Refractory Emotional State

Quick Definition: A period during which we reject any signals contradictory to our current emotional state.

Full Definition:

According to psychologist Dr. Paul Ekman, a refractory emotional state is a period of time which accompanies an emotion, during which our mind rejects or ignores any reasonable interpretations or advice that isn’t congruent with our own view points. While still in the refractory period, we are unable to think clearly or appreciate alternate view points or interpretations that well meaning people may offer.

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For example, when a person is angry and is still in a refractory state, it can be a fool’s errand trying to calm them down or reason with them. You can try to apologize or explain to them or try telling them that whatever they are angry about isn’t a big deal; they might even have thoughts themselves that their anger is unwarranted and that they should calm down. But while still in the refractory state they will decide that their anger is in fact justified and that therefore they should keep being angry. Most refractory states last only a few seconds and can actually be beneficial. For instance, if someone points a gun at you and then smiles, your refractory state would insulate your emotion of fear from being manipulated and help protect you. But problems start to arise when a refractory state lasts for more than a few seconds and continues on for hours or even days.

As a pickup artist it is important to be aware of your refractory states because they can distort your perceptions of the world around you and yourself. Say for instance you are rejected while approaching a beautiful woman. You will most likely feel disappointed and ashamed at yourself for your presumed failure, and this is quite normal. But if you let yourself be bogged down by a drawn out refractory state, you will prevent yourself from realizing that this once incident is not a reflection of your worth as a human being and you will be unable to move on.


His prolonged refractory emotional states made it impossible for him to deal with his troubles effectively. 

Related Terms:

Positive Feedback Loop, Negative Feedback Loop, Emotional Resilience, State Control, State Change

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