Am reading an interesting book right now, Prisoners of hate : the cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence. By Aaron Beck, who I guess is considered the founder of cognitive psychology. I come upon things in the process of buying books for the library, lucky me.
Surprised to find it shedding light from a certain angle on the pathology of (sub)literary polemics, my own in particular within the larger scene of same.
Also struck by similarity between Beck's architecture of cognition/emotion, and the way that Elder Olson, in one of his Chicago-critic essays, analyzed the dynamics and effects of poetry, especially dramatic poetry. He describes there how a drama, by depicting or shaping a certain limited set of images or representations (logos), first affects the opinion or judgement of the audience about what they are witnessing : and then that opinion, that cognitive assessment of the image or scene (ethos), triggers the audience's emotional response (pathos).
I'm just getting into Beck's book, but the introduction describes his research into the elusive, peripheral thoughts of his patients - the thoughts they don't even recognize enough to share in psychoanalysis : thoughts which, paradoxically, frame & direct more overt behavior (often defense mechanisms or delusions). These are sort of protective thoughts, guarding the perimeter of the egocentric self - which if damaged or vulnerable, result in fantastic forms of intellectual & behavioral over-reactions. As in the audience's "judgement" of a drama's events, these very primitive ego-protective cognitions - survival mechanisms - trigger (or at least contribute to) feelings, emotions.
The book is sort of a summary of Beck's decades of research. He tries to show how the personal pathologies are seamlessly linked with mass social & political disturbances & afflictions. But I'm only on the first pages.