Affect (from Latin affectus – experience, emotional excitement, passion) – the term of philosophy and psychology, meaning a relatively brief, violent and violently flowing emotional experience (fear, rage, horror, despair, etc.); usually accompanied by sharp expressive movements, shouting, crying.
Affect can disrupt the normal course of higher mental processes – perception and thinking, cause constriction, and sometimes the darkening of consciousness. Under certain conditions, negative affects are fixed in memory in the form of affective complexes. These traces of the experienced affective states are able to become actualized under the influence of stimuli associated with the environment that caused the affect. Another important feature of the affect is that with the repetition of negative affects caused by the same or similar factors, their manifestation may increase (the phenomenon of “accumulation” of affect), sometimes creating a picture of pathological behavior.
In the European philosophical tradition, the beginning of the study of affects is usually associated with the names of ancient Greek philosophers. In Plato, for example, affects (ardor) are one of the innate beginnings of the soul, located between lust and reason. Domination in the soul of ardor determines the person’s belonging to the class of soldiers (“State“). The position formulated by Plato was fixed in the philosophy of the Middle Ages and the New Times, where the affect was usually interpreted as a lower beginning than the mind, preventing the formation of clear and distinct concepts about the object of cognition.
A significant modernization of the notions of affect occurred at the end. 19 – the beginning of the 20th century in connection with the empirical research of this phenomenon and the development of the French sociological school. E. Durkheim and M. Moss found that the degree of influence of collective representations on the activity and consciousness of an individual depends on the strength and intensity of affections. Lewy-Bruhl’s research in the field of primitive thinking conducted somewhat later showed that for the unconditional domination of universally valid norms and stereotypes, the subordination of the will of the individual to the team in various rituals (initiations, sacrifices), actions that first caused affectation were programmed, and then, with the repetition of the ritual, its fixing.
Studies in the field of religious psychology and clinical trials have shown that various techniques for achieving altered states of consciousness (particularly mystical ones) are also usually associated with affectation. By neutralizing a complex of logical structures and discouraging purposeful rational activity, affectation helps to overcome the threshold of consciousness, the exit from the world of conscious representations into the sphere of the unconscious, from the field of thought forms to the immanent structures of the personality.