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    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.

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    Abstract

    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.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Catharine Edwards
    Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2021 05:57
    Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:34
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/31441

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