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Now we can move on. Each affect which promotes—i.


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These innate behavioral tendencies—of which there are a great many—consist in hard-wired predictions i. In short, we execute these actions because they are designed to meet our inescapable biological needs—e. These two concepts—innate needs and their associated predictions —underpin everything else I am going to say in this section.

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Universal agreement about the number of such needs and the associated innate behavioral predictions in the human brain has not been achieved, 5 but most mainstream taxonomies include at least a subset of the following emotional ones:. It is felt as interest, curiosity and the like. This is felt as lust. This instinct is sexually dimorphic on average but male and female inclinations exist in both genders. Like all other biological appetites, lust is channeled through seeking 7.

This is fear.


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  • This is rage. Separation from attachment figures is felt not as fear but as panic , and loss of them is felt as despair. This is the so-called maternal instinct, but it exists to varying degrees in both genders. This focus is somewhat arbitrary, but I am highlighting the category of emotional needs because these most commonly give rise to psychopathology.

    In saying this, I do not wish to deny that bodily needs, too, can be enlisted in psychopathology e. But, typically, these needs are only secondarily implicated in the psychological troubles that arise primarily from the patient's inability to meet their emotional needs see next section.

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    The Psychoanalytic Ideas Series

    I do not want to make too much of these taxonomic issues. The same applies to the disagreements between Panksepp and Ekman, say, regarding which emotions are or are not the truly basic ones. For example, Ekman considers disgust to be a basic emotion, whereas Panksepp considers it to be a sensory affect. Either way, it is certainly true that disgust, like hunger and pain, can readily be enlisted in psychopathology. I say again, here we are dealing mainly with matters of principle, not with empirical details. The principle remains: human beings—no less than other species of animal—have innate biological needs some of which may be described as bodily drives and some of which may be described as emotional instincts and some of which may be described as sensory reflexes.

    All of these needs are ultimately felt as effects.

    Psychodynamic Approach

    And all of them have to be acted upon. This last point leads us to the second core claim of psychoanalysis. The main task of mental development is to learn how to meet our needs in the world. We do not learn for its own sake; we do so in order to establish optimal predictions see above as to how we may meet our needs in a given environment. Learning is necessary because even innate predictions have to be reconciled with lived experience.

    Evolution predicts how we should behave in, say, dangerous situations in general, but it cannot predict all possible dangers; each individual has to learn what to fear and how best to respond to the variety of actual dangers they are confronted with. The most crucial lessons are learned during critical periods, mainly in early childhood, when we are—unfortunately—not best equipped to deal with the fact that our innate predictions often conflict with one another e.

    This often involves substitute-formation. Humans also have a large capacity for delaying gratification and for temporarily satisfying their needs in imaginary and symbolic ways. This capacity is of course bound up with our large cortico-thalamic mantle, and in particular with its prefrontal component.

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    I now move to something fundamental. It is crucial to recognize that successful predictions entail successful affect regulation, and vice-versa. This is because our needs are felt. Thus, successful avoidance of attack reduces fear, successful reunion after separation reduces panic, etc. Please note that this formulation implies that only unmet needs are felt. Indeed, the meeting of a need is heralded precisely by the disappearance of the relevant feeling satiation.

    Increasing hunger is felt as unpleasurable and decreasing hunger relieving hunger through eating is felt as pleasurable. These affects indicate the direction of change in the underlying demand see Solms and Friston, But once the demand disappears, the feeling both unpleasurable and pleasurable likewise disappears. Satiation removes feelings from the radar of consciousness. Importantly, this implies that lack of affectivity is the ideal state of the organism. He equated his Nirvana principle i. There is an inherent contradiction in the view that removing all needs i.

    This is not the place to go into all the complexities of this arcane issue. He did not realize that feelings of pleasure and unpleasure are in fact servants of the Nirvana principle i. They merely indicate whether one is heading further from or closer toward the desired Nirvana i. It just means they are not expressions of an elemental drive. In my view the clinical phenomena in question are just that—clinical—i. Thus, for example, the heroin addict achieves the illusion of meeting their attachment needs which are mu opioid mediated by artificially achieving the desired affect that occurs with the presence of the caregiver without actually undertaking the work of really finding her, and what is more, without working out how to make her stay.

    This failure i. Such aberrations are bound to end badly; because, in reality, we mammals need actual caregivers, not illusions of care. Returning to the central point: the main task of mental development is to learn how to meet our needs in the world. As explained above, learning is necessary because even innate predictions have to be reconciled with lived experience.

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    This is a fact. Now we can add some theory. This statement is predicated on the above facts about the affective basis of consciousness. Conscious experience is felt experience. As noted previously, the biological good and bad here correspond to pleasurable vs.

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    In short, exteroceptive consciousness takes the form: I feel this about that. Without feeling, therefore, there could be no choice. And without choice there could be no surviving in unpredicted environments, and therefore no learning from experience. Of crucial importance here is the fact that we are talking mainly about prospective experience.

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    There is little biological point in learning about the likely consequences of jumping in front of a moving train by actually trying it out. Working memory mainly entails virtual action, not physical action. Thinking is a process of deliberation which arises instead of and prior to action. This is crucial. This is how we supplement our innate priors the rough-and-ready prior predictions we are born with without actually having to commit ourselves to life-threatening courses of action, in conditions of uncertainty.

    This, in my view, is the only reason why cognition needs to become conscious. As we know, cognition typically remains unconscious for the classical reviews, see Kihlstrom, ; Bargh and Chartrand, In short: our cognitions become conscious only to the extent that we need to feel them. Later we shall see that, since thinking necessarily requires inhibition of action—i. To be clear: I am not saying that thinking entails unconscious cognition plus affect two things ; I am saying it entails conscious cognition one thing , which is something quite different. In thermodynamic terms, this binding means that the state of the driving energy in the mind is transformed through useful mental work see Carhart-Harris and Friston, But here comes another crucial point.

    Working memory cognitive consciousness is a very limited resource ; so, it has to be used sparingly.