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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Krause, R. (1995). Affect Imagery Consciousness: Volume 3. The Negative Affects: Fear And Anger. By Silvan S. Tomkins. New York: Springer, 1991, 592 pp., $74.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:929-937.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:929-937

Affect Imagery Consciousness: Volume 3. The Negative Affects: Fear And Anger. By Silvan S. Tomkins. New York: Springer, 1991, 592 pp., $74.00.

Review by:
Rainer Krause

The first 108 pages of this 592-page book is a revision of the author's theory outlined in 1962 and 1963. A fourth volume edited posthumously has recently been published, covering affect and information processing and providing a bibliography (Tomkins, 1992). Silvan Tomkins, whom I had the good fortune to know personally, was a keen observer and creative thinker against the current of the Zeitgeist, doing research in the context of discovery, to use his wording. To make the impossible task come true, I shall attempt to describe his complete theory, his modifications, and his work on anger and fear.

In his highly influential work, Tomkins stated that there are eight phylogenetically inherited primary affects: interest, enjoyment, surprise, distress, fear, shame, contempt/disgust, and anger. He considered them to be innate biological motivating systems overriding drive and pain signals. “Affects are sets of muscular and glandular responses located in the face and also widely distributed through the body, which generate sensory feedback which is either inherently ‘acceptable’ or ‘unacceptable’” (Tomkins, 1968p. 326). The capacity to understand and produce each primary affect is genetically inherited and stored in subcortical centers. Affect is highly contagious because facial and voice patterns can elicit the complete pattern of affect. Since facial feedback was so important to his theory, Tomkins was the first in the Anglo-American post-Darwinian field to describe the facial responses so carefully and, in doing so, to inspire some very influential measurement techniques by his followers Izard (1977) and Ekman and Friesen (1969, 1978).


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