Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human features to non-human things. It is a way for the mind to change its perception. Thinking of negative emotions as people can help one feel less angry or sad, by assigning them human characteristics. This act of imagination promotes compassion, forgiveness, and understanding of the emotions themselves, changing perceptions and reactions to life’s toughest emotions.
A study published in The Journal of Consumer Psychology found that when sadness is thought of as a person, the individual feels less sadness afterward. In the study, researchers asked participants in one group to think of emotions as people, while the other group was asked to think of the emotions themselves and their impacts. Participants who thought of sadness as a person saw an old, gray-haired person or a young child holding their head down and walking slowly. Participants reported that they felt lower levels of sadness after thinking of the emotion as a person. Consequently, the same result is reported with happiness, in which anthropomorphic thinking lessens happiness. Therefore, anthropomorphic thinking leads to a feeling of detachment from the emotion itself and should be used exclusively for negative emotions. Feeling detached from positive emotions is not a path to mental wellness or mood improvement.
Furthermore, anthropomorphism may be used to detach oneself from negative emotions related to oneself or even a loved one who may be battling addiction. The research points to changing perception through imagination. For example, thinking of the person or self as a child may elicit feelings of compassion and forgiveness since it is harder to be disappointed or mad at a child than an adult. Perception is reality, and we have the power to mold it. As a result, you can mentally change the form of emotion itself through anthropomorphism.
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects both the mind and the body, therefore impacting family, friends, work ethic, and many other aspects of life. Negative perceptions of addiction can alter its development and the path towards recovery. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to recovery. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges, accept their present state, and foster hope for their future.