Volume 47, Issue 2, Fall 2019
Stop Telling Me What to Feel!
A Clinical Theory of Emotions and What’s Wrong with the Moralization of Feelings
“Don’t be jealous of your sister.” “Don’t be angry with your father.” “You should be more forgiving.” “You ought to feel terrible for what you’ve done.” “You ought to feel ashamed of yourself!” It is common practice within our society to morally reprimand people for their emotions, thereby expressing a kind of moralism: the idea that there are morally right and morally wrong ways to feel. Drawing on an alternative way of engaging with emotions derived from my experience working clinically with people with personality disorders, I argue against the value of this common practice and the moralization of emotions that underpins it. Stop telling people what to feel!