In the preceding chapter we spoke of the feeling of energy and certain
of the basic emotions--such as fear, anger, joy, sorrow, disgust, surprise and admiration.
It is important to know that rarely does a man react to any life situation in which the
feeling of energy is not an emotional constituent and governs in a general way that
reaction. Moreover, fear, anger, joy and the other feelings described mingle with this
energy feeling and so are built great systems of the affective life.
1. Courage is one of these systems. It is not merely the absence of fear that
constitutes courage, though we interchange "fearless" with
"courageous." Frequently it is the conquest of fear by the man himself that
leads him to the highest courage. There is a type of courage based on the lack of
imagination, the inability to see ahead the disaster that lurks around every corner. There
is another type of courage based on the philosophy that to lose control of oneself is the
greatest disaster. There are the nobly proud, whose conception of "ought," of
"noblesse oblige," makes them the real aristocrats of the race.
The fierce, the predisposed to anger are usually courageous. Unrestrained anger tends
to break down imagination and foresight; caution disappears and the smallest will attack
the largest. In racial propaganda, one way to arouse courage is to arouse anger. The enemy
is represented as all that is despicable and mean and as threatening the women and
children, religion, or the flag. It is not sufficient to arouse hate, for hate may fear.
While individuals of a fierce type may be cowards, and the gentle often enough are heroes,
the history of the race shows that physical courage resides more with the fierce races
than with the gentle.
Those who feel themselves superior in strength and energy are much more apt to be
courageous than those who feel themselves inferior. In fact, the latter have to force
themselves to courage, whereas the former's courage is spontaneous. Men do not fear to be
alone in a house as women do, largely because men feel themselves equal to coping with
intruders, who are sure to be men, while women do not. One of the early signs of chronic
sickness is a feeling of fear, a loss of courage, based on a feeling of inferiority to
emergencies. The Spartans made it part of that development of courage for which their name
stands, to develop the physique of both their men and women. Their example, in rational
measure, should be followed by all education, for courage is essential to nobility of
character. I emphasize that such training should be extended to both male and female, for
we cannot expect to have a timorous mother efficiently educate her boy to be brave, to say
nothing of the fact that her own happiness and efficiency rest on courage.
Tradition is a mighty factor in the production of courage. To feel that something is
expected of one because one's ancestors lived up to a high standard becomes a guiding
feeling in life. Not to be inferior, not to disappoint expectation, to maintain the
tradition that a "So-and-So" never shows the white feather, makes, heroes of the
soldiers of famous regiments, of firemen and policemen, of priests, of the scions of
distinguished families, aye, even of races. To every man in the grip of a glorious
tradition it seems as if those back of him are not really dead, as if they stand with him,
and speak with his voice and act in his deeds. The doctor who knows of the martyrs of his
profession and knows that in the code of his calling there are no diseases he must
hesitate to face, goes with equanimity where others who are braver in facing death of
other kinds do not dare to enter.
Courage is competitive, courage is cooperative, as is every other phase of the mental
life of men. We gather courage as we watch a fellow worker face his danger with a brave
spirit, for we will not be outdone. Amour propre will not permit us to cringe or give in,
though we are weary to death of a struggle. But also we thrill with a common feeling at
the sight of the hero holding his own, we are enthused by it, we wish to be with him; and
his shining example moves us to a fellowship in courage. We find courage in the belief
that others are "with us," whether that courage faces physical or moral danger.
To be "with" a man is to more than double his resources of strength,
intelligence and courage; it is more than an addition, for it multiplies all his virtues
and eliminates his defects. The sum total is the Hero. I wonder if there really ever has
been a truly lonely hero, if always there has not been some one who said, "I have
faith in you; I am with you!" If a man has lacked human backing, he has said to
himself, "The Highest of all is with me, though I seem to stand alone. God gives me
In a profoundly intellectual way, courage depends on a feeling that one is useful, not
futile. Men lose courage, in the sense of brave and determined effort, when it seems as if
progress has ceased and their place in the world has disappeared. This one sees frequently
in middle-aged men, who find themselves relegated to secondary places by younger men, who
feel that they are slipping and soon will be dependents.
Hope, the foreseeing of a possible success, is necessary for most courage, though now
and then despair acts with a courage that is largely pride. The idea of a future world has
given more courage to man in his difficulties than all other conceptions together, for the
essence of the belief in immortality is to transfer hope and success from the tangle of
this world to the clear, untroubled heavenly other world.
2. Here we must consider other, related qualities. The office of intelligence is to
adjust man to a complex world, to furnish pathways to a goal which instinct perhaps
chooses. Suppose a goal reached,--say marriage is entered upon with the one that we think
is to give us that satisfaction and happiness we long for. The marriage does not so
result, either because we have expected too much, or because the partner falls below a
reasonable expectation, or because contradictory elements in the natures of the wedded
pair cannot be reconciled. Unity is not reached; disunion results, almost, let us say,
from the very start. What happens?
Many adjustments may take place. A crude one is that the pair, after much quarreling,
decide to separate or become divorced, or on a still cruder, ignoble level, one or the
other runs away, deserts the family. A common adjustment, of an anti-social kind, forms
the basis of much of modern and ancient literature; the partners seek compensation
elsewhere, enter into illicit love affairs and maintain a dual existence which rarely is
peaceful or happy. Indeed, the nature of the situation, with outraged conscience and fear
of exposure, prevents happiness.
But there are those who in such a situation do what is known as "make the best of
it." They avoid quarrels, they keep up the pretense of affection, they seek to
discover the good qualities in the mate; they are, as we say, resigned to the situation.
To be resigned is to accept an evil with calmness and equanimity, but without energy.
Resignation and courage are closely related, though the former is a rather pallid member
of the family. The poor and the miserable everywhere practise this virtue; the church has
raised it perforce to the most needed of qualities; it is a sort of policy of
nonresistance to the evils of the world and one's own lot.
But resignation represents only one type of legitimate adjustment, of sublimation. By
sublimation is meant the process of using the energy of a repressed desire and purpose for
some "higher" end. Thus in the case of domestic unhappiness the man may plunge
himself deeply into work and even be unconscious of the source of his energy. This type of
adjustment is thus a form of compensation and is seen everywhere. In the case of many a
woman who gives herself over to her children without stint you may find this sublimation
against the disappearance of romance, even if no actual unhappiness exists. Where a woman
is childless, perforce and not per will, an intense communal activity often develops,
leading to good if that activity is intelligent, leading to harm if it is not. For
sublimation develops the crank and pest as well as the reformer. In every half-baked
reform movement you find those who are striving to sublimate for a thwarted instinct or
 The historian, Higginson, put it well when he said substantially, "There is a
fringe of insanity around all reform."
Sublimation is the mark of the personality that will not admit defeat even to itself.
The one who does admit defeat becomes resigned or seeks illicit compensation,--other men,
other women, drink. Freud and his followers believe that the neurasthenic or hysteric is
striving to find compensation through his symptoms or that he seeks to fly from the
situation that way. I believe that the symptoms of the neurasthenic and hysteric often
find a use in this way, but are not caused by an effort for compensation. That is, a
neurasthenic may learn that his or her pains or aches give advantages in sympathy, relief
from hard tasks or disagreeable situations; that they cover up or are an excuse for
failure and inferiority,--but the symptoms arise originally from defects in character or
because of the physical and social situation. Nevertheless, it is well to keep in mind,
when dealing with the "nervous," that often enough their weaknesses are related
to something they may gain through them. This I have called elsewhere "Will to power
through weakness," and it is as old as Adam and Eve. The weak have their wills and
their weapons as have the strong.
The highest sublimation, in the face of an insuperable obstacle to purpose or an
inescapable life situation, finds a socially useful substitute in philanthropy, kindness,
charity, achievement of all sorts; the lowest seeks it in a direct but illicit
compensation for the self and in a way that merely increases the social and personal
confusion; and a pathological sublimation in part, at least, manifests itself iii
sickness. These are the three leading forms, but it must be remembered that there are no
pure types in character; a man may sublimate nobly when his domestic happiness is
threatened but cheat when his business purposes are blocked; a woman may compensate finely
for childlessness but "go all to pieces" because hair is growing on her face and
the beauty she cherishes must go. Contradictions of all sorts exist, and he is wise who
does not expect too great consistency from himself or others.
3. "Man," says Hocking, "can prolong the vestibule of his desire through
infinity." By the vestibule of desire this philosopher means the deferring of
satisfaction for any impulse or desire. We love, but we can wait for love's fulfillment;
we desire achievement, but we can work and watch the approach of our goal. Something we
desire is directly ahead, almost in our reach,-- fame, love, riches, vindication, anything
you please from the sensuous to the sublime satisfaction; and then an obstacle, a delay,
appears, and the vestibule is lengthened out. A man may even plan for the satisfaction he
can never hope to have, and in his greatest ideal that vestibule reaches through eternity.
That quality which enables a man to work and wait, to stand the deferring of hope and
desire, is patience. The classic figure of patience sitting on a monument is wrong, for
she must sit on the eager desires of man. Nor is patience only the virtue of the good and
farseeing, for we find patience in the rogue and schemer. Altruists may be patient or
impatient, and so may be the selfish. Like most of the qualities, patience is to be judged
by the company it keeps.
Nevertheless, the impatient are very often those of small purposes and are rarely those
of great achievement. For all great purposes have to be spread over time, have to overcome
obstacles, and these must be met with courage and patience. Impatience is fussiness,
fretfulness and a prime breeder of neurasthenia. Patience is realistic, and though it may
seek perfection it puts up with imperfection as a part of human life. But here I am
drifting into an error against which I warned the reader,--of making an entity of a
conception. People are patient or impatient, but not necessarily throughout. There are men
and women who fuss and fume over trifles who never falter or fret when their larger
purposes are blocked or deferred. Some cannot stand detail who plan wisely and with
patience. Vice versa, there are meticulous folk, little people, whose petty obstacles are
met with patience and cheerfulness, who revel in minute detail, but who want returns soon
and cannot wait a long time. We are not to ask of any man whether he is patient but rather
what does he stand or do patiently? What renders him impatient?
A form of impatience of enormous social importance is that which manifests itself in
cure-alls. A man finds that his will overcomes some obstacles. Eager to apply this, he
announces that will cures all ills. Impatient of evil, men seek to annihilate it by
denying its existence or by loudly chanting that good thoughts will destroy it. These are
typical impatient solutions in the sphere of religion; in the sphere of economics men urge
nationalization, free trade, socialism or laissez faire, or some law or other to change
social structure and human nature. War itself is the most impatient and consequently most
socially destructive method of the methods of the treatment of evil.
While patience is a virtue, it may also be a vice. One may bear wrongs too patiently or
defer satisfaction too long. One meets every day men and women who help injustice and
iniquity by their patience. We are too patient, at least with the wrongs of others;
perhaps we really do not feel this intensely or for any length of time. In fact, the
difficulty with most of the preaching of life is its essential insincerity, for it
counsels patience for that which it feels but little. We bear the troubles of others, on
the whole, very well. Nevertheless, there are Griseldas everywhere whom one would respect
far more if they rebelled against their tyrants and taskmasters. Organized wrong and
oppression owe their existence mainly to the habitual patience of the oppressed. To be
meek and mild and long-suffering in a world containing plenty of egoists and cannibalistic
types is to give them supremacy. We admire patience only when it is part of a plan of
action, not when it is the mark of a passive nature.
 Here the ideals of East and West clash. The East, bearing a huge burden of misery
and essentially pessimistic, exhorts patience. The West, eager and full of hope, is
4. Because man foresees he wishes. Rather than the reasoning animal, we might speak of
the human being as the wishing animal. An automatically working instinct would produce no
wish. The image of something which has been experienced arouses an excitement akin to the
secretion of saliva at the thought of food. The wish which accompanies the excitement is a
dissatisfaction, a tingling, an incomplete pleasurable emotional state which presses to
action. Sensuous pleasure, power, conformity to the ideal, whatever direction the wish
takes, are sought because of the wish. Right education is to train towards right wishing.
Because the wish is the prelude to action, it became all powerful in mythology and
superstition. Certain things would help you get your wishes, others would obstruct them.
Wishes became animate and had power,--power to destroy an enemy, power to help a friend,
power to bring good to yourself. But certain ceremonies had to be observed, and certain
people, magicians and priests had to be utilized in order to give the wish its power.
Wisdom and magic were mainly the ways of obtaining wishes. Childhood still holds to this,
and prayer is a faith that your wish, if placed before the All-Mighty, will be fulfilled.
Since wishing brings a pleasurable excitement, it has its dangers, in the daydream
where wishes are fulfilled without effort. Power, glory, beauty and admiration are
obtained; the ugly Duckling becomes the Swan, Cinderella becomes the Princess, Jack kills
the Giant and is honored by all men; the girl becomes the beauty and heroine of romance;
the boy becomes the Hero, taking over power, wealth and beauty as his due. The world of
romance is largely the wish-world, as is the most of the stage. The happy ending is our
wish-fulfillment, and only the sophisticated and highly cultured object to it. Moulding
the world to the heart's desire has been the principal business of stage, novel and song.
In the normal relations of life, the wish is the beginning of will, as something
definitely related to a future goal. He who wishes finds his way to planning and to
patient endeavor, IF training, circumstances and essential character meet. To wish much is
the first step in acquiring much,--but only the first step. For many it is almost the only
step, and in the popular phrase these have a "wishbone in the place of a
backbone." They are the daydreamers, the inveterate readers of novels, who carry into
adult life what is relatively normal in the child. The introspective are this latter type;
rarely indeed do the objective personalities spend much time in wishing. Undoubtedly it is
from the introspective that the wish as a symbol and worker of power gained its influence
and meaning. This transformation of the wish to a power is found in all primitive thought,
in the power of the blessing and the curse, in the delusions of certain of the insane who
build up the belief in their greatness out of the wish to be great; and in our days New
Thought and kindred beliefs are modernized forms of this ancient fallacy.
It is a comforting thought to those who seek an optimistic point of view that most men
wish to do right. Very few, indeed, deliberately wish to do wrong. But the difficulty lies
in this, that this wish to do right camouflages all their wishes, no matter what their
essential character. Thus the contestants on either side of any controversy color as right
their opposing wishes, and cruelties even if they burn people at the stake for heresy,
kill and ruin, degrade and cheat, lie and steal. Thus has arisen the dictum, "The end
justifies the means." The good desired hallows the methods used, and all kinds of
evil have resulted. Practical wisdom believes that up to a certain point you must seek
your purpose with all the methods at hand. But the temptation to go farther always
operates; a man starts to do something a little underhanded in behalf of his noble wish
and finds himself committed to conduct unqualifiedly evil.
5. There are certain other emotional states associated with energy and the energy
feeling of great interest. What we call eagerness, enthusiasm, passion, refers to the
intensity of an instinct, wish, desire or purpose. In childhood this energy is quite
striking; it is one of the great charms of childhood and is a trait all adults envy. For
it is the disappearance of passion, eagerness and enthusiasm that is the tragedy of old
age and which really constitutes getting old. Youth anticipates with eagerness and
relishes with keen satisfaction. The enthusiasm of typical youth is easily aroused and
sweeps it on to action, a feature called impulsiveness. Sympathy, pity, hope, sex
feeling--all the self-feelings and all the other feelings--are at once more lively and
more demonstrative in youth, and thus it is that in youth the reform spirit is at its
height and recedes as time goes on. What we call "experience" chills enthusiasm
and passion, but though hope deferred and a realization of the complexity of human affairs
has a moderating, inhibiting result, there is as much or more importance to be attached to
bodily changes. If you could attach to the old man's experience and knowledge the body of
youth, with its fresher arteries, more resilient muscles and joints, its exuberant glands
and fresh bodily juices,--desire, passion, enthusiasm would return. In the chemistry of
life, passion and enthusiasm arise; sickness, fatigue, experience and time are their
This is not to deny that these energy manifestations can be aroused from the outside.
That is the purpose of teaching and preaching; the purpose of writer and orator. There is
a social spread of enthusiasm that is the most marked feature of crowds and assemblies,
and this eagerness makes a unit of thousands of diverse personalities. Further, the
problem of awakening enthusiasm and desire is the therapeutic problem of the physician and
especially in the condition described as anhedonia.
In anhedonia, as first described by Ribot, mentioned by James, and which has recently
been worked up by myself as a group of symptoms in mental and nervous disease, as well as
in life in general, there is a characteristic lack of enthusiasm in anticipation and
realization, a lack of appetite and desire, a lack of satisfaction. Nothing appeals, and
the values drop out of existence. The victims of anhedonia at first pass from one
"pleasure" to another, hoping each will please and satisfy, but it does not.
Food, drink, work, play, sex, music, art,--all have lost their savor. Restless,
introspective, with a feeling of unreality gripping at his heart, the patient finds
himself confronting a world that has lost meaning because it has lost enthusiasm in desire
How does this unhappy state arise? In the first place, from the very start of life
people differ in the quality of eagerness. There is a wide variability in these qualities.
Of two infants one will call lustily for whatever he wants, show great glee in
anticipating, great eagerness in seeking, and a high degree of satisfaction when his
desire is gratified. And another will be lackadaisical in his appetite, whimsical,
"hard to please" and much more difficult to keep pleased. Fatigue will strip the
second child of the capacity to eat and sleep, to say nothing of his desires for social
pleasures, whereas it will only dampen the zeal and eagerness of the first child. There is
a hearty simple type of person who is naively eager and enthusiastic, full of desire,
passion and enthusiasm, who finds joy and satisfaction in simple things, whose purposes do
not grow stale or monotonous; there is a finicky type, easily displeased and dissatisfied,
laying weight on trifles, easily made anhedonic, victims of any reduction in their own
energy (which is on the whole low) or of any disagreeable event. True, these sensitive
folk are creators of beauty and the esthetic, but also they are the victims of the malady
we are here discussing.
Aside from this temperament, training plays its part. I think it a crime against
childhood to make its joys complex or sophisticated. Too much adult company and adult
amusements are destructive of desire and satisfaction to the child. A boy or girl whose
wishes are at once gratified gets none of the pleasure of effort and misses one of the
essential lessons of life.--that pleasure and satisfaction must come from the chase and
not from the quarry, from the struggle and effort as well as from the goal. Montaigne,
that wise skeptic, lays much homely emphasis on this, as indeed all wise men do. But too
great a struggle, too desperate an effort, exhausts, and as a runner lies panting and
motionless at the tape, so we all have seen men reach a desired place after untold
privation and sacrifice and who then found that there seemed to be no energy, no zeal or
desire, no satisfaction left for them. The too eager and enthusiastic are exposed, like
all the overemotional, to great recessions, great ebbs, in the volume of their feeling and
feel for a time the direst pain in all experience, the death in life of anhedonia.
After an illness, particularly influenza, when recovery has seemingly taken place,
there develops a lack of energy feeling and the whole syndrome of anhedonia which lasts
until the subtle damage done by the disease passes off. Half or more of the
"nervousness" in the world is based on actual physical trouble, and the rest
relates to temperament.
When a great purpose or desire has been built up, has drained all the enthusiasm of the
individual and then suddenly becomes blocked, as in a love affair, or when a business is
threatened or crashes or when beauty starts to leave,--then one sees the syndrome of
anhedonia in essential purity. A great fear, or an obsessive moral struggle (as when one
fights hopelessly against temptation), has the same effect. The enthusiasm of purpose and
the eagerness of appetite go at once, in certain delicate people, when pride is seriously
injured or when a once established superiority is crumbled. The humiliated man is
anhedonic, even if he is a philosopher.
The most striking cases are seen in men who have been swung from humdrum existence to
the exciting, disagreeable life of war and then back to their former life. The former task
cannot be taken up or is carried on with great effort; the zest of things has disappeared,
and what was so longed for while in the service seems flat and stale, especially if it is
now realized that there are far more interesting fields of effort. In a lesser degree, the
romances that girls feed on unfit them for sober realities, and the expectation of
marriage built up by romantic novel and theater do far more harm than good. The triangle
play or story is less mischievous than the one which paints married life as an amorous
One could write a volume on eagerness, enthusiasm and passion, satisfaction and
dissatisfaction. Life, to be worth the living, must have its enthusiasms, must swing
constantly from desire to satisfaction, or else seems void and painful. Great purposes are
the surest to maintain enthusiasm, little purposes become flat. He who hitches his wagon
to a star must risk indeed, but there is a thrill to his life outweighing the joy of minor
To reenthuse the apathetic is an individual problem. When the lowered pressure of the
energy feeling is physical in origin, then rest and exercise, massage hydrotherapy,
medicines (especially the bitter tonics), change of scene are valuable. And even where the
cause is not in illness, these procedures have great value for in stimulating the organism
the function of enthusiasm is recharged. But one does not neglect the value of new hopes,
new interests, friendship, physical pleasure and above all a new philosophy, a philosophy
based on readjustment and the nobility of struggle. Not all people can thus be reached,
for in some, perhaps many cases, the loss of these desires is the beginning of mental
disease, but patient effort and intelligent sympathetic understanding still work their