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"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.

PURPOSE OF AFFECT

NINE AFFECTS

FACE

SHAME

SCRIPTS & COGNITION

IDEOLOGY

MORE OF WHAT TOMKINS SAID

An Effective Application of Tomkins in New South Wales

In New South Wales, Australia, when people are referred to the Goulburn Family Support Services (GFSS) they always get a basic education in Silvan Tomkins’ theory of affects. “We started doing this in 2002 and have found it to be a key element in our clients’ success,” said Matt Casey, Chairman of the Management Committee. The clients are often involved in domestic violence and come to GFSS for safety planning to determine how the abusive behavior can be stopped and the relationships in the family repaired. “Initially we imagined we would run restorative conferences for the women and their families, including the abuser,” said Casey, referring to a specific type of meeting involving all parties in a traumatic event and intended to surface multiple perspectives and feelings to promote mutual healing. “For a range of reasons, including the fact that many of our clients didn’t have strong family support, we found that it was not possible to run the conferences.” So the team at GFSS looked for ways to get the benefits of a restorative conference from one-on-one interactions with the women and their partners. They knew about Silvan Tomkins’ affect theory, and “it became obvious to us that this theory underpinned everything we know about restorative justice,” said Casey.... Read More

TOMKINS TOPICS

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

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“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.”