• Subscribe

    Subscribe to our mailing list

    * indicates required
  • Login
  • My Cart

"We are on the threshold of immense new possibilities in understanding human beings.”

(Silvan Tomkins)

Silvan Tomkins’s theory of innate, biologically-based affects describes the internal reward system that powers human motivation and explains the systematic, incremental development of emotion, learning, personality and ideology. We at the Tomkins Institute are devoted to testing, advancing, and applying this powerful Human Being Theory.








A sorrowful passing

A sorrowful passing

We sorrowfully announce the death of Tomkins Institute founder, Don Nathanson.  As author of Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self, Nathanson explained and applied Tomkins’ theories to so as to have profound and lasting impact.  His work in establishing this institute and promoting Tomkins legacy has been an enormous gift to humankind.

A wonderful obituary for Dr. Nathanson appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, where it was noted that “Dr. Nathanson blazed a trail when he began to explore how emotions, especially shame, are a critical regulator of human behavior and to discern that the responses to shame can be mapped. He wrote extensively and lectured internationally on the subject.”  Click here to read the obituary.

Here is a note from former President of Tomkins Institute and good friend of Don, Vick Kelly:

7 December 2017

To the friends, colleagues, students, and others who knew him:

Sadly I send you news of the passing of my mentor and dear friend Don
Nathanson. He had been in hospice at Bryn Mawr Hospital for several days
and passed away peacefully this morning after a long battle with
dementia and the physical aftereffects of a stroke. His death is partly
a blessing because he was a such a brilliant man but had lost the use of
his powerful intellect to illness. It is not so much of a blessing for
those of us who loved him dearly. Although she was not present at the
moment of his death, his amazing wife Roz was by his side for the many
years of his ordeal, making sure he was well taken care of. Almost to
the very end, he was able to say “I love you” to her.



What members of the Institute are reading, writing and appreciating about Tomkins' ideas at play in the world.

Tomkins and Izard: Theories Compared

By Duncan Lucas, PhD. and Maria McManus Carroll Izard is a widely cited theorist and researcher on emotion, possibly more well-known today than his mentor, Silvan Tomkins. People familiar with Izard’s theories might be interested in understanding the similarities with... Read More

Videos of Babies and Affects

Youtube videos are precious for more than just kittens and cuteness. These videos, fun and funny as they are to watch, are excellent examples of affects in action. Of particular note is the video on shame, an affect that is... Read More

The Neuroscience of Restorative Justice

by Vick Kelly (Excerpted and edited from the Tomkins Talk Forum) The following link provides information about an exciting potential interface between ASP, Neuroscience, and Restorative Justice: https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_reisel_the_neuroscience_of_restorative_justice I find it very interesting that neuroimaging has shown poorly developed amygdalas in so-called psychopaths. There... Read More

The Skin is Where It's At - Inverse Archaeology



Subscribe to our newsletter for FREE. We send it out six times a year, highlighting the latest developments in the world of Tomkins.



Receive newsletter, participate in our member-only list-serv, Tomkins Talk, and have access to all member-only webinar events.

International Member


Same benefits as member, factoring in costs associated with international transactions.

“A world experienced without any affect would be a pallid, meaningless world. We would know that things happened, but we could not care whether or not they did.”