“Disappointment can be a strong emotion, and it intensifies feelings of contempt and the possibility of conflict.”
Previous section: “Feelings of Inequity”
Today’s section from Descending into War, Descending into Contempt, pp. 12-14:
Feelings of Disappointment
Disappointment is a feeling that afflicts from an early age, and no one is immune from its appearance. The growth process is accelerated when people work through feelings of disappointment. It is not a negative emotion when it is a catalyst for appreciation and adaptation.
Sometimes, disappointment is an accelerator of despair. Disappointment with despair is more difficult to overcome, but when they have been faced and handled, the growth process continues. When they are not handled, the disappointment can underlie future responses to ordinary happenings. When despair is mixed with feelings of inequity and with inaction to change the situation, the feelings of disappointment can increase the likelihood of conflicts.
Disappointment on its own lowers vigor. When disappointment is accompanied by feelings of inequity, of violation, or of injury, desire for revenge or sabotage can foment.
Disappointment at the group level (two or more people), which comes from the feeling of having received unfair treatment, waits for a trigger that will either direct towards dismissal of the urge to act (restraint) or release restraint towards action (positive or negative). The release of restraint can unite group members or create disunity, because each group member experiences disappointment differently.
Disappointment can also be an accelerator of demoralization. When this situation happens, the strength of disappointment overcomes surety of self and challenges courage. Courage is needed when envisioning possible disasters and when immersed in challenging feats. Disappointment dampens courage, and then when courage is needed, it (courage) is less commanding.
The other contributors to conflict—feelings of superiority, feelings of inequity, and feelings of emasculation—are intensified when disappointment accelerates feelings of despair or demoralization. Disappointment can be a strong emotion, and it intensifies feelings of contempt and the possibility of conflict.
Next section: “Feelings of Emasculation”