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Solms, M. Bucci, W. (2000). Biological and Integrative Studies on Affect. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(1):141-144.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(1):141-144

Biological and Integrative Studies on Affect

Mark Solms and Wilma Bucci

The Moderator opened this very complex topic with an overview of current emotion theory and research, as represented primarily in the work of LeDoux, Panksepp and Damasio. While LeDoux focuses on the system of fear, Damasio and Panksepp look at the broad range of affects, with Damasio providing a big picture and Panksepp filling in the details. Panksepp's model is based on the central concept of a ‘seeking system’ that is set in motion by need-detectors, including hunger, thirst, thermo-regulation and sexual needs (and perhaps curiosity), which drives organisms, including humans and other mammals, to seek objects in the world. Specific affect systems are formed that have characteristic instigators, qualities of feeling and patterns of action, and that interact in distinct ways with the overall seeking system and with one another. These include pleasure-lust or pleasure-joy, in which the consummatory act operates to switch off the seeking system; anger-rage, set off through frustration of the pleasure-seeking system; fear-anxiety, which activates responses of avoidance and flight; and panic, activated by separation from mother or social group. For Damasio, affect arises out of interaction between internal milieu and outside world; the essential context of affect is defined by the self in relation to the object. The anatomical distribution system for affect, with corollary chemical coding, involves information from external events that is processed through fore-brain, hypothalamus and related structures, and influences motoric patterns, internal discharge and autonomic response; and information from the internal milieu processed through the brainstem.

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