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euphoria

euphoria The French novelist, Michel Tournier, believed that euphoria carried within its etymology the key to a fundamental transformation in the Western conception of the self. The word, which is now interpreted as little more than a feeling of light-headedness or a general sensation of well-being, originally occupied a much more moral position. Its Greek root of eu, meaning goodness, happiness, or contentment, and phoria, signifying the act of carrying, reveal a more effort-bound situation in which the individual supports happiness or bears themself with joy. The etymology suggests that contentment and joy are states demanding a persistent and active engagement. Tournier draws a parallel with the coterminous etymology of Christopher, from the martyred giant who achieved his sainthood by carrying Christ.

This idea of euphoria as a state achieved through effort and activity has now largely disappeared. With the advent of Christianity and the rise of Calvinism, in particular, a more passive view of the self and its emotions has emerged. Euphoria is now regarded as a state which overwhelms the personality. In medical terms euphoria is defined as a form of mood elevation inappropriate to circumstances, brought on by diseases of the nervous system such as syphilis or multiple sclerosis. In religious terms it connotes the epiphanies and awakenings of passive soul. The American psychologist, William James, described the state as one ‘in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been displaced by a willingness to hold our mouths and be as nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God.’ James offered his own explanation for this connection between euphoria and passivity, arguing that the emotion emerged only when the self gave up its struggle with the world and instead surrendered to the uprushes of the subconscious life.

In recent years, a middle way has emerged between the active and passive models of euphoria. The growing use of euphoriant drugs such as MDMA (‘ecstasy’) and MDEA (‘eve’) has encouraged a new perspective in which the emotional life is seen as the passive product of the brain's biochemistry whilst the self maintains the familiar control and discrimination of the modern consumer.

In medical terms, as well as its association with such drugs, euphoria, defined as mood elevation inappropriate to the circumstances, may accompany mental illness and diseases affecting the nervous system, such as syphilis and multiple sclerosis.

Rhodri Hayward


See also emotion; pleasure.

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euphoria

eu·pho·ri·a / yoōˈfôrēə/ • n. a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness: the euphoria of success will fuel your desire to continue training.

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Euphoria

Euphoria (family Sapindaceae) A genus of trees and shrubs that includes E. longana which is cultivated for its fruit, the longan. There are 15 species, occurring from India and southern China to Malesia.

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euphoria

euphoria (yoo-for-iă) n. a state of cheerfulness and wellbeing. A morbid degree of euphoria is characteristic of mania and hypomania. See also ecstasy, elation.

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euphoria

euphoriabarrier, carrier, farrier, harrier, tarrier •Calabria, Cantabria •Andrea • Kshatriya • Bactria •Amu Darya, aria, Zaria •Alexandria •Ferrier, terrier •destrier •aquaria, area, armamentaria, Bavaria, Bulgaria, caldaria, cineraria, columbaria, filaria, frigidaria, Gran Canaria, herbaria, honoraria, malaria, pulmonaria, rosaria, sacraria, Samaria, solaria, tepidaria, terraria •atria, gematria •Assyria, Illyria, Styria, SyriaLaurier, warrior •hypochondria, mitochondria •Austria •auditoria, ciboria, conservatoria, crematoria, emporia, euphoria, Gloria, moratoria, phantasmagoria, Pretoria, sanatoria, scriptoria, sudatoria, victoria, Vitoria, vomitoria •Maurya •courier, Fourier •currier, furrier, spurrier, worrier •Cumbria, Northumbria, Umbria •Algeria, anterior, bacteria, Bashkiria, cafeteria, criteria, cryptomeria, diphtheria, exterior, hysteria, Iberia, inferior, interior, Liberia, listeria, Nigeria, posterior, Siberia, superior, ulterior, wisteria •Etruria, Liguria, Manchuria, Surya

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