Comforting Thought: The pursuit of our ‘true feelings’ infantilises us

Kindness woman psychology Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Or to put it more bluntly and less delicately – Fuck your feelings! At least that’s the general idea that I extracted from this quote by Danish philosopher and psychologist Svend Brinkmann.

“There is nothing about feelings in themselves that means we must trust them – let alone express them. In an ever-changing cultural situation, our emotions probably change faster than ever.

“As a rule, our feelings don’t constitute a foundation on which to stand firm. Rather, they change in response to prevailing circumstances and trends. It’s an illusion to believe that delving deep into your inner feelings is a path to authenticity. There’s nothing desirable about exploding in anger at a fellow motorist driving too slow in the fast lane, even if it’s authentic, even if you really are angry about it.

Every Picture Tells A Story: Child Sees Television for the First Time

“In essence the worship of authenticity in the pursuit of true feelings infantilises us. The toddler who is swaddled in his feelings – who smiles when happy and cries when frustrated – is therefore implicitly presented as the ideal. Such children may be sweet and delightful, but this cult of the authentic and the childlike is highly problematic in adulthood. As an adult you should instead admire those who are capable of controlling – even suppressing negative emotions.” ~ Svend Brinkmann

From: Standing Firm: Resisting The Self Improvement Craze by Svend Brinkmann

Svend Brinkmann

Svend Brinkmann is a Danish Professor of Psychology in the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University, Denmark. He serves as a co-director of the Centre for Qualitative Studies. He is the author of ‘The Joy of Missing Out’ and ‘Stand Firm.’

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

2 thoughts on “Comforting Thought: The pursuit of our ‘true feelings’ infantilises us

    1. I definitely agree, with so much focus on emotions which can change on a whim, or with lack of sleep, lack of food, even the weather it’s not possible to be really certain of anything. He is right when he says people like that can be like babies having a tantrum. I think everyone is guilty of it sometimes though, letting emotions take over too much, I know I am. Such great advice from him and I highly recommend that book. 🙂


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