November 18, 2016
Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer
This is my twelfth response to “The basic emotional circuits of mammalian brains: Do animals have affective lives?” Unless we accept and understand our own affective lives, we will not be able to accept the affective lives of animals. I disagree with the often heard notion that by learning about animals we learn about ourselves. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t going to happen! Panksepp wouldn’t have had to write this paper if the opposite was true. We know as little about the affective lives of animals as we know so little about our own emotions.
Although Panksepp is unhappy with the pervasive communication style in the modern neurosciences and correctly describes it as “automatic” and “autocratic”, he doesn’t really go into this topic. Anyone who is familiar with the Sound Verbal Behavior/ Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) distinction would be telling you that Panksepp is describing NVB.
We cannot express or explore our own emotions as long as we remain engaged in NVB. Panksepp laments how his colleagues talk. “Currently a form of “ruthless reductionism” (behavior and brain count, but experience does not) rules among the functional neurosciences—among scientific practitioners who have the best empirical tools to address questions concerning the causal infrastructure of subjective experience.” Again he gives a perfect characterization of NVB, speech in which speakers and listeners disconnect from their feelings.
In NVB emphasis is always placed on understanding each other, but this verbal fixation disconnects communicators from their experience. In SVB, however, the listener’s experience of the speaker matters. In SVB, the speaker’s voice evokes positive emotions in the listener, which then facilitate understanding, but in NVB, the speaker’s voice elicits negative emotions in the listener, which make understanding impossible.