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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


The long-held idea that humans are fundamentally emotionally different from animals has been profoundly challenged by the research findings of the late Professor Jaak Panksepp and colleagues. This has irrefutably demonstrated that all mammals share what he described as 'core emotional processes' - namely SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY.

Jaak Panksepp explained it thus: "Cross-species affective neuroscience studies confirm that primary-process emotional feelings are organized within primitive subcortical regions of the brain that are anatomically, neurochemically, and functionally homologous in all mammals that have been studied. Emotional feelings (affects) are intrinsic values that inform animals how they are faring in the quest to survive. The various positive affects indicate that animals are returning to "comfort zones" that support survival, and negative affects reflect "discomfort zones" that indicate that animals are in situations that may impair survival. They are ancestral tools for living - evolutionary memories of such importance that they were coded into the genome in rough form (as primary brain processes), which are refined by basic learning mechanisms (secondary processes) as well as by higher-order cognitions/thoughts (tertiary processes).

To understand why depression feels horrible, we must fathom the affective infrastructure of the mammalian brain. Advances in our understanding of the nature of primary-process emotional affects can promote the development of better preclinical models of psychiatric disorders and thereby also allow clinicians new and useful ways to understand the foundational aspects of their clients' problems. These networks are of clear importance for understanding psychiatric disorders and advancing psychiatric practise."

In this day, exploring the relevance of Panksepp's work to our field, we are joined by two of Panksepp's closest psychotherapist collaborators, Lucy Biven who co-authored The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotion (2012) with him, and Professor Mark Solms who co-wrote and co-presented work on the possible relationship between core mammalian responses and psychoanalysis over many years.

The aim of this event is to explore how these scientific insights are relevant to understanding the affect-states of our patients or clients and, thus, how they might guide our interventions.


Lucy Biven
Lucy Biven trained at the Anna Freud Centre in London, and has served as Head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at the Leicestershire National Health Service in England. She is currently a reader for the Journal of Neuropsychoanalysis. Lucy also co-authored with Jaak Panksepp, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotion (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) - published in 2012... More >>

Professor Mark Solms
Mark Solms was educated at Pretoria Boys' High School and the University of the Witwatersrand. He undertook postdoctoral studies at St Bartholomew's, the Royal London School of Medicine and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London. He returned to South Africa in 2002 as professor in neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town. He is best known for his elucidation of the forebrain mechanisms of dreaming and for his discovery of the double dissociation between rapid-eye-movement sleep and dreaming. He is also widely acknowledged for his pioneering work in the interdisciplinary field now known as neuropsychoanalysis, which substantially broadened neuroscientific understanding of complex psychiatric phenomena... More >>


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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