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Tomkins Topics

Tomkins' theories applied to various aspects of life and work

Tomkins Institute Quarterly Member Zoom Gathering: January 20th, 2024 at 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern time)

Professor Amy Demorest, Amherst College

In the last dozen years of his life, Silvan Tomkins introduced and developed script theory, which drew on his previous work on affect, cognition, and personality. According to this theory, the basic unit of lived experience is the scene, which consists minimally of an affect and its activator. Because humans are motivated to increase positive affect and decrease negative affect, they link together similar scenes to better anticipate and deal with them. A script is a mental rule (usually nonconscious) for anticipating and dealing with a family of scenes. This theory gives us a powerful way for understanding the impact of important emotional experiences, such as the adverse childhood experiences that have been found to predict future victimization and perpetration of violence.

Professor Amy Demorest will talk about her efforts to identify common types of scenes that people experience (e.g., Danger to Self-Fear), to develop a questionnaire for assessing the importance of these scenes to a person, and to examine the relationship of these scenes to patterns of childhood experience and adult psychological functioning.

As well as reviewing the fruits of these efforts thus far, Amy looks forward to members’ feedback and thoughts about future applications for her work, including studying the effects of the current issues of global warming and global conflicts on both child and adult development.

To register your interest in participating with us in this zoom meeting, please send a quick note to Nancy MacConnachie at nancymac.tomkins@gmail.com