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Shevrin, H. (1999). Jaak Panksepp's Response: Commentary by Howard Shevrin. Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(2):247-250.

(1999). Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(2):247-250

Jaak Panksepp's Response: Commentary by Howard Shevrin

Howard Shevrin

After reading Panksepp's response to the commentaries on his position paper, in my judgment several important outstanding issues still remained. I will address these issues and conclude with a recommended empirical approach which might deal with them. The issues are these: (1) the relationship between affect and motivation; (2) the relationships among conscious, unconscious, and nonconscious processes; (3) the relationship between psychoanalytic and neuroscience methods.

Affect and Motivation

As I have tried to examine elsewhere (Shevrin, 1997), a widespread tendency exists in psychology, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience to conflate motivation with affect. When, for example, Panksepp talks about the important SEEKING system he describes it as a kind of amorphous affect state with a certain indefinable “oomph.” When this system is activated the animal presumably begins a kind of restless movement in its surround during which it may encounter food which then activates the eating system resulting in eating, if presumably the animal is hungry, or it will continue its aimless travels until it encounters something else of interest, and so on. Yet this does not seem to be the way Berridge and Robinson (1995) describe the craving system they have identified and which Panksepp uses as a basis for his SEEKING system. For Berridge and Robinson a quite specific sensitization of a particular craving occurs—a craving, for example, for a particular drug. Moreover, this craving operates entirely independently of whether the stimulus is experienced as pleasurable or unpleasurable.

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