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8. Affect Dynamics


  • Be able to understand ways in which affects influence each other and ways in which affects establish priority.
  • Each member should pick three different hypotheses and give a personal, clinical, or literary example that would illustrate these interactions.


AIC I-II, “Affect Dynamics,” Chapter 9, SuperVolume I, pp. 151-184.

Bulletin, v4, #1-2-3, 1997, Donald L. Nathanson, “A Goal Is an Image,” pp. 1-6.

Bulletin, v2, #2, 1995, Verda Little, “Affect Theory Study Group Session 2,” pp. 19-21.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What affect is most likely to be noticed? How does density determine attention?
  2. What affects are most likely to appear in dreams—why?
  3. How do affects influence each other?
  4. Tomkins gives nineteen hypotheses concerning the relation of affect to positive or negative outcomes.
  5. Can you think of a personal, literary, or clinical example for each of these hypotheses? (For instance, “Reduction of negative affect is rewarding.” When one learns that a feared outcome is not going to occur, one can heave a sigh of relief. Example: The biopsy shows that a supposedly malignant tumor turns out to be benign.)
  6. How does learning change the expression of innate affect?
  7. Can an affect be unconscious?
  8. What are general images?
  9. What are the four general images concerning the expression of affect?