The Affect Theory of Silvan Tomkins for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: Recasting the Essentials, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Affect Theory of Silvan Tomkins for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

Recasting the Essentials, 1st Edition

By E. Virginia Demos


298 pages

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The Affect Theory of Silvan Tomkins for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy explores central issues in current clinical work, using the theories put forward by Silvan Tomkins and presenting them in detail, as well as integrating them with the most up-to-date neuroscience findings and infancy research, all based on a biopsychosocial, dynamic systems approach.Part I describes the essentials of life, based on our evolutionary and biological heritage, namely a need for a coherent understanding of one’s world and the capacity to act in that world; the infant's capacities are described in detail as embodying both. Longitudinal data is provided beginning at birth into the third year of life. Part II reviews current debates in psychoanalysis relating to motivation, and the lack of an internally consistent theory. Recent neuroscience findings are presented, which both negate drive theory, and support Tomkins' theory. His theory is then described in detail. In Part III, two case histories are presented: one is a clinical case illustrating one of Tomkins' affect powered scripts. The second case is drawn from a longitudinal study extending from birth, into early adulthood, which is made sense of with the help of Tomkins' theory. Demos concludes with a look at competing approaches to theory and responds to recent cognitive-based attempts to disprove both Tomkins' work and the latest findings from neuroscience.

The Affect Theory of Silvan Tomkins for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatric nurses.

Table of Contents

Introduction PART I Chapter 1: New Developmental Paradigms Chapter 2: Basic Human Priorities Chapter 3: Longitudinal Studies PART II Chapter 4: Motivation Theory Reformulated Chapter 5: Silvan Tomkins’s Affect Theory Chapter 6: Tomkins’s Script Theory: A Theory of Personality PART III Chapter 7: Revisiting the Repetition Compulsion Chapter 8: Trauma and the Anti-Toxic Script Chapter 9: Conclusion

About the Author

E. Virginia Demos is a retired member of the clinical staff at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA, who continues to work in private practice as a clinical psychologist. She also previously taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is an authority on trauma and has also worked closely with Silvan Tomkins during her career, editing Exploring Affect: The Selected Writings of Silvan S. Tomkins (1995).

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health