Neuroscience has come of age and is going in some truly fascinating directions. We now have hybrid “neuro” disciplines such as neurophilosophy, neurotheology, neuroanthropology, cultural neuroscience, cultural neuropsychology, and neuropsychoanalysis.
The most exciting development is the shift away from cognitive neuroscience towards affective neuroscience. Human and animal emotions are now a rich area of scientific study and thanks to the work of pioneers like Jaak Panksepp, emotions are now regarded as bona fide experiences, and not just mechanical reactions to stimuli. A rat that squeeks joyously when tickled can now be said to be “laughing” and not “undergoing a positive response to pleasurable stimuli.”
The purpose of this blog is to explore recent findings in affective neuroscience and their relation to mental health and psychotherapy in order to create lives with more authenticity and love. The blending of neuroscience with psychotherapy is an emerging area, and although many attempts are being made to link the two disciplines, there is a serious need for the study of deep feeling psychotherapies, such as primal therapy.
Sadly, psychotherapies that explore deep feelings are often viewed as obsolete, unscientific, and unhelpful at best or dangerous at worst. This misunderstanding is exacerbated by practitioners who combine deep feeling approaches with supernatural or transpersonal approaches that take people deep into imaginary states with little or no connection to reality. (Examples are so-called past-life therapy or cellular consciousness.) The greatest tragedy is that deep feeling therapies are commonly misrepresented as “scream therapy” or “primal scream therapy” because of the title of a book by Arthur Janov, called The Primal Scream.
In this blog, we will address these misunderstandings and hopefully stimulate a lively dialog among psychologists, psychotherapists, affective neuroscientists, and others who want to see this field advance in a truly scientific way. We believe that these efforts are critical to helping people who are emotionally damaged and need something more powerful than talk therapy. More importantly, we hope to contribute to the creation a truly compassionate society that will eventually eliminate the need for psychotherapy.
Bruce and Peter