Attention and Affection
The reflection on attention here proposed takes its cue from clinical experience with some young patients who came to therapy due to having difficulty concentrating in their studies. Starting from Jung’s reflections on the two forms of thinking, it is underlined how, in these clinical cases, attention was “captured” by the affective world, rather than being addressed towards an object. Jung’s idea of a polarity of thought – in which, on the one pole, attention is directed to the external world and, on the other, is “captured” by the internal world – allows us to understand the importance of affection as a motivational drive. The lack of attention is therefore seen not as a cognitive problem, but as an emotional discomfort. The close connection between feelings and attention, as well as the role that perception plays in attention, is further articulated through the thought of several philosophers such as Masullo, Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur and Waldenfels. Following the thread of their reflections, this paper shows how the difficulty of these young people to direct attention to their studies does not depend on will, but on an affective recognition. When this recognition is lacking, the individual is captured by a fantasy world rather than the world in which we project ourselves.
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