"Emotion is an expression of the self," Verena Kast writes in this ground-breaking study of the neglected emotions of joy, inspiration, and hope. If we decide we no longer want to hide behind empty shells, then we will have to allow certain emotions more room. We will have to let ourselves laugh louder, cry louder, and shout for joy.
Kast skillfully and engagingly makes the case that not only therapists and analysts but also individuals seeking growth in their own lives should give more attention to the elated emotions. Fear of excess (mania) and analytic preoccupation with grief, anxiety, and depression have together caused joy and hope to be shunned as a focus in individuation (the process toward wholeness).
Kast convincingly demonstrates the role of joy in relationship and existential involvement. Joy answers the human need for elated feeling and meaning in our lives, a need which is often filled in modern society by secularized parodies of religious ecstasy, such as addiction and compulsiveness. Kast explores the Dionysian myth as an archetypal image of the transforming effect of ecstasy on the personality. She considers Sisyphus, the absurd hero of French existentialism, as the symbol for rejection of false hope and joy, rejection which clears the way for true hope rooted in basic trust and the positive mother archetype. She suggests simple techniques for recapturing our joy through development of an autobiography of joy. Using this approach, we can discover what gives us joy personally, how we can best experience joy, and how and why we choke off our joy. By viewing joy, inspiration, and hope as core emotions in our being, we open ourselves to greater wholeness and fuller life.