November 9, 2016
Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer
This is my third response to “The basic emotional circuits of mammalian brains: Do animals have affective lives?” by Jaak Panksepp (2011). “Since all vertebrates appear to have some capacity for primal affective feelings, the implications for animal-welfare and how we ethically treat other animals are vast.” Although Panksepp advocates for animals, he is putting the proverbial horse behind the wagon. It is out of the question that animals have affective lives. The real question he should ask is: how do we humans communicate our affective lives?
Researchers investigate the affective lives of animals hoping they will learn something about the affective lives of humans. Our language gets in the way of expressing our primary emotions. Panksepp writes about animal welfare, but, of course, human welfare is at stake. Without the accurate expression of our primary emotional processes there can be no human-welfare, and, consequently, no animal-welfare. Furthermore, since we humans also “have some capacity for primal affective feelings, the implications” for “how we ethically treat other” humans “are vast.”
Only if we engage in Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) will we be able to know more about our own affective lives. It is not coincidental that we are still so often involved in Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB), which induces negative affect. Humans are still in the process of learning how to express their emotions with language. Our words get in the way of expressing our feelings. Due to our repeated failures to accurately express our feelings, we make it seem, while engaged in NVB, as if we don’t even have any emotions, as if our emotional expression is not necessary anymore or as if we don’t even need to have affective lives.