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Watt, D.F. (2017). Reflections on the neuroscientific legacy of Jaak Panksepp (19432017). Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(2):183-198.

(2017). Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(2):183-198

Reflections on the neuroscientific legacy of Jaak Panksepp (19432017)

Douglas F. Watt

Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasurethey govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it.

Jeremy Bentham

One of the truly great voices in modern neuroscience was silenced recently, when Jaak Panksepp suddenly died on April 18th of this year, following a fairly routine surgical procedure that went badly awry, generating a serious ischemic-hypoxic insult, a tragedy from which not even Jaak Panksepp could recover. Jaak had battled long and hard with recurring bouts of several cancers, and as is too often the case, it was actually the cancer therapy process that eventually killed him and not the cancer itself, although that distinction offers little solace. Nevertheless, the terrible and final suddenness of all this, despite Jaaks age and medical history, was shocking and deeply upsetting to all of us who were close to Jaak. None of us is truly prepared for these departures at the end of life, even though we all know that they are coming eventually, and inevitably.

Jaaks neuroscientific work was, as many now appreciate, centered at least in part around separation distress as a prototype emotional state. He has had much to say, over the many years of his career, about the nature of the very grief that all who knew Jaak well have been feeling since his passing. That grief still lies heavy on many hearts, of family, friends and colleagues.

[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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