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The Feeling System and its Disruption

The Feeling System and its Disruption

Feeling is present in the stream of experience from the womb to the tomb. The earliest forms of organisation are based around the infant’s overall reaction to sensations, relational life, and the experience of moving and doing. Feeling is experienced as a “whole body” / “whole person” phenomenon, in contrast to localised sensations. This is because it operates cross-modally on the basis of apperception. In a sense the raw stimuli of sensation and movement are translated into the “language” of feeling.

From the first cry, affective expression plays a crucial communicative role in maximizing and maintaining relationships of significance. It can be thought of as a “first language”, reflecting a primary level of integration that eventually becomes coordinated with verbal language. Processes of social engagement and nuanced feeling are also easily disrupted by trauma and the induction of vehement emotions such as disgust, rage, contempt, shame, hatred and guilt. For each person vehement emotions will challenge the capacity for containment, the ‘window of tolerance’.

This talk will offer a perspective on feeling relevant to psychotherapeutic engagement, where the endeavour is towards providing a zone for the growth of complex personal feeling.

Speakers: Anthony Korner