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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

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 is a growing connection between a psychopath’s inability to develop empathy and an emerging theoretical work on how to help them with empathy. This talk explores how restorative practices could provide some part of that help. To me this lends further power to Tomkins’ insights into the biology of emotion and affect as the primary motivator of script formation and behavior. At the same time we still know too little about the brain and probably are still in the infancy of understanding biological glitches in the affect system. It has long been my opinion that many “psychodynamic” or other psychological interpretations of maladaptive behaviors are woefully inadequate because they miss the fact that the brain is an extraordinarily complex organ that is easily glitched through genetic and environmental phenomena. Studies like the one presented in this Ted talk are a step in the right direction in expanding our knowledge and reminding us that what we don’t know far outweighs that which we do know. Vernon Kelly and Marg Thorsborne recently released a book on this... Read More

TOMKINS TOPICS

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

Teaching Affect to Teachers

Over the last few months, Graeme George has been teaching affect to teachers as part of the “Restorative Schools” movement in Australia. It is a movement that hopes to introduce schools to restorative practices, which are firmly rooted in a respect for... Read More

Affect and Neuroplasticity

This post cross-references affect theory with the work of a very influential author in the realm of brain science, and concludes that “Tomkins was ahead of the curve in understanding human cognition, especially in integrating disparate areas of science and research with... Read More

The Depressive Posture

Excerpt from: Emotional Rescue: Shame and the Depressive Posture in George Eliot by Joseph Adamson, McMaster University, June 29, 2009 Vulnerability to both shame and the longing for approval and love is the core of what Silvan Tomkins has called the “depressive... Read More

The Case Against Depression

The wife of a 42-year-old physician pushes him to call for an urgent appointment. He is described as suicidally depressed, has rejected all offers of help, but agrees to see me later that day. Within minutes of beginning our initial... 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.”