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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Gorman

In-Between Emotions: Anger and Joy, a Psychopathic Combination

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Anger: the epitome of hatred and hostility. It burns through one's veins and yearns to release eager fists and non-revocable words. Snarling lips, bared teeth, lowered brows, and wide eyes warn those around of a primal instinct to lash out verbally and physically.

Joy: the epitome of delight and elation. It emerges during witty jokes, accidental stumbles, and times of great news. It throws one's head back in laughter and causes stomachs to hurt. It flows from ear to ear, gently pillowing the cheeks, closing one's eyes, and creating crows feet. The upper-teethed smiles invite those around in on the joke and releases dopamine.

Now, can these two complete opposite emotions be combined? Yes, they can and have been combined to produce a sinister biproduct used in many thriller movies: the psychopathic smile.

Why is this psychopathic smile unsettling?

When one is angry, they are not happy. Upset individuals frown, scorn, but never smile.

Happy individuals, similarly, are absent of the negative emotions listed above. They smile, laugh, but never frown or scorn. While a smile is inviting, the wide eyed, furrowed brow of an angry person is not. The latter holds more visual weight in this complex expression, as one does not want to approach a hostile person. Perhaps this desire to distance oneself from an individual who finds joy whilst angry explains why this is the expression of a crazy person- one of a psychopathic killer who thrives on violence and committing evil. The combination of polar opposite emotions create frightening, but wonderful visual interest in movies and art.

The image above is my self portrait completed this year in oil paint. I combined two polar opposite emotions and I am pleased with the rather off-putting result.

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