On the Rise of the Psychological State
Chapter 5: Governing the body: addressing the temptations of food and alcohol
In a paper in the journal Biological Psychology, Nico Frijda (2010) discusses the various connections that exist between emotions and actions. On the one hand are those reflective actions that happen as a result of a cognitive process of reflection. The main focus of Frijda’s attention, however, is on the impulsive actions that underpin much of what we do as humans. These actions are familiar experiences to most if not all of the readers of this book and include ‘punching someone in a bar brawl’, ‘running away upon perceiving threat’, ‘following an attractive person with one’s eyes’ and ‘taking one more drink after deciding that the previous one was the last’ (Frijda 2010: 571). Frijda notes that these impulsive actions possess a number of characteristics, whose significance for this book should be quite apparent. First, impulsive actions do not take place on the basis of prior deliberation. Second, impulsive actions take place as a result of an individual’s overwhelming focus on the significance of the present as a cue for action. Third, impulsive actions involve an action, which reflects an aim of some kind. In the context of this chapter – which deals with the various attempts being made to govern the body by the neoliberal state – many of the aims that underpin impulsive actions are centred on pleasure, whether in relation to consuming food and alcohol or engaging in different forms of bodily gratification (du Plessis, 2011).
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