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Solms, M. (2017). Some innate predictions are social in nature: Commentary on “Mentalizing homeostasis” by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris. Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(1):55-57.

(2017). Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(1):55-57

Some innate predictions are social in nature: Commentary on “Mentalizing homeostasis” by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris

Mark Solms

It is a real pleasure to comment on such an intelligent target article (Fotopoulou & Tsakiris, 2017) under the banner of Neuropsychoanalysis. I will restrict my commentary to a perceived disagreement between myself and the authors of this article. However, I do not disagree with their fundamental theoretical claim. In my view, all drives and instincts (what Panksepp calls “homeostatic affects” and “emotional affects” respectively) are inherently object-related. More pertinently, one of the things that distinguishes drives from instincts is that the objects of the latter are mainly social. (The objects of homeostatic drives – such as air, food and water – are less obviously social, at least until they coalesce in the SEEKING instinct.)

The pivotal example of a social instinct is “attachment” – what Panksepp (1998) calls PANIC/GRIEF. How can you experience panic or grief without the loss of an ontogenetically encoded object of social attachment? The same applies to FEAR, RAGE, LUST, CARE and PLAY; all of these instincts necessarily entail particular types of social relation.

After a long quote of my views concerning the id (Solms, 2013), the authors state their central claim:

While we broadly agree with the above neuropsychoanalytic and phenomenological views regarding the embodied and affective origins of subjectivity and selfhood, we are suggesting that at least certain parts of our embodied, affective subjectivity are interpersonally constituted.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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