This means there are specific themes running through particular emotions. For example, devaluation or loss in depression, danger or threat in anxiety, situationally specific danger in phobia, transgression of personal rules and standards in anger, moral lapse in guilt, perceived deficiencies revealed to others in shame, and expansion in happiness. These themes are tied to Beck’s (1976) concept of the ‘personal domain’, that is, anything that the person considers important in their life. The nature of ‘a person’s emotional response – or emotional disturbance – depends on whether he perceives events as adding to, subtracting from, endangering, or impinging upon his domain’ (Beck, 1976: 56). Some examples will help to explain this relationship:
A person who prides themself on being a successful businessperson becomes depressed when their company goes bust because they believe, ‘My work is my life. Without my company, I’m nothing’ (subtraction).
A person becomes anxious that their sexual prowess will be ridiculed when they experience erectile dysfunction (endangerment).
A person is delighted that they have been promoted as this is now another significant step in their career path (expansion).
A person who enjoys peace and quiet in their life becomes very angry when their new next-door neighbour plays their music very loudly (impingement).