What are AFFLICTIVE EMOTIONS: list and examples

  • Jul 26, 2021
What are afflictive emotions: list and examples

The key to human happiness lies in the mind and, in particular, in having a mind in balance. In the same way, in the mind are the primary obstacles to happiness, that which unbalances us. Without a doubt, the thing that takes us out the most, the greatest obstacle to well-being and have a satisfying life in every way, it is the persistent propensities towards certain emotions. Specifically, towards those that can be considered as destructive or distressing. Such emotions are the true enemies of human happiness and the source of all destructive behaviors.

In this Psychology-Online article, we tell you what are afflictive emotions and we provide you with a list and examples from the same.

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  1. What are afflictive emotions?
  2. Difference between afflictive and constructive emotions
  3. List and examples of afflictive emotions
  4. How to modify afflictive emotions?

What are afflictive emotions?

Afflictive emotions are those mental and emotional states

what short, medium and long term reduce well-being. They are characterized by generating internal turmoil, cloud understanding and deprive us of freedom to think and act. Destructive emotions affect behavior and the way you feel and interpret what happens.

If you wonder what afflictive emotions are and what they provoke, you should know that they cloud our ability to discern. With them we are unable to make a rational judgment, they rob us freedom to think clearly and act constructively.

Any state of mind can become afflictive and it is necessary to make ourselves aware of it when it occurs. There are emotional states that are destructive in themselves and others that become destructive only when an intensity is disproportionate to the situation in which they arise. The common or distinctive features of afflictive emotions are that generate discomfort, distort our perception and they limit our thinking.

Difference between afflictive and constructive emotions.

The difference between afflictive and constructive emotions lies in the effect they have on our mind. On the one hand, a constructive emotion is one that makes us feel calm and that leads us to act in beneficial ways. These emotions help us build a lasting pool of personal physical, intellectual, social, and psychological resources.

On the contrary, the difference between afflictive and non-afflictive emotions is that the former put us in a downward spiral and that the latter strengthen our resilience. In this article, we tell you how to build resilience in children and adults.

So if a constructive emotion like love gets out of balance and stop contributing to well-being, it can easily turn into a distressing emotion like obsessive desire. Therefore, positive emotions can also be relative and changeable, not necessarily constructive in and of themselves.

List and examples of afflictive emotions.

What are afflictive emotions? Next, we will see a list of afflictive emotions with examples of them.


Anger is characterized by an exaggerated repulsion towards people, objects, or circumstances. Specifically, group these examples of afflictive emotions:

  • Irritation.
  • Go to. Discover how to control anger.
  • Agitation.
  • Hate.
  • Enmity.
  • Malice.


Attachment is characterized by an exaggerated sense of attraction to people, objects, or circumstances. Let's see what 5 examples of afflictive emotions attachment includes:

  • Avarice.
  • Lust.
  • Obsessive desire.
  • Craving.
  • Jealousy.

Envy, Pride and Doubt

These involve a mixture of excessive attraction on the one hand, such as excessive attachment to an exaggerated image of ourselves, such as in the case of pride, and on the other hand, an excessive repulsion, such as the excessive sense of enmity towards a rival in the case of envy.

On the one hand, the envy contains a strong element of the afflictive emotions of attraction and repulsion. Pride or haughtiness includes destructive attitudes such as arroganceUnrealistic, obsessive shame, and also a mixture of attraction and repulsion. Finally, doubt, which encompasses destructive emotions such as anxiety or obsessive guilt.

How to modify afflictive emotions?

Buddhist psychology holds the theory that people can actively challenge and modify afflictive emotions. A classic Buddhist formulation states that there are 84,000 afflictive emotions, for which there are as many antidotes. In fact, Buddhism measures well-being to the extent that our mind is dominated by afflictive emotions. The ideal of mental health in Buddhist psychology is that all afflictive emotions are replaced by healthy ones.

How to modify afflictive emotions? One of the main strategies is cultivate a state of mind opposed to afflictive emotions. The basic principle is that a positive state of mind tends to stifle or suppress the corresponding distressing emotion: where one is, the other cannot exist at the same time. Every distressing emotion has a positive corresponding that can substitute for it in a healthy way: anger, for example, can be alleviated by loveArrogance by reflecting on humility and equanimity is a good antidote to agitation.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to What are afflictive emotions: list and examples, we recommend that you enter our category of Emotions.


  • Bennet, T., Goleman, D. (2012). Emotional alchimia. Eat the mind può curare il cuore. Milan: Bur.
  • Chernicoff Minsberg, L., Labra, D., Rodríguez Morales, E. (2016). Work and live in balance. Transforming the workplace through internal change. How to work with emotions: Self-knowledge and Self-regulation. Mexico City: Sincerely, Consultores.
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