Afflictive emotions – our jealousy, anger, hatred, fear – can be put to an end. When you realize that these emotions are only temporary, that they always pass on like clouds in the sky, you also realize they can ultimately be abandoned. — the Dalai Lama
Warning! I give lots of unsolicited advice in this article — unsolicited, unprofessional, inexpert, etc. I am in no way a trained psychologist. All I’m doing is relating my own experience; so proceed at your own risk.
Fear, anger, worry, jealousy… These are some of the nastiest things we deal with in life. Why? Where do they come from? What are they for? And what can we do about it?
This article is a sequel to On Physical Violence, and carries forward a lot of its themes. However, I think a lot of the issues around emotional violence are less clear cut, and so the intent of this article is much more speculative and investigative.
What is Emotional Violence?
Some examples of emotional violence are:
- making threats
- trying to incite feelings of guilt or inadequacy
- constant non-constructive criticism
- intentional public embarrassment
What do these actions have in common? They are intentional, and they are an attempt to elicit an emotion; and furthermore, the emotion is an unpleasant one.
However, I don’t think the unpleasantness of the emotion is the defining characteristic here. If you’re in a bad mood, and some horribly cheerful person comes up to you and tries to cheer you up, I think this falls under emotional violence as well — not as severe, certainly, but nevertheless unwelcome. I suggest that emotional violence be defined as intentional elicitation of undesired emotion.
In other words, emotional violence is what is commonly called emotional manipulation, but with the addendum that the manipulation be toward emotions that are not wanted by the victim.
Does this correspond in any way to physical violence?