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Sorrow (emotion)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sorrow is an emotion, feeling, or sentiment. Sorrow "is more

'intense' than sadness... it implies a long-term state".[1] At the
same time "sorrow but not unhappiness suggests a degree
of resignation... which lends sorrow its peculiar air of

Moreover, "in terms of attitude, sorrow can be said to be half

way between sadness (accepting) and distress (not

1 Cult
2 Postponement
3 Shand and McDougall
4 See also Sorrow, drawing by Vincent van
5 References Gogh, 1882
6 Further reading

Romanticism saw a cult of sorrow develop, reaching back to The Sorrows of Young Werther of
1774, and extending through the nineteenth century with contributions like Tennyson's "In
Memoriam" "O Sorrow, wilt thou live with me/No casual mistress, but a wife"[3] up to W. B.
Yeats in 1889, still "of his high comrade Sorrow dreaming".[4] While it may be that "the Romantic
hero's cult of sorrow is largely a matter of pretence",[5] as Jane Austen pointed out satirically
through Marianne Dashwood, "brooding over her sorrows... this excess of suffering"[6] could have
serious consequences.

Partly in reaction, the 20th century has by contrast been pervaded by the belief that "acting
sorrowful can actually make me sorrowful, as William James long ago observed".[7] Certainly "in
the modern Anglo-emotional culture, characterized by the 'dampening of the emotions' in general...
sorrow has largely given way to the milder, less painful, and more transient sadness".[8] A
latter-day Werther is likely to be greeted by the call to '"Come off it, Gordon. We all know there is
no sorrow like unto your sorrow"';[9] while any conventional 'valeoftearishness and

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Sorrow (emotion) - Wikipedia

deathwhereisthystingishness' would be met by the participants 'looking behind the sombre backs of
one another's cards and discovering their brightly-colored faces'.[10] Perhaps only the occasional
subculture like the Jungian would still seek to 'call up from the busy adult man the sorrow of animal
life, the grief of all nature, "the tears of things"'.[11]

Late modernity has (if anything) only intensified the shift: 'the postmodern is closer to the human
comedy than to the abyssal discontent...the abyss of sorrow'.[12]

'Not feeling sorrow invites fear into our lives. The longer we put off feeling sorrow, the greater our
fear of it becomes. Postponing the expression of the feeling causes its energy to grow'.[13] At the
same time, it would seem that 'grief in general is a "taming" of the primitive violent discharge
affect, characterized by fear and self-destruction, to be seen in mourning'.[14]

Julia Kristeva suggests that 'taming sorrow, not fleeing sadness at once but allowing it to settle for a what one of the temporary and yet indispensable phases of analysis might be'.[15]

Shand and McDougall

Sadness is one of four interconnected sentiments in the system of Alexander Faulkner Shand, the
others being fear, anger, and joy. In this system, when an impulsive tendency towards some
important object is frustrated, the resultant sentiment is sorrow.[16]

In Shand's view, the emotion of sorrow, which he classifies as a primary emotion, has two impulses:
to cling to the object of sorrow, and to repair the injuries done to that object that caused the emotion
in the first place. Thus the primary emotion of sorrow is the basis for the emotion of pity, which
Shand describes as a fusion of sorrow and joy: sorrow at the injury done to the object of pity, and
joy as an "element of sweetness" tinging that sorrow.[17]

William McDougall disagreed with Shand's view, observing that Shand himself recognized that
sorrow was itself derived from simpler elements. To support this argument, he observes that grief,
at a loss, is a form of sorrow where there is no impulse to repair injury, and that therefore there are
identifiable subcomponents of sorrow. He also observes that although there is an element of
emotional pain in sorrow, there is no such element in pity, thus pity is not a compound made from
sorrow as a simpler component.[17]

See also
Grief Suffering
Regret (emotion)

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1. Anna Wierzbicka, Emotions across Languages and Cultures (1999) p. 66

2. Wierzbicka, p. 66
3. In Memoriam (London 1851) p. 84
4. W. B. Yeats, The Poems (London 1983) p. 8
5. Lilian R. Furst, Romanticism in Perspective (1979) p. 102-3
6. Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (London 1932) p. 183 and p. 157
7. Jenefer Robinson, Deeper than Reason (2005) p. 82
8. Wierzbicka, p. 67
9. C. P. Snow, Last Things (Penguin 1974) p. 251
10. Gnter Grass, The Meeting at Telgte (London 1981) p. 94
11. Robert Bly, Iron John (Dorset 1991) p. 239
12. Julia Kristeva, Black Sun (New York 1989) p. 258-9 and p. 3
13. Erika M. Hunter, Little Book of Big Emotions (London 2004) p. 115
14. Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (London 19460 p. 395
15. Kristeva, p. 84-5
16. Beatrice Edgell (1929). "Sentiments, Character, Free Will". Ethical Problems. London: Methuen & Co.
Ltd. p. 73.
17. William McDougall (1994). Introduction To Social Psychology. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors.
pp. 6869. ISBN 9788171564965.

Further reading
William Lyons (1985). Emotion (reprint ed.). Cambridge Wikimedia Commons
University Press. pp. 4243. ISBN 9780521316392. has media related to

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Categories: Emotions

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