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Spero, M.H. (1996). Affect Regulation And The Origin Of The Self. The Neurobiology Of Emotional Development. By Allan N. Schore, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994. 670 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 65:395-398.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:395-398

Affect Regulation And The Origin Of The Self. The Neurobiology Of Emotional Development. By Allan N. Schore, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994. 670 pp.

Review by:
Moshe Halevi Spero

In this extensively researched (over 2,300 references!) and cogently argued text, Allan N. Schore provides a major contribution to the study of the relationship between the neurological processes and structures of the brain and the socioaffective and object representational phenomena that we generally associate with the mind. Schore, a clinical neuropsychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, explores the dialogical interaction between neurodynamics and psychodynamics. He proposes a neuropsychic choreography according to which the human infant's affective interactions within the early social environment directly influence the postnatal maturation of brain structures that will, in turn, play a major role in all subsequent socioaffective functioning. The cornerstone of his theory is that the dynamic functional properties of such a system are mediated by the orbitofrontal cortex, which seems to be the central cerebral system involved in social, emotional, motivational, and self-regulatory behavior.

Schore begins with an essentially readable survey of the extensive evidence that such factors as dendritic growth, synaptogenesis, and histochemical reorganization of the prefrontal region and corticolimbic system during the first two years of life are particularly sensitive to interaction with the external world. At the same time, he overlaps these neurological developments with the familiar concepts that are considered pivotal to self-other differentiation and affect attunement according to psychoanalytic, object relations, and attachment theories. In the course of explicating these notions, Schore expounds the thesis of “ontogenetic niches”—referring to a set of social and physical environmental circumstances that specifies the behavioral adaptations of the developing parent and child—which inaugurate, and are subsequently regulated by, a series of “expectancy-based memory systems” linked to dopaminergic “expectancy command circuits.” According to this model, higherorder, abstract symbolic-representational factors such as are spoken of by psychoanalysis serve as mediators or unconscious stimuli for these circuits.

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