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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships

Core Emotional Processes in the Mammalian Mind

With implications for effective psychotherapy

With Lucy Biven and Professor Mark Solms

Saturday 3 February 2018 - London

A homage to the work of the late Jaak Panksepp

09.30   Registration and coffee
10.00   Professor Mark Solms

In the beginning was the affect: a neuroscientific perspective on emotions and their implications for psychopathology
This talk will summarise the findings that Jaak Panksepp and Mark Solms published in Brain Sciences under the title 'The id knows more than the ego admits'. Mark will explain how affects are generated in the brain, and outline the radical implications for our conceptualization of the distinction between conscious and unconscious, and between ego and id. He will also outline the implications for psychoanalytic 'instinct' theory.
11.30   Coffee
12.00   Lucy Biven

Panksepp's 7 core emotional systems: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY
Jaak Panksepp delineated 7 emotional systems found largely in subcortical regions of the mammalian brain. These emotional systems consist of specific brain structures which are mediated by particular chemicals, generating basic affects and stereotypical behaviours like cuddling, playing, courting or running away. How do we know that these 7 emotional systems generate affects in other animals? Lucy will discuss research indicating that all mammals do indeed experience affects as we do; that when emotional systems generate affects in animals, the same systems generate affects in humans. More specifically, Panksepp's emotional taxonomy is valuable because psychoanalytic and psychological theories about basic emotions are based on clinical observations that are open to differing interpretation. Panksepp, on the other hand, provides an emotional taxonomy that is rooted in brain science on which we all can agree and his research allows us to have a more realistic understanding on human (and other animal) affective life.
13.00   Lunch
14.00   Professor Mark Solms

Our patients suffer from feelings
In this talk Mark Solms will summarise the findings he published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, under the title What is the unconscious and where is it located in the brain? If the id is intrinsically conscious, and the ego unconscious, this has radical implications for our understanding of the mechanism of the 'talking cure'. If the id is conscious, then what do we really do in psychoanalytic therapy?
15.45   Tea
16.00   Lucy Biven

How does Panksepp's comprehensive emotional taxonomy help us in treating patients?
Although few of us accept the Freudian idea that there are two basic instincts - sex and aggression - many of us still believe that the expression of aggression is pleasurable. But Panksepp demonstrates that this is not always true. He also refutes Freud's idea that non-sexual love is a sublimation of libido. Non-sexual attachments are basic to us all. His research has revealed the surprising fact that the urge to PLAY is basic and its absence is an indication of an emotional problem. His findings also indicate that there is a surprising straightforwardness in our emotional systems, for example, that are two basic ways to feel anxious: one stemming from the FEAR and the other from the GRIEF system. That there are also two basic ways to feel good: the comfort and joy that comes from quelling the GRIEF system, the other from activation of the SEEKING system and our capacity for agency in the world.

When emotional systems are highly aroused, they overwhelm the rational capacities of the neocortex, which normally inhibits emotional arousal. Successful psychotherapy relies on the neocortical ability to inhibit emotions so the patient can rationally examine them. When patients are overwhelmed by emotion they are often frightened of psychotherapy or unmotivated. It might be argued that if psychiatric drugs could subdue acute and/or chronic emotional distress and/or promote positive emotional systems, psychotherapy would be able to proceed more rapidly and effectively than is currently possible. We will consider this possibility.
16.45   Discussion
17.00   End

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Handouts and lunch included
Self-funded: £130
Self-funded x 2: £200
Organisationally-funded: £200

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event

8 All Saints Street
N1 9RL

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:30 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:45 Tea
17:00 End