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Panksepp, J. (2000). On Preventing Another Century of Misunderstanding: Toward a Psychoethology of Human Experience and a Psychoneurology of Affect Commentary by Jaak Panksepp. Neuropsychoanalysis, 2(2):240-255.

(2000). Neuropsychoanalysis, 2(2):240-255

On Preventing Another Century of Misunderstanding: Toward a Psychoethology of Human Experience and a Psychoneurology of Affect Commentary by Jaak Panksepp

Jaak Panksepp

Whittle's gentle complaint provides fertile ground for sharing some of my own thoughts on this contentious topic—the chasm between analytic-dissective and synthetic-integrative approaches to understanding the mind. I will take this opportunity to share what has been on my mind for the last 30 years rather frankly concerning our continuing failure to have a unified and coherent mind-brain-behavior science.

The one thing all might agree on is that the experimental psychology that emerged during the past century has yet to give us a lasting and coherent science of the human or animal condition. In my estimation, this is largely due to the fact that it never really came to terms with the evolutionary dynamics and epigenetic complexities of ancient regions of the mammalian brain. All too often it skirted the most profound and central issues of our lives—the clarification of the many internal impulses and feelings that guide the intentional actions and choices we routinely make each day. For quite a while, neuroscience has also followed that same pattern, pretending that the dynamic, evolutionarily provided integrative states of the nervous system are of little importance for understanding what the brain does. In fact, the probability is high that the brain generates a great deal of its “magic” not simply through “information transmission,” but through massive, coordinated operations of enormous ensembles of neurons that create global and organic neurodynamics (states of being) that constitute the forms of affective consciousness, not capable of being reproduced, so far as we know, on digital computers.

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