Psychopathological sufferance is associated with negative emotions which are intense and persistent over time. In the present work we examine the main psychological processes underlying the onset and perseverance of negative emotions with a specific emphasis on the importance of deontic expectations. Such expectations consist in a set of criteria that define what must and must not happen. We argue that violations of such expectations contribute to intensify emotional sufferance originating from losses and threats to one’s goals in several different ways. In addition, we will discuss how intense emotions associated to the violation of a deontic expectations can motivate individuals to recur to prudential cognitive processes which, in turns, can increase the persistence of emotional suffering.