The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty - 154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel - Tiffany Watt Smith 2016


The more reason deters us from the brink the more impetuously we approach it.

—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Imp of the Perverse”

It’s senseless. It’s bloody-minded. To ignore our bank statements, or let the dishes fester, or go out drinking when a deadline looms. We know we’re the only ones who’ll suffer for it. Yet, in that moment of perverse triumph, it’s hard to miss the swagger in our step.

Fifty years before Freud would trace such wayward desires to the murky depths of the subconscious, the American master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe came up with an even more tantalizing idea: a mischievous demon called the Imp of the Perverse. It’s this imp who lures us into the most self-destructive of acts, tempting us to ignore our responsibilities, or tricking us into confessing our crimes, or leading us to the edge of the precipice and urging us to jump…

For other imps who implant emotions, see: ACEDIA and TERROR.

For other reasons to leap, see: L’APPEL DU VIDE and LITOST.