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Let's say examples of negative emotions are sadness and despair, and example of positive emotions are happiness and pride.

So is there a word that describes a person who has total, complete control over his negative and positive emotions? I'm talking about someone who can manage his emotions in a long-lasting way, not just temporarily. Generally speaking I'm looking for an adjective, but a noun will also be useful.

Example Sentences:

1.When images of scenes that normally trigger strong emotions were shown to him he demonstrated no emotion

2.His face did not display any emotion despite the [sad]news just relayed to him.

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According to the New Testament, there has only ever been one such person. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 19 at 12:10
Actually, "psychopath" might fit. Though it's difficult to say whether the psychopath is demonstrating emotions or faking them. – Hot Licks Feb 19 at 13:20
@D_S - when you say 'control' are you meaning 'supress' (i.e. to overcome or keep down by force), or something more like 'manage'? Is the control you talk of superficial and temporary (e.g. for purposes of a poker game, or an intellectual discussion) or long-lasting and deeper within the id? – Dan Feb 19 at 18:57
"Total, complete control"? A god, perhaps? (Not most gods though.) No mere human, certainly. – Drew Feb 19 at 19:02
By "control", do you mean like "I now decide to feel happy", or like "despite feeling angry I will behave rationally"? – Nathan Long Feb 19 at 21:23

14 Answers 14

up vote 19 down vote accepted


from Wikipedia: "(Latin: æquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind."

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Nicely done..... – Tony Ennis Feb 19 at 19:53
This is the most fitting word. – A.S. Feb 20 at 1:57

There are several appropriate terms. Assuming that all emotions could be described as positive or negative(is there such a thing as a neutral emotion?)

Stoic In the classical sense this meant adherents to the stoic philosophy which was a philosophy emphasizing the importance of the appropriate behaviour, in modern usage it would be used to describe someones demeanor.

"Angela Merkel is of very stoic character"

Similar terms would be "unflappable" and "impassive".

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Apathy is a neutral emotion. "I feel nothing about it/towards it". – Sakatox Feb 19 at 12:39
Apathy is the lack of emotion, rather than a neutral emotion apathy- dictionary.com – Michael Quinn Feb 19 at 12:44
It is a neutral emotion - the lack of an emotion is an emotion. There is no state of a human being where it does not feel. The same argument is with sets in mathematics - an empty set is part of all sets. Or in other words: "I feel nothing" is not the same as "I do not feel." – Sakatox Feb 19 at 12:45
Having control over the influence of emotion on reason is not the same as having control over emotions. Therefore stoic is not the word that describes the individual of the question. – Christiaan Westerbeek Feb 19 at 23:03
@Sakatox Right, and black-and-white TV is should also be called color TV. That an empty set is a set and that zero is a natural number are mathematical conventions of consistency/generalizability - not reflections of the essence of the object. There is even a function from an empty set to an empty set - but of course it is not a function in any non-technical meaning. Equating humanity with emotion, while maaybe technically correct, is not very useful. (Descartes would disagree). – A.S. Feb 20 at 1:10

I'd suggest,


pok′er face`


a face that shows no emotion or intention. [1880–85, Amer.]

pok′er-faced`, adj. Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary


deliberately impassive in manner WordNet by Farlex

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Informally, a person with complete control over emotions is often described as "very Zen," an adjectivized version of the Zen Buddhist religion (which prizes emotional control). This is a slang usage, however.

A more formal term is impassive:

1c: unsusceptible to or destitute of emotion
2: giving no sign of feeling or emotion

However, this describes either someone who feels no emotions, or someone who gives no sign of emotions, neither of which is exactly the same as having complete control over emotions.

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I like very Zen. Impassive less so, for the reasons you give. – Dan Feb 19 at 18:40

You might describe them as a "Vulcan", after the fictional race in Star Trek. Vulcans attempt to live by reason and logic with no interference from emotion.

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Is Objective. Objectivity carries no emotion, just observation and stating.

For a more direct approach, composed and calm.

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Context can easily change the word that will answer the OP - is the person saintly or pyschopathic, a powder keg of buttoned up frustration and anger, or averagely content and sociable?

Someone who is able to experience positive and negative emotions without either self-harming or acting sociopathically might be said to have balanced their emotions, in the sense that neither good nor bad emotions disrupt their ability to maintain an 'even keel' and go about their daily business.

Alternatively, you could say that this same person is self-aware, unreactive, in good mental health.

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Wouldn't balance be kind of dual control loss? Mad enough to spin out of control, but content/calm enough to not do it? It's not control of both sides, but controlling one with the other? – Sakatox Feb 19 at 12:39
@Sakatox - The OP asks for a term to describe to describe a person who achieves control over opposing emotions. How the opposing factors are 'controlled' is not the point. – Dan Feb 19 at 13:30
From OP: "So can we use a word that describes a person who has total, complete control over his negative and positive emotions?" "Who has total, complete control", "over his negative and positive emotions". I think that control is on point, and you are missing the point. It's not about opposing emotions being controlled - by each other or such, but being in control of one's self, while the emotions are running rampant. As in, not using water against fire, but wearing elemental-proof armor... not the best fitting example, but you get the idea. – Sakatox Feb 19 at 13:38

The dictionary doesn't quite agree with my connotations of the word, but I might use

Measured (from this website):

(Of speech or writing) carefully considered; deliberate and restrained: his measured prose

This word always reminds me of the title of a Roscoe Holcomb album, An Untamed Sense of Control. That's really quite tangential, but I never get to mention it to anyone.

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The main question in choosing a word is what you want to say. Complete control over emotions, taken at face value, means that you completely control what you feel. I doubt there is a word for that because I doubt there is a person who can do it.

I would assume that you meant complete control over own reactions to emotions. In that case 'phlegmatic' might do.

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According to the OED phlegmatic mean not easily excited to feeling or action; stolidly calm, self-possessed, imperturbable; (with pejorative connotation) sluggish, apathetic, lacking enthusiasm. This feels only half right. The negative connotation is not asked for or implied by the OP. – Dan Feb 19 at 18:43

"Emotional Maturity" answers your question. One of the definitions of Emotional Maturity is the ability to redirect your negative feelings into a positive, constructive direction. https://www.google.com/search?q=Emotional+Maturity has many matches. If you want a single word, then try "Maturity."

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"Complete control over negative and positive emotions' - in other words, this person feels exactly what they want to feel, irrespective of the situation or stimulus. I think 'narcissist' is the word you need.

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Welcome to the multitude of question-answerers. Those answers which are received most warmly are those that include quoted or linked support, along with carefully chosen illustrations. Those that don't may be voted down. – Rob_Ster Feb 20 at 23:16

Another possibility, although perhaps more impersonal than what you seek, is "dispassionate."

Here's the online Oxford definition:

Not influenced by strong emotion, and so able to be rational and impartial

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The most apt, I believe, are these:


(Of a person or their manner) serious and unrelenting, especially in the assertion of authority and exercise of discipline.


Describing a person who practices severe self-discipline.

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"Ascetic" normally means the kind of self-discipline that avoids material connection, such as a monastic life. Its associated with emotional discipline, but its not the same thing. – Paul Johnson Feb 21 at 7:22
That's true, but the OP wasn't asking for a word that specifies a non-material connection. – Daniel van Flymen Feb 21 at 7:31

Example Sentences:

  1. When images of scenes that normally trigger strong emotions were shown to him he was stone-cold.

  2. His face was stone-cold despite the [sad] news just relayed to him.


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary

Unfeeling, insensible, as in That sad story left her stone cold. This analogy was already used by Shakespeare in Henry V (2:3): “Cold as any stone.”

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