On feelings, emotion and privacy

October 23, 2007

Stephen Fineman’s distinction between feeling (the private experience) and emotion (the public performance of that feeling) is interesting to consider through the lens of this quote from Adam Phillips’ New York Times piece Grief on Demand from 1997- a reflection on the death of Diana and the scolding of the royal family because of their lack of publicly expressed emotion.

If emotions are considered to be real only when one is seen having them, preferably by people one doesn’t know, it implies that for better and for worse, we no longer know what to make of what we once called privacy.

That quote is so rich it refuses to leave me alone…
I am so enjoying the newly liberated archives of the New York Times..

2 People reacted on this

  1. I think that is a great quote from Adam Phillips although I wonder if “implies” is not, perhaps, a little too vague a word for him to use in making a such a general statement. Our privacy is ultimately our own choice is it not?

  2. I think what Phillips is getting at is the fact that when it is our own choice others have a view about that – the Royal Family made a choice about privacy at the time of Diana’s death and were attacked for that…so if privacy is up for negotiation (i.e. not something we respect as being the choice of an individual) what does that mean for the state of privacy? Like I said in the piece…the quote won’t leave me alone and I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read it!

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