trials, where participants receiving a sugar pill or sham treatment, believing they are receiving a real drug, may report improvements in their symptoms simply because they expect the treatment to work.
The human mind is incredibly complex and we experience a wide variety of psychological states, some of which may be unfamiliar to us. Knowing these states and their practical examples can facilitate understanding of our own experiences and those around us, as well as foster greater empathy and awareness of human emotions.
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