BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Visualising pain: psychotherapy, emotion and embodied cognition in Seneca’s Letters

    Edwards, Catharine (2021) Visualising pain: psychotherapy, emotion and embodied cognition in Seneca’s Letters. Classical Antiquity 40 (2), pp. 221-248. ISSN ‎0278-6656.

    [img] Text
    31441.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript
    Restricted to Repository staff only

    Download (360kB) | Request a copy
    [img] Text
    31441a.pdf - Published Version of Record
    Restricted to Registered users only

    Download (199kB) | Request a copy


    Although Seneca often expresses a disdain for the body, vividly detailed evocations of bodily experience feature frequently in his writing. In particular he presents the repeated imagining of pain and suffering (praemeditatio futurorum malorum) as an important psychotherapeutic technique. This strategy should be seen in the context of Stoic theories of perception and the embodied nature of emotion (theories which resonate in significant respects with findings in cognitive neuroscience). Yet Seneca’s approach is also profoundly coloured by a perception of the relationship between imagination and emotion which lies at the heart of ancient rhetorical theory. While anticipating future misfortunes is sometimes presented as a means to dull anxiety, a means to cultivate stereotypically Stoic impassivity by rooting out negative emotions, Seneca also highlights the power of the vividly imagined scene of suffering to stimulate an ardent love of virtue, a positive emotion which plays a crucial role in the moral progress of the would-be Stoic.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Catharine Edwards
    Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2021 05:57
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:58


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item