Through quite recent history, the research and findings related to affective neuroscience have been heartening (and exciting) to those of us – professionals and laypeople alike – who have been somewhat leery of the myth that ‘narrative is everything’ in psychotherapy: that ‘if you can’t think it and explain it, then it doesn’t exist.’ For those of us who have had these doubts as to the veracity of the absolute view that ‘everything must be brought to conscious, rational, cognitive, explainable level of mind,’ the affective neuroscience movement has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we have seen a light at the end of the tunnel as regards explanations and qualifications as to the existence of ‘a silent self’ – an ‘affect pusher or driver’ to what and who we are as sentient human beings. On the other hand, the affective neuroscience research has given us little that sways us toward exerting that new knowledge in a way that provides for effective therapy.
In other words, the frustration is that affective neuroscience shows us the facts, but does not show us how to use the facts - humanism does. Much of this has been because the intellectual (human) drivers of the affective neuroscience bus - the people, are, and have been historically steeped in the cognitive sciences anyway, and still seem to abide by the rules that material (knowledge) must be brought to conscious (understandable) level before any adjustments can be made to that material. We see this in the work of many professionals, who, while they have accepted fully the posits and findings of affective neuroscience, advocate that ‘because nonverbal affect material is buried so much deeper in the unconscious, it will require so much longer to express that material in a declarative (words spoken from thought constructs) way SO THAT it can then be made sense of, re-processed and adjusted at a cognitive level.’
These views can be seen to be expressed in the work of many researchers in affective neuroscience.
It seems to be the habit of scientists in general to focus on and be excited about scientific observation and “proving existence” in their fields while exercising scant attention to, or interest in, how their findings can be generated in a way that is practically useful. This is not unusual in science, and so it should be, as scientists do their job more successfully as they obey the confining strictures of attentional non-distribution(spellbound in tunnel-vision) – focusing only on their research. But, what of “how” this research can help humanity?
Over the time span of the existence of affective neuroscience, we have seen these very important findings slotted into the traditional (mainstream) view of psychotherapy – that is that “the vehicle to be used to reach non-verbal affective encodings has to drive down the traditionally established roads, and those are to do with uncovering, explaining, understanding, verbalizing, cognitively rehabilitating.” A serious flaw that seems to have gone unnoticed by most professions and the public as a whole.
This, then, is a classic case of those professionals having spent so long with a screwdriver in their hand, that they only notice screws to fit their scenario. Affective neuroscience seems to be (within their reality) simply showing them that the screws may be very much longer. But what of other more subtle connectors?
The two-decade long development, proving and series adjustment of Af-x – Clinical Affectology – has sought to do two important things:
In conclusion, affective neuroscience is fundamental to Clinical Affectology and Af-x, but over time, Af-x has ORGANISED the research in practice-focused ways, and SHIFTED the vehicle required to apply the facts from cognitive ways and means to affect ways and means.
If someone were to ask me, “What substantiates your work? Where does it get its qualification? What’s its skeleton? How do you know what you’re saying is correct?” .......One of the ways we can do that more easily is to provide a passage from a transcript of an actual first session of Ian White. It is brief, but it creates a particular morphology that focuses a client’s “idea” about Af-x into its correct placement.
Although Affective Neuroscience laboratories exist in a number of universities throughout the world, most are interested in what is termed “broad-spectrum” research and study – that is, investigating the myriad issues related to variable human affective states at all stages throughout life. In Af-x, we are wholly concerned with the findings that relate to what we learn and habitualize at preverbal developmental times (before verbal emergence) and maintain as affect perseverations well into adulthood. Even though the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison IS one of the establishments that carries out broad-spectrum research, its findings in terms of preverbal affect establishment are germane to our own study of affectology.
You may be interested in visiting the websites:
For the last decade and a half, it has been, it seems, easy for people, laypeople and professionals alike, to relegate Af-x and clinical affectology to the realm of “New Age” or “alternative” and it has been easy to ASSUME that Af-x is the product of entrepeneurial construction, with its subsequent “making up of a story to fit” the underlying concepts of Af-x, but it has been dependent on the proof through ESR studies that the concept 'hold water'.
In this regard, it would be true to say that Af-x practitioners have high regard for the science but even more regard for the application of that science to something that is practical, workable and successful.
The fact is that our work is heavily built on the decades of research into affective neuroscience and relies upon it for its “qualifying.” In fact, without the body of affective neuroscientific research having been initially conducted and established as “real science,” Af-x would not exist today.
Affective neuroscience has enjoyed an increase in acknowledgement and professional interest over these past years, and for that we are thankful. But nowhere in the texts is there any reference to the fact that research into the actuality of part-permanent encoding of affect reactions means by extension that these encodings are inaccessible through narrative means. Our view is that neuroscientists interested only in the science do not have experiential skills or the inclination to consider practical ways and means to make a difference at that “affect adult” level. And – neuroscientists with a neuropsycho-logical background have focused on attendant ways and means only through the vehicle in which they are steeped and conditioned – narrative psychotherapy. So the lineage and provenance of affective neuroscience, while vital to Affectology and Af-x, has not offered practical means to deal with preverbal affect perseveration into adult life.
For proponents of Af-x, this means that we have needed to USE the proven fundamentals of affective neuroscience as a salient matrix to our development of practical and successful “therapeutic ways and means” but not become too absorbed in the data itself, particularly when that data has not offered any real and effective solutions.
So, for this reason Af-x proponents do not wholly enter the world of affective neuroscience in all its interesting and complete detail, but utilise the findings in reconstructing an advanced methodology that we call Af-x and Clinical Affectology.
So the presence of affective neuroscience in our lexicon not only “backs” and qualifies Af-x work, but provides it with the most important TOTEMIC ISSUE upon which Clinical Affectology bases its propositions. ... and that is ...
Af-x and Clinical Affectology do not exist in a vacuum. The construction of the knowledge and data that support it are due to the efforts of Affective Neuroscience. Bringing that data to the fore as WORKABLE in helping people re-balance emotional problems is due to the re-construction of ways to directly access human subconscious 'emotional source encodings' has been the realm of the development of Ian White's Af-x Therapy.