_Ambrose Bierce, American satirist, wrote Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think and went on to add, Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.) Even in 1900, and although a confirmed cynic, Bierce understood that 'the thinking part' of the human brain had little to do with the underlying emotional strata.
We do not want to overload you with more detail than is necessary about the complexities of affective neuroscience. There's more to be read if you so wish here. But it is important to know that Af-x has one very solid foot planted in what we know about the processes that the brain employs in learning, developing, perseverating* and locking into unconscious reactive memory, the very things that make us who we are. The other solid foot is in humanism.
_You may be interested in visiting Wikipedia's entry on the subject, although it does not describe its direct relevance to affectology or clinical affectology . For decades now, there have been Affective Neuroscience laboratories and departments in well-renowned Universities in many parts of the world. The “science” of affective neurological development has concerned itself mainly with determining just how we learn affect responses and “encode” or “imprint” that information at a time well before we learned to speak and form cognitive constructs. So, we feel we need to state that there is nothing about Affectology (or its variant clinical forms) that is conjecture or propositions made to fit the therapy. In fact, the therapy has grown out of the facts presented by science.
But, we are careful not to place science per se on any pedestal. There is plenty of bad science. We, of course, view affective neuroscience as being good science. It really makes so much good humanistic sense. And our work is firmly centered around decades of neuro-physiology, neuro-psychology and developmental psychology; particularly the development of our emotional and feeling, or affect, selves.
Where the original and ancient notions of humanism were intended to sideline the utter focus on things divine and supernatural, the 'affectology humanism' of today intends to sideline - but pay some appropriate homage to - the divinity that much of society holds toward science. We tread a central path.
But we believe it is enough to say that ALL the theories and propositions that make up clinical affectology and Affectology are based on decades of qualified research. Further to this, we have been diligent in maintaining our client feedback system over two decades, so, because we know that clinical affectology achieves success in the majority of cases, we cannot say any more than - by extension - what underpins our approach must be useful and 'good' science.
In the business of 'not overloading you with technical data' it is enough to use this single page as an introduction to the FACT that clinical affectology has very solid foundations in intelligent affective neuroscience, with another foot of the foundation firmly planted in humanism.
To that end, this short essay will serve to provide the sort of information that I would usually give if someone were to ask me, “What substantiates your work? Where does it get its qualification? What’s its skeleton? How do you know what you’re saying is correct?”
Feelings - Emotion - Affect
Feelings and emotions are not the same thing. If affectology based its concept and structure on “emotions,” we would head down a very complex path AWAY from the fundamental underpinnings of our work. In the strictest of terms, “emotion” is a symptom of more underlying dynamics – feeling dynamics – and you already know that clinical affectology respectfully sidelines “symptoms” and is concerned only with nuclear cause. In the case of affectology, that nuclear cause is “affect” – colloquially, “feeling.”
But as a matter of social comfort, it’s difficult to divorce ourselves entirely from an idea that has become popular in our society. The majority of the public “thinks” it knows what emotion is and is becoming less afraid of its entrée into everyday language. We clinical affectologists use the word emotion often in any attempt to explain our work simply because it is an easier understanding bridge to public knowledge than are the words “feelings” or “affect.” But we must make an effort to help clients understand the distinction. Affectology is about AFFECT.
Specifically, Affectology as a theoretical construct and clinical affectology as the applied practical approach are interested in the irrefutable facts that surround the development of an 'affect matrix' during times of very early development (preverbal development between several weeks prior to birth and the verbal emergent stage some months after birth). Science tells us that this matrix - or sub-personality held at unconscious level - is highly influential in the ways in which we build on our emotional existence later in life. To study quantum psychology and chaos theory in advanced mathematics (strange nonchaotic attractors) shows us that it is not only possible, but highly probable that everything we are today in terms of our 'emotional selves' has a connection with the affect initiators learned and encoded preverbally. Exciting!
Let's repeat that highly important point in a different way - Any undesired subconscious responses that you have TODAY are highly likely to be influenced by, or driven by, traces of established emotional originators that were learned before your ability to think, much less apply words to, so are unexplainable and exist well outside the realm of the backward-looking style of most talk therapies.
Further to this, 'science' clearly shows that the remnants of emotional learning that are still in existence today are state-dependent - that is that they exist only in the state in which they were learned; - non-verbal.
This, then, becomes the realm of the 'client-silence' approach of clinical affectology. The fit is perfect!