General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Does every emotion have a purpose?

Asked by tinyfaery (43781points) June 17th, 2009

I ask because in another thread I said jealousy is useless. DBT training taught me that all emotions have a positive and negative purpose, but I am not so sure I believe it.

Does jealousy have a positive purpose? How about hate? Can you justify their purposes?

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23 Answers

nebule's avatar

I think their purpose is to help us survive…

noelasun's avatar

I think both jealousy and hate can be positive emotions if they work to serve as a motivator. Though it’s not the best way, or maybe not even a good way, but it can be an effective way.

I’ve seen too many things let slide by in the name of “love” and “tolerance”. Hate can be a much needed reminder to help us re-assess what we think and believe in.

marinelife's avatar

Like many things that evolved as defenses, emotions may not be the best answer to a situation that arouses them.

In the case of jealousy, it alerts you to potential situations in which you could lose your mate, which biologically would not be desirable.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Eckhart Tolle would say no, that emotions are an attempt from your ego to reinforce itself, and that whenever you have a negative emotion, stop and be present.

I am not so sure about what that means or how that works. But that may be my ego resisting its elimination. :/

Ravage's avatar

I think I’d have to go with Marina on this one.

Judi's avatar

I think that jealousy is a natural warning sign and that it sometimes gets off kilter. Just like someone with allergies has an overactive histamine reaction, some people have an over active jealousy reaction. They have to recognise when it is and isn’t rational and learn to master their response to it.

Bobbilynn's avatar

I am in DBT training, for almost 3 years now, and this is a debate we have each time the topic is brought up!
After hearing Both sides of the coin, and learning about my own emotions.
I believe that each and every emotion we have is for a reason, (purpose, is not a word I can relate too)
The reasons can be a direct link from an action, past or present.
You have 5 sources that deliver messages, that create emotions, without any action by you.

oratio's avatar

It might not be obvious for us 2009 in the west why hate would have a purpose. I can’t justify it easily myself.

But we have evolved for other types of living conditions than now, living conditions that existed many thousands of years ago. All mammals – as far as I know – have the ability to hate, which means those emotions developed far earlier than the existence of humans.

Judi's avatar

Ecclesiastes 3:
1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

tinyfaery's avatar

Sorry judi, but that means nothing to me. Thanx though.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I would say that all emotions do serve a purpose. I think someone else touched on it but many are for the purpose of self-protection. They work for us at the time they are needed but we often over extend them to when it is no longer needed. Also emotions help us relieve ourselves, whatever the emotion we are expressing a part of ourselves that needs some relief.

Jealousy for example could just be a way of relieving the tense thoughts of trust in a relationship. Or is a tool to help cover sadness of what one does not have. Sometimes that tool is useful but many times it is not. For the infertile woman who is trying to conceive she is often jealous of others pregnancies in some sense. This is more about covering the pain of their struggle which can’t always be expressed appropriately. And a way of showing their fear that what they so desperately want may not come about. It is being able to recognize that fear through the jealousy because jealousy is a much more easily accessible emotion than fear or deep pain. It’s not a “nice” emotion but it is serving a few purposes.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

Jealousy has a purpose I think. For instance the alpha male in a herd/pack/etc often doesn’t allow the other males to mate with the group of females he’s selected. which, that’s a form of jealousy it seems, but obviously isn’t discussed because animals can’t verbalize their emotions.
For females, who in several instances through out the animal kingdom mate with only one or two partners their entire lives. So after they’ve successfully ‘reeled in’ a male, it serves a biological purpose to be protective of him around other females.

But if you’re talking about material jealousy, I think that’s just a resultant of being able to see what one’s life would be like if they had certain things that another owns.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Like many things, we perceive things that exist (like emotions) and try to give them meaning when it’s not always necessary.

For example, why do we cry when we’re sad? I think it’s better just to know that we cry when we are sad.

cyn's avatar

Does jealousy have a positive purpose? How about hate? Can you justify their purposes?
+jealousy: makes the parson believe thet you want them and that you don’t llike sharing him/her with another person
-jealusy: can mean that you are insecure…and that you do not believe in him/her
+hate: it shows that you are not afraid.
-hate: you may not seem like a lovable person. you have problems…
Emotions are all about how and when you use them….

YARNLADY's avatar

To me the word ‘purpose’ doesn’t adequatly describe the reason for emotions. There are chemical reactions in the brain brought about by different stimulations, and we have given names to the them, such a jealousy, or anger, or fear. That is not a purpose, but merely a description.

Bobbilynn's avatar

I total agree with you YARNLADY!
To say purpose gives all emotions a power you might not be able to keep in check! Like jealousy

nebule's avatar

hate…of course is non-existent!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

When any emotion becomes obsessive, it moves into the “bad thing” category. A little jealousy can be a motivator, or can be a little flattering if someone being jealous of you causes you to not take your circumstance or situation for granted. Hatred’s a little strong; let’s go with “intense dislike” can be a motivator to analyze a circumstance, time spent with a person, job, etc. and be a catalyst for change.

nebule's avatar

please forgive my drunken fluthering… although I’m a little intrigued as to how I came to that ^ conclusion…

dannyc's avatar

It is a mirror into your true feelings.

mattbrowne's avatar

Emotions are automatic responses triggered by our unconscious brain. Feelings are emotions combined with conscious thinking.

f4a's avatar

i agree with dannyc.. about mirror into your true feelings/or self

i think jealousy and anger do not serve any good purpose though. and most certainly should not be a motivator for something that you would want to achieve. those emotions should be taken as just being there or present, that it only exist but not to be provoked to expand in the world of its negative impact. with that, one can control those emotions and becomes indifferent. one will find other reason to be motivated to achieve their goals. remember to achieve something because you are driven, not because of jealousy and anger.

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