Sunday, June 26, 2011

Do psychopaths feel Relief?

A reader wrote:

Please tell me your experience of these emotions:
Intimidation
Relief
Do you feel them at all? What are your notions of them?

I wanted to reply, but I didn't know what to say. So I decided to think about it, and today, more than a week later, I think I have the answer... I'll start with Relief, and write about intimidation next time.

So how am I with this emotion, do I feel relief, have I ever felt relief, and if I have, how did it feel?

Strange as it may sound, I can think of many times where relief would be the natural emotional response. But the fact is, I can't explain this feeling.
There've been many times where I've said: "I'm so relieved!" and "What a relief!", I would make that deep exhale, holding my hand at my stomach, as we all no doubt have seen people do in this kind of incident.

But I can't put my finger on how the actual emotion feels, or if I ever felt it. I've 'performed' relief so many times, not thinking about it or whether felt it or not, so when I was asked outright if I feel it, I was unable to answer. I think the truth is that I never have felt real relief, at least not in the traditional sense.

It puzzled me that I couldn't explain anything about relief at all, and it reminded me of the times in prison when I would be asked about all kinds of feelings and I had to think of something I'd read or heard in order to find something to say about it. With relief I can easily mimic the way I know it's supposed to be expressed, and I've done it on many occasions.

It seems that my feelings have a strong cognitive bend. When I was in the in situations where I f.x. barely escaped capture after having done something criminal, the relief I expressed was more of a cognitive recognition of the situation than it was some distinct emotion.

When I looked up the definition of relief I found it to be somewhat different from what I thought the word meant. It also made it much more understandable for me that I don't experience this emotion, because it seems that what you gain relief from has to be associated with some form of stress and pain, danger and fear. I didn't realize this, and so I was at loss for words.

I've always associated relief with a situation, not with an emotion. If I had been more aware when I learned how to show relief, I would've noticed something wasn't quite right, for why would I have to exhale deeply and smile while giving a 'saying' look at the others present? I've seen this behavior as a form of communication, after all a lot of our communication happens with gestures and how we look at each other.

Since I don't experience these things the way that most people experience them, I would also not really have any trigger of relief. Danger, and even fear to some extent, for me are exciting. They add color to my life - which I don't see as a sign of emotional poverty, but a sign that I have emotional room for a lot.

I have learned something new again, and I can thank my Readers for helping me do so with great questions. More to the point, I hope Readers will learn from my attempts at describing and explaining these things.

___

11 comments:

TheNotablePath said...

Another thing we have in common.

But I think it's more than just a lack of relief, or maybe it's not related to relief at all. Maybe it's just that I find many experiences, traumatic or not, highly underwhelming.

It's just a thought.

When I thought I was going to be murdered, when it was over and I wasn't, I didn't feel relief. I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

When I paid off most of my student loans and my first brand new car, I didn't feel relief.

When I became engaged (and ultimately when I broke it off) I didn't feel relief.

I think the closest thing I get to relief is a good bowel movement.

ZKM said...

Hmm, I thought relief was a feeling of mental relaxation. Like, you just met your work quota for this month, now you're relieved? Is it supposed to be more physical than that? If I were you I would've posted the definition. But no worries! Thankfully you have me to save the day!

::A feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.

I often find with emotions, that the definitions I make in order to understand when to use them, are different from the actual meaning. I call them Functional Definitions; maybe I don't know exactly what it feels like but I know when to use it. For me relief is a shift in gears, that's how I've learned how to use it. Anytime my focus/energy goes from high energy to lesser I should feel 'relief'.

Bella said...

I can feel relief in my body. Yes, ZKM, it always involves the release of anxiety. It's why exercise often helps. I liken it to the alleviation to a mood swing. I think I became a rapid cycler recently. This is a very new ride and very different from a lifelong battle of blah, so being aware of relief is apparent big time. It's calm and quiet, serene and just plain and simple. Thanks for making me aware of it, Zhawq, because I have to learn to harness it more often. And I'm learning!

Zhawq said...

Notable,

Another thing we have in common.

Indeed. It's funny how two people can be so very different and yet have so much in common.

I find many experiences, traumatic or not, highly underwhelming.

'Underwhelming'... What do you mean? An awareness of emotional absence where one "should" be there?

I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

It's impossible to get an impression of whether or not you reacted normally with so little to go by.
Depending on how long time has gone by since you had this experience, "Wanting to get out of there" could mean that you were still in some kind of shock, or you may have suppressed it.

When I became engaged (and ultimately when I broke it off) I didn't feel relief.

I don't associate this with the kind of situations that would trigger relief, there's no element of danger or risk.
But it is in fact the kind of situations that many people feel relieved about.

Thanks for pointing it out.

When I became engaged (and ultimately when I broke it off) I didn't feel relief.

lol. In that case you gave up far too early! ;D

I think the closest thing I get to relief is a good bowel movement.

If you ever suffer from indigestion you know the cure! Getting your hands on the meds may prove harder, though. ;)



ZKM,


For me relief is a shift in gears...

Oh, I see. Interesting formulation.

If I were you I would've posted the definition.

I actually did create a link, but I see it isn't there (quite annoying, I've had whole posts that didn't publish the links).
I'll look at it and post a link if I can't implement it in the normal manner.

Thank you for pointing it out, ZK!... '^L^,


Bella,

I can feel relief in my body. ... it always involves the release of anxiety.

I see. Thank you for clarifying this!

Thanks for making me aware of it, Zhawq

You're welcome, Bella. It's my pleasure.

And I'm learning!

Knowledge is power, and without it we can't change anything.

I'm learning too!... '^L^,

Zhawq said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zhawq said...

ZKM,

If I were you I would've posted the definition.

That's what I get for being too hasty.

You've got a point. ;)

Anonymous said...

I have learned something new again, and I can thank my Readers for helping me do so with great questions. More to the point, I hope Readers will learn from my attempts at describing and explaining these things.

This is very creppy, even more that the smiles faces you make.

BTW--
Great blog, great mind, I envy you in some ways. I can tell some evil red eyes in your writings sometimes thoug.

David Bizar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"You've got a point. ;)" Again--very creppy.

Anonymous said...

well I just learnt that I don't feel relief reading your article. It has far reaching implications too. Constant gratification seeking behaviour is constant because there is no relief. What I have thought was relief is not my emotion, and I let out slowly releasing anger with my breathe usually in this situation as a psuedo expression of relief.

As for needing stress fear etc to have relief, I'm fairly sure I have these feelings in degrees, but relief from them is merely a situational understanding, ie, there is no relief, just a new game plan.

cheers

Anonymous said...

A bit late to the party, but a feeling of satisfaction after fulfilling some need would imo be a form of physical relief such as a meal when really hungry, drink after a long hot drive, as some examples.