Customer Reviews: The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
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on October 7, 2012
I would have to say that this is the most transformational book I've read in a decade. It consolidates Panksepp's 30 years of research on human and animal emotions, and supports similar studies as well. What you and I have been calling emotions would be better stated as feelings: conscious cognitive reflections of the emotional experiences that drive us to take action in the world.

The most important emotion is SEEKING, which I call the "desire/acquire" circuit in the brain. When we see, hear, taste, or experience something new, different, and interesting, lower brain functions wake us up and release dopamine, one of the main pleasure neurochemicals in the brain. This gives rise to consciousness (activity in specific parts of our frontal lobe) in all mammals, and perhaps even for birds and reptiles. Humans have larger frontal lobes, thus we have a wider range of conscious choices. This consciousness gives rise to secondary emotions that are more diverse than the primary emotions of SEEKING, CARING, FEAR, ANGER, LUST, PLAY/JOY and SADNESS, which Panksepp has meticulously mapped out in terms of brain structures, functions, and neurochemicals.

The most surprising emotion he documents is PLAY, without which animals and humans would not be able to develop cooperative social behavior and empathy. Fear, anger, and sadness have made it into popular literature with 50% accuracy, but SEEKING and PLAY have not been talked about much. SEEKING motivates us to take action, and PLAY gives us the skills to build thriving relationships with others. His summary of the nature of consciousness is brilliant, but be forewarned: there's a lot of scholarly material and academic research discussed here. But if you are a therapist, a teacher, or a person who wants to understand how our emotional biology creates our world of consciousness, this book will arouse your precuneus and blow your mind (or should I say dorsolateral prefrontal cortex).

I'd place Panksepp as one of the 10 most important neuroscientists of the century.
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on October 9, 2012
As a psychology student, I found myself quite disenchanted with the current state of the various fields of psychology. The further a delved into the research and various models of consciousness produced over the last century, the less it made sense. It seemed that psychology was more of an art than a science - looking at men such as Freud, Skinner, and Pavlov, it appeared they took only the most perfunctory scientific foundations and applied them to their own creative speculations on how the mind functioned. Psychology appeared to be a sort of Frankenstein's monster, composed of soft science, personal philosophy, and wild guesses. Then I found out about Jaak Panksepp and his enormous body of research. Panksepp is a hard science researcher who has accumulated an enormous weight of evidentiary support for his revolutionary model of how the brain produces consciousness. This book is the culmination of decades of meticulous research done by one of the finest neuroscientists in the world. Panksepp's bottom-up, nested hierarchy model of consciousness represents a radical paradigm shift away from the half-truths provided by the "computational model" that had guided research in the field of neuroscience for the past century. This computational (or learning) model has never been experimentally validated and completely ignores the relevance of the brains subcortical primary process emotional circuitry. Panksepp has provided us with a unified theory of the mind that reintroduces emotions into the equation. I recommend this book to anyone with a burning desire to understand who they are and why they feel what they feel. Jaak Panksepp's research has changed the way I look at psychology, and when his model of consciousness replaces the computational model, Panksepp's work is going to change the world.
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on February 24, 2013
This is a very interesting overview of the author's life-time work in the field of affective neuroscience. It's reasonably accessible to the non-specialist, bringuing lots of interesting information and some intriguing ideas. However, the text is a bit convoluted and overly repetitive and too technical at times. It's also somewhat confused, nebulous and sloppy in its philosophical approaches and conclusions, sometimes giving too much credit to postmodernism and Freud, while at the same time supporting an objective and naturalistic approach to the study of emotions, consciousness and affection.
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on January 29, 2013
A BOOK ALL EDUCATED PEOPLE SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH. It is an account of the most important and paradigm changing research into the BrainMind ever written. Not an easy read because Professor Panksepp needed to include so much detail in a complex and interlinking field of study, but as he suggests, read it as a novel and an intellectual adventure, and you will find what he says jibes with how your BrainMind behaves and feels.
Beyond star rating.
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on April 11, 2013
This is a real mind changer. The best, most illuminating and scientific work on the fundamental cores of experience I have read in twenty years.
A classic of the the Revolution in Neuroscience at a deeper level than the Cognitive Model of the Mind.
It is also very well written and a pleasure to read.
Dr Robert Wentworth
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on March 1, 2014
Let's say we do an archaeological dig into the evolutionary recesses of the mind in order to discover consciousness, a sort of Indiana Jones adventure seeking that Holy Grail. That is exactly the adventure neurologist Jaak Panksepp has engaged in and proposes in his new book "Archaeology of the Mind."

"How does it come to pass that the material processes of the brain beget a mind, a `me'?" (p. 392) In what might be considered an attempt to identify neural correlates of consciousness, Panksepp argues that neuroscience can best answer this question, not from the traditional top down (examining the neurocortex, i.e, cognition) but nontraditionally from the bottom up (medial brain-stem regions, i.e. affect): Panksepp, Affective Neuroscience, 1998).

Panksepp argues for a primary process of the mind, a "Simple Ego-type Life Form (SELF),"-- the coherent center of gravity for internal organismic visceral-affective and external sensory-motor representations." (p. 390)., which he calls Dual-Aspect [visceral/sensory] Monism [Brain, subcortical and cortical].

Panksepp also refers to the embodied "core-SELF, " or primary-process self, "a primordial representation the body, especially the visceral body, within the brain" as the "foundation for affective `being" and the emergence of the higher [neocortical] mental apparatus" p. 390.

While Descartes's "cogito ergo sum" only confirmed the existence of thinking, which is a disembodied form of higher consciousness" he only "implicitly accepted that the existence of consciousness, along with a coherent and stable set of autobiographical memories, implied the existence of a self." (p. 421)

Panksepp asserts that "midline systems in the brain, which give all mammals a universal (nomothetic) core SELF, [and] can support various renditions of the self (idiographic forms) in other regions of the brain related to higher information processing." "The self initially evolved as a homologous nomothetic core SELF which helps the rest of the brain elaborate more idiographic forms of self-hood."

"Primary-process emotional systems play a pivotal role in the functioning of the core SELF." "Affects are created when midline systems assume distinct types of neuronal firing patterns when the various emotional networks [the seven identified] are aroused." "Primary-process affects always evaluate the internal and external world in relation to the survival of the individual, and the species . . . and are [thus] `active' information-seeking creatures." (p. 421)

So Panksepp is founding neural correlates of consciousness in the SCMS (subcortical, affective) and only secondarily in the CMS (cortical, cognitive).

Therefore, in accordance with his dual-aspect monism, "subcortical midline emotional systems (SCMS) concurrently generate various behavioral physiological, and affective emotional manifestations through a coherent integrated system for SELF representation." (p. 422)
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on January 15, 2013
Although technical, this book is thought provoking and fits with my 25 years as a therapist. This book will serve as a turning point in understanding emotion.
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on May 11, 2016
From page 389-390: "Perhaps the primal nature of experience cannot be clarified without realistic 'embodied' visions of what it means to have a 'core SELF'--which, with a bit of poetic license, might even be referred to as our animalian 'soul.'

Familiarity with the structures by which reality is experienced must be acquired prior to accurate descriptions, let alone explanations. Those who seek to clarify human experience should find this concept of a core SELF extremely helpful.
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on July 1, 2014
If you want a book that gets to the heart of what it means to be a human mammal, you'll enjoy this one. Panksepp and Biven give you in-depth insight with engaging sharing. Not your average science book. This is one of the best and you can actually understand it without having to be a scientist.
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on December 3, 2012
As Dr. Panksepp wrote: "This book is an updating and an attempt at popularizing an earlier textbook, 'Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions' (1998)."

My suggestion would be to read the first six pages of the Preface of 'Archaeology'[->Look Inside], it gives the interested person a fine introduction to the work, his unique contribution to the field and of his style. There are many videos/articles with/by Jaak Pansepp freely available on the Internet.
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