affect(redirected from Flat affect)
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an emotional state that is characterized by a turbulent and relatively short course (rage, anger, horror, and so forth). The manifestation of affect is linked with sharply expressed changes both in the autonomous motor sphere (inhibition or overexcitation and disorder in the coordination of movement) and in the sphere of vegetative reactions (change of pulse and breathing, spasms of the peripheral blood vessels, the appearance of so-called cold sweat, and so forth). Affect can disturb the normal course of the higher psychic processes of perception and thinking and can cause a decrease in consciousness or its loss. Under certain conditions, negative affect can be fixated in the memory in the form of so-called affective complexes. These traces of past affective states can become reactivated in the present under the influence of irritants associated with the situation that caused the affect. Another important peculiarity of affect is that with the repetition of a negative affect which is caused by the same factor or analogous factors, its manifestation can be reinforced (the phenomenon of “accumulation” of affect), sometimes creating the impression of pathological conduct. The presence of strong affective states in a person at the time when he commits an action is regarded by the law as a circumstance that decreases the degree of his responsibility for these actions.
A. N. LEONT’EV