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Affects as Process: An Inquiry into the Centrality of Affect in Psychological Life (1995)
Jones, Joseph M.
Routledge / The Analytic Press / Softcover / 2015-04-01 / 1138872369
price: $72.70 (may be subject to change)
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In this readable meditation on the nature of emotional experience, Joseph Jones takes the reader on a fascinating walking-tour of current research findings bearing on emotional development. Beginning with a nuanced reappraisal of Freud's philosophical premises, he argues that Freud's reliance on "primary process" as the means of linking body and mind inadvertantly stripped affects of their process role. Further, the resulting emphasis on fantasy left the problem of conceptualizing the mental life of the prerepresentational infant in a theoretical limbo.

Affects as Process offers an elegantly simple way out of this impasse. Drawing in the literatures of child development, ethology, and neuroscience, Jones argues that, in their simplest form, affects are best understood as the presymbolic representatives and governors of motivational systems. So conceptualized, affects, and not primary process, constitute the initial processing system of the prerepresentational infant. It then becomes possible to re-vision early development as the sequential maturation of different motivational systems, each governed by a specific presymbolic affect. More complex emotional states, which emerge when the toddler begins to think symbolically, represent the integration of motivational systems and thought as maturation plunges the child into a world of loves and hates that cannot be escaped simply through behavior. Jones' reappraisal of emotional development in early childhood and beyond clarifies the strengths and weaknesses of such traditional concepts as infantile sexuality, object relations, internalization, splitting, and the emergence of the dynamic unconscious. The surprising terminus of his excursion, moreover, is the novel perspective on the self as an emergent phenomenon reflecting the integration of affective and symbolic processing systems.


"Good analysts have always known that affect is where the therapeutic action is, but have long lamented the absence of a comprehensive psychoanalytic theory of affectivity. In Affects as Process, Joseph Jones has filled this glaring gap in the literature brilliantly. Beginning with the proposition that affect is a presymbolic mode of knowing oneself and the world, Jones mends the traditional false dichotomy between affect and cognition and offers not only a beautiful account of the ontogeny of emotional life but important insights into the development of thought as well. Rich in clinical implications and written in a wonderfully lucid style, this gem of a volume is destined to become a psychological classic."

- Robert G. Stolorow, Ph.D., Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles

"In this trailblazing book on affect, Josepf Jones offers a radical and, to my mind, absolutely necessary reexamination of fundamental psychoanalytic assumptions about affects. His demonstration that the precursors of affect operate from the beginning of life is a tremendous step forward in our understanding of posttraumatic stress. Likewise, his reconceptualization of affects as 'process' that significantly determines how we think and act will be the basis for modifying many important theories and practices."

- Henry Krystal, M.D., Michigan State University

"This is a groundbreaking book, a truly modern, highly intelligent, and always thought-provoking study of the development, structure, and function of affect in psychological life. Affects as Process represents a major contribution to contemporary affect theory."

- Thomas Ogden, M.D., Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California


I. Is Primary Process Primary?

- In the Beginning

- Freud, Darwin, and Descartes

- Affects as Composites

- The Search for Primitive Thought

- Is Primary Process Primary?

II. Affects as Process

- The Language of Affectivity

- Moods

- Lust, Libido, and Love

- Contentment, Excitement, and Joy

- Fear

- Anxiety and Traumatic States

- Aggression and Rage

- The Prereflective Roots of Shame

- Presymbolic Character Structure

- The Development of Thought

- Rapprochement

- Object Relations and Object Constancy

- Love, Hate, and the Dynamic Unconscious

- Thought Dysfunctions

- Psychosexual Development and Motivational Systems

- Affects and the Self

About the Author:

Joseph M. Jones, M.D., is a Training and Supervising Analyst as the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He is on the clinical faculty of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and maintains a private practice in the West Los Angeles area.

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