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Panksepp, J. Pincus, D. (2004). Commentary. Neuropsychoanalysis, 6(2):197-203.

(2004). Neuropsychoanalysis, 6(2):197-203

Commentary Related Papers

Jaak Panksepp and David Pincus

Toward a Taxonomy of Affects

Ostow has given us a much-needed beginning toward a taxonomy of affects, which should eventually translate well from neuroanatomy and neurodynamics to psychiatry and psychodynamics. We are in dire need of the systematic study of affect from a variety of conceptual and practical viewpoints. We are not well served by the systematic neglect of affect in the neurosci-entific literature, or by its poor-cousin status in psychoanalytic literature and its truncation into static phenomenological categories in DSM-IV (APA, 1994). We are in full support of Ostow's initiative to find new directions in this enterprise and are reminded of Bion's (1970) suggestion that feelings are the few things that analysts have the luxury of being able to regard as facts. It is a great deficiency that nothing close to that can yet be said in the neurosciences, though there is a shift in the wind and emotion studies are currently among the hottest topics in integrative human brain research. Unfortunately, the subjective experience of emotions—the various affective states—is rarely monitored or discussed in such studies. Most analyses focus on cognitive, behavioral, and physiological issues that can be more easily objectified.

The triangle of emotional controls consists typically of (1) primary appraisal functions (sometimes as simple as evolutionarily primed sensory input like sounds that startle or smells that scare) that commonly instigate (2) arousal of various limbic processes that control instinctual emotional responses (behavioral, affective experiential, and physiological), which lead to (3) a large variety of secondary appraisal processes, both short-and long-term, related to cognitive coping with the affective states mediated by the limbic arousal.

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