Feelings: Tomkin’s 9 Innate Core Affects
Feelings are very important since they are central both to human identity and to the experience of self. Feelings are also important messengers and guides of needs and desires, both for the individual and for communication among humans.
Still, there is not a shared definition of feelings. The Tomkins Institute helps us with the following definitions:
A feeling is an awareness of an affect.
An affect is a biological response to neural firing which results in a particular feeling, facial and body expressions, as well as skin changes. Thus, affects are the biological system that underlies emotion.
An emotion is a feeling plus memory of prior similar feelings.
The researcher Silvan Tomkins has had a great impact on the research field. He identified 9 innate affects which are either rewarding, punishing, or neutral with the purpose to create a sense of urgency: bringing things to our attention and motivating us to act in a certain way:
There are two inherently rewarding affects, i.e. we want more of this:
1. Interest-Excitement to strive toward mastery
2. Enjoyment-Joy to strengthen social bonds.
The neutral and brief
3. Surprise-Startle to stop and shift attention, and five inherently punishing affects motivating us to change the situation:
The six negative affects:
4. Distress-Anguish to get help
5. Anger-Rage to fight and alter the situation
6. Fear-Terror to flee or freeze
7. Shame-Humiliation for self-protection and social control
8. Disgust to get rid off and finally
9. Dissmell to pull away and keep distance.
This week’s exercise: Go back in your diary and see which feelings that are frequent and which feelings you would like to have more of/less of. Also, evaluate how quickly and strongly your feelings were triggered and how long it took for the feelings to dissolve. After this, pick 2-3 emotions that you would like to understand/change your response pattern to.
#feelings #selfhelp #feelingsexercise