What are the psychological risks of campaigns that focus on polarised emotions?
The year 2017, as every year that has just started, begins with certain amount of hope, necessary to face the new challenges ahead.
Despite the amount of hope a new year can bring, it is widely known that last year 2016, was a year in which many people around the world felt the stream of polarised opinions and emotions breathing behind their backs and haunting them in every corner where they were trying to hide.
We can still feel the consequences of all this turmoil and even if some people have already got over these unwelcome emotions, there are some people that still hold onto them.
The year 2016 was packed with polarised emotions and people still feel the consequences on 2017
The year 2016 was one of the worst years for many people and many blame external influences for this to happen.
While some people have internalised the unpleasant feelings 2016 raised in them, some have decided to externalise them. An example of this is this video hosted by the English comedian and media critic John Oliver where people voiced their feelings about how ‘bad’, ‘disgusting’, ‘shitty’, etc. the year 2016 had been.
It seems the video F*ck 2016 served for people to acknowledge the emotions of discomfort or unpleasant feelings they had about the year 2016.
But what does it happen when emotions are not acknowledged but instead rejected?
We all know what emotions are, but they have also been taken for granted in our lives (Wilkinson and Campbell, 1997), for this reason we tend to ignore them most of the time. Emotions that are ignored usually become stronger, and therefore serve to personify what C.G Jung has called the shadow archetype (Jung, 1945, cited in Samuels, Shorter and Plaut, 1986) which we can see present in various current campaigns that appeal to the rejection of hate.
Love – no – hate
As a consequence of the variety of events the year 2016 brought, and the disparity of emotions that have arisen, we have being bombared with campaigns such as, #stopfundinghate, #lovetrumpshate, #hopenothate which seem to invite people to welcome a culture of love and exclude hate.
It seems that talking about hate is a bad thing and nobody really wants to welcome those feelings or whoever represents them. Many people still believe it is the right approach and that we all should only welcome those emotions that are ‘acceptable’ such as love, kindness and compassion, as the #stopfundinghate campaign suggests in their approach:
However, the truth behind these messages, is that they serve to further polarise emotions in people even if on the surface it seems that what they are trying to do is just the contrary.
Campaigns such as, #stopfundinghate, #lovetrumpshate, #hopenothate, all seem to be pointing to addressing that the emotion of hate should be taken out of the equation.
They all point to the fact that hate is something bad, and therefore should be ‘defeated’ and changed for something different.
The danger about this approach in campaigning, is that the breach between black and white, love and hate, good and bad becomes bigger. This approach in campaigning disapproves the range of emotions a human being can experience, which “colour our world and give meaning to our lives” (Wilkinson and Campbell, 1997, p40), and therefore limits the possibilities for us to actually produce profound changes inside of us and therefore in society.
Instead of refusing to feel hate, or to accept images of hate, it is necessary for us to start understanding what lays behind those expressions instead of denying them.
These approaches in campaigning disapprove the range of emotions a human being can experience.
It doesn’t mean we should not appeal for a culture of love instead of a culture of hate, our experience as human beings goes beyond than saying that something is black or white. Therefore, this discussion needs further thought and reflection.
We invite you to read more about our views on the shadow archetype and the implications it has in our relationships and in the way we build or destroy our societies.
The featured image in this article was taken from: https://twitter.com/davidrossspiel?lang=en
Note to readers: This post is part of my reflections of Critical Issues in Campaigning at the University of Westminster MA in Media Campaigning and Social Change.
Cerella, A. (2016): Encounters at the end of the world: Max Weber, Carl Schmitt and the Tyranny of Values, Journal for Cultural Research, DOI: 10.1080/14797585.2016.1141833
Samuels, A., Shorter, B. and Plaut, F. (1986). A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis. London and New York: Routledge.
Willkinson, J.D., Campbell, E. (1997). Psychology in Counselling and Therapeutic Practice. West Sussex: Wiley.