An evil wizard holds you at gunpoint and requires you to choose one of the following emotions to lose forever. You will not feel the faintest trace of it ever again. Which do you pick?



Mildly surprised by the results of this poll, given that it’s a dead heat between the three for me. I suppose it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that shame wins, since it is in some ways a very social emotion, and how others perceive us (and our worries about how they perceive us) occupies a lot of our thoughts. But though I would gladly dispense with all three emotions, if I somehow could, a small sense of shame seems the most useful, since it is at least sometimes a useful key to whether others might be put off or annoyed by our actions.


I’m confused by the idea that this is an evil wizard. Losing shame and losing anger both seem clearly net positive to me?


oh wow. fear and shame both seem straightforwardly useful to me in a way that anger does not


“What could possibly go wrong with losing my sense of shame,” I say five minutes before shitting myself in public


There was a woman born with a congenital condition that prevents her feeling fear interviewed on, I think Radiolab a while back; something that struck me about the interview was that feeling no fear didn’t interfere with her life 99% of the time; it certainly didn’t make her more inclined to play in traffic as a kid or anything. Her cognitive ability to predict and avoid harm was perfectly intact. They did indicate (though did not really detail) that there were a handful of occasions in her life where a lack of being able to feel fear led her into riskier situations, but this was more akin to what a naive or trusting person might experience–if anything, someone who feels no fear would be less likely to be, say, an adrenaline junkie who takes risks because they experience a fear response in a particular way.

I think if you were cognitively normal except unable to experience shame, you probably wouldn’t shit your pants more often in public (so to speak); you would retain your ability to predict which situations might cause you to accrue negative social capital and to avoid them. I think a lot of what fear and shame (and all our other emotions do) is help us cache those calculations, or reinforce the desire to avoid behaviors, but we don’t depend on them to act like, in basically sane and rational ways. If you had no trace of shame I do expect your behavior would be at least a little different, unless it was really working hard to restrain some deeply unpopular compulsion, but I don’t think it would actively incentivize acting in weird ways.


more than anything else this poll made me feel perplexed about how different I am than others. I picked anger because it seems, like, really obviously the best choice, but it’s the least popular! Shame and fear are both defensive emotions, in the sense that they’re designed to protect you from threats, but anger is largely an offensive emotion; I’m much more concerned about compromising my defensive capabilities than my offensive ones, since society doesn’t feel like the kind of situation where you can just plow through everything with a strong preemptive assault. I think maybe the square-jawed dynastic banker guys can pull that off, which is why they do so much cocaine? But it’s not, like, usual. Having no sense of anger feels much safer than the other two.

I suppose the results are complicated by people’s individual tendencies, though, too. Someone who has way too much of a particular thing would probably be biased to get rid of it, so at least some of this might be that the reclusive tunnel-dwellers of Tumblr have more fear and shame than anger on the balance.


Anger is absolutely a useful, load-bearing element of my life. It’s motive, in a way that the others are not; it’s one of the basic things that distinguishes between the world I live in and the world as I want it to be. Reducing that better world to a mere ‘would be nice’ is… extremely disturbing to me.

So I guess I can agree that it’s ‘safer’ to get rid of anger, in that it’s not likely to result in dangerous situations for you or anybody else. But it’s also a life of extreme complacency, in a way that’s directly counter to many of my core values. Without anger, there’s no sense of unfairness; without unfairness, there’s no aspiration to justice. Most notably, I really hate death, to the point of being slightly loony about it- without that, I’m fairly sure my baseline personality would look very different.

Man, reading this thread makes me feel like one of those colourblind people wondering why people are making such a big deal about subtle variations in shades of brownish-gray.

I read through the notes, and almost *every* example that *every* person brings up for *every* emotion on this list parses as fear to me.

I’m reblogging this particular version primarily because of how surprising it is to see someone describe the-painful-awareness-of-the-gap-between-how-the-world-is-and-how-it-ought-to-be as *anger*, when as I experience it…okay, some of it is disgust† and a fair bit of it is simply pain (which is not exactly an emotion per se), but the rest is basically a *central example* of fear to me.

By the time I saw this post it was too late to vote on it, but I’d have gone with anger. I can’t say I’d be *fully* comfortable with “dealing with my inability to (safely, ethically, etc) satisfy my bloodlust†† by cutting it out of my soul”, but I have to admit it *would* be the most practical approach.

(I’m not going with shame because I absolutely do not understand what it would mean to cut out shame but leave fear intact, and I’m not fucking with that. At least there is *a* thing that it would mean to me to cut out anger while leaving the others, even if I’m not drawing that line in the same place as anyone else.)

†shitting myself in public would *also* be disgust, BTW: shitting myself in private does not seem like it would be significantly less unpleasant modulo bathroom access

††I cannot *begin* to wrap my head around what “non-violent anger” would be like as a quale, I suppose next you’re going to tell me eths can be placed at the ends of syllables


#this also happens a lot when people are talking about sadness #reply via reblog #is the blue I see the same as the blue you see #anger management #surveys #unsanitary cw #violence cw? #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what

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