It may be quite a surprise to hear that you have an innate emotion which you never knew existed, and this is not because it has little influence – contrariwise – but because the effects of its influence are largely misconstrued as being products of the the human intellect alone.
We experience this emotion in a very similar way to another of our psychological mechanisms, ‘fear’. Like fear this emotion is also excitable, compulsive, varying in intensity, socialised and attached to aspects of the world around us from infancy onwards. And like fear it ignites our imagination into a flurry thoughts and fantasies. But while ‘fear’ is an instinct of avoidance – a deep seated sense of ‘dread’ – this is a drive to generate ‘appreciation’; an abstract sense of ‘specialness’ which can be perceived as being attainable.
This sense of ‘specialness’ will be familiar to you as feelings experienced around ‘glamour’, ‘romanticism’, ‘spirituality’ and religion, childhood nostalgia, and perhaps the excitement felt on first meeting a movie star. But the ways we sense this influence in our own obsessions with ‘status’, and the compulsive fantasy notions which fuel our ‘envy’, gives us a clearer idea of the primary function of this drive. This is an evolved mechanism that motivates animals to compete among themselves, providing the selective rivalry, the deference and submission to status, which are essential for their systems of hierarchy to operate effectively. And as communal mammals ourselves, we have inherited this emotion; an empty illusion, a trick of the mind which the highly creative human intellect has embellished into complex and grandiose concepts; indulging it, rather than endeavouring to understand – thus remaining under its control.