Harmonious or Obsessive Passion

Passion Meter:  Dull, Harmonious, ObsessiveThough the concept of passion may be new in theoretical psychology, it is by no means a new topic.  Philosophers like Plato (429-347 BC) and Spinoza (1632-1677 AC) referred to passion as a maladaptive loss of reason.  On the contrary, Hegel (1770-1831 AC) referred to passion as having adaptive, useful functions (Vallerand, 2012).  Vallerand adapted these two ideologies to create a dualistic psychological model of passion, where passion is classified as either being harmonious or obsessive.  Harmonious passion affords feelings of joy or happiness both during the activity, and after. Obsessive passion, on the other hand, leads to personal feelings of joy only during the activity, but not after; a person with obsessive passion operates with social acceptance and self-esteem contingencies attached to the activity (Vallerand, 2012), and may exhibit remorse or shame. These people have uncontrollable urges to partake in activities they deem enjoyable.  “They cannot help but engage in the passionate activity, as the passion comes to control them”(p. 47). Conversely, persons with harmonious passion are intrinsically motivated to engage in an activity autonomously; they are not coerced or pressured, or acting out of a need for social acceptance or desire for an external incentive.  Individuals are motivated to engage in activities of passion because “…an autonomous internalization occurs when individuals have freely accepted the activity willingly and engenders a sense of volition and personal endorsement about pursuing activity” (p. 47).

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