Re: Eric Shouse's "Feeling, Emotion, Affect"

In my Queer Feelings class, one of the first things we read was an essay by Dr. Eric Shouse called "Feeling, Emotion, Affect," which attempts to lay out a system for understanding and discussing human internal experiences and their expression. 

There are three categories, as implied by the title -- roughly, affect is the immediate, visceral, unconscious experience; feeling is that experience once conscious and internally defined by reference to language and past experience; and emotion is the expression of the experience (including feigned expression) deliberately to others.

To me, there's a really obvious, massive hole here, between affect and feeling.

The issue is, by Shouse's conception, an experience is either unconscious, or it is defined by language and memory. 

But in my experience, there's often a huge, days-to-weeks-long gap when an experience is noticed, and conscious, sometimes even having qualities intrinsically tied to its being conscious, during which it can't be adequately named or connected clearly to prior memories.

In this state my ability to cross-reference with language and memory is disrupted. I can think of names for the state itself -- dissociation, crisis, void -- but those names don't adequately describe the feeling itself -- and besides, the ability to tag a name to it later represents a movement from that state into the state Shouse calls "feeling," not a disproof of the state itself.

The important part is consciousness: Shouse writes, "affect is the most abstract because affect cannot be fully realised in language,  and because affect is always prior to and/or outside of consciousness[.]"  (Bolding mine.) He constrains these two conditions together: his taxonomy explicitly and firmly has no place for conscious non-linguistic experience.

These periods are a major part of my mental illness, and without addressing them any explication of my inner life would be deeply incomplete. 

I suspect this state exists in most or all people's experience, but for Shouse, and for neurotypical people without mental illness in general, it's probably generally so brief that it's easy to ignore or fail to notice entirely. But because it lacks this category, it would be impossible for me to use Shouse's taxonomy to meaningfully discuss my internal life.