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Affect and Script: Building Blocks of Community

Deppe, Susan Leigh
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Paper presented at “Dreaming of a New Reality,” the Third International Conference on Conferencing,
Circles and other Restorative Practices, August 8-10, 2002, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tomkins postulated nine innate affects, biological programs triggered by the intensity and shape of neural stimulation, displayed on the face and felt in the body. Two of the affects are inherently rewarding, one is neutral, and six are punishing. Affects are amplifiers; they make us aware of things and motivate us. We go through life having affects triggered, and other things become bad or good by being linked to them. Further, stimulus-affect-response sequences are frequent or powerful, we develop an emotional reaction to them. We make “”rules”” for managing such families of scenes, called scripts. Most of adult life is managed by scripts, largely outside of awareness. Scripts explain the variety of human behaviors, and help us understand the context of family, neighborhood, and culture. An overview of innate affect and script development will be followed by a look at Nathanson’s compass of shame, four script libraries by which we all manage that difficult affect. Tomkins’s blueprint for emotional health will explain why family group conferencing works. This workshop should be useful for participants in any work setting. Teaching methods: Lecture with slides, clinical vignettes, conference videotape and handouts; Q and A session. Author’s abstract


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