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TitleArchaeology of Mind
File Size5.1 MB
Total Pages347
Table of Contents
Half title
Preface and Acknowledgments
Chapter 1 Ancestral Passions
Chapter 2 The Evolution of Affective Consciousness: Studying Emotional Feelings in Other Animals
Chapter 3 The SEEKING System: Brain Sources of Eager Anticipation, Desire, Euphoria, and the Quest for Everything
Chapter 4 The Ancestral Sources of RAGE
Chapter 5 The Ancestral Roots of FEAR
Chapter 6 Beyond Instincts: Learning and the Affective Foundations of Memory
Chapter 7 LUSTful Passions of the Mind: From Reproductive Urges to Romantic Love
Chapter 8 Nurturing Love: The CARE System
Chapter 9 Born to Cry: The PANIC/GRIEF System and the Genesis of Life-Sustaining Social Bonds
Chapter 10 PLAYful Dreamlike Circuits of the Brain: The Ancestral Sources of Social Joy and Laughter
Chapter 11 Toward a Neurobiology of the Soul: The Core SELF and the Genesis of Primary-Process Feelings
Chapter 12 Brain Emotional Systems and Affective Qualities of Mental Life: From Animal Affects to Human Psychotherapeutics
Chapter 13 Philosophical Reflections and Complaints: Can We Go From Mice to Men and Back Again?
Document Text Contents
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psychosexual development. However, it does not inform us about the true nature of psychosexual
development in childhood or about any aspect of the culturally driven tertiary-process level of BrainMind
emergence. This leaves psychotherapists in the unsatisfactory position of having many unanswered questions
—especially about sexual development. For example, does homosexuality entail an activation of brain sites
and chemicals typical of the opposite sex? Do homosexual girls have denser cell populations in the anterior
hypothalamus, and are their brains more replete with testosterone and vasopressin? Are homosexual boys in a
commensurate position, with greater sensitivity in the ventromedial hypothalamus and greater oxytocin
activity? We have no answers to these questions in humans. We do in several other species of animals,
especially laboratory rats and mice. But, of course, humans are not rats or walruses or monkeys. So how
strongly should we believe in the general principles that are emerging from the incorrectly so-called ‘lower

With regard to sexual pathology in childhood, we are equally ignorant. Does sexual overstimulation in
childhood result in the premature activation of sexual brain sites and chemicals? Why are parentally neglected
children disinclined to touch their genitals? Are their sexual brain chemistries at a low level and, if so, what
has made them dwindle? These are just a few of many questions about human sexual development and all the
other emotions as they emerge into tertiary-process thought and cultural awareness, which remain to be fully
answered. There remains a gulf between neuroscience and psychoanalytic theories of psychosexual
development, not to mention human cultural life. Modern neuroscience gives us good reasons to question
classical psychoanalytic theories about component instincts, but it has not yet provided evidence, and
probably simply can’t, to fill the vast chasm between our knowledge of ancestral tools for living and the
individual lives that spin out the endless varieties of human existence. This highlights that neuroscientific and
more complex psychological and sociological analyses need to work together to obtain a fuller understanding
of human complexities.


In this chapter we have discussed some of the insights that modern neuroscience has shed on our
understanding of sexuality in mammals. We have seen that sexual circuitry and sexual chemistry in male and
female brains are different. In males, the anterior hypothalamus is the focus of sexuality and testosterone
mediates the production of vasopressin, which accounts for much of male sexual behavior. In females, the
ventromedial hypothalamus is part of the primary-process sexual locus of control and the main sexual
chemicals are estrogen and progesterone. These hormones in turn mediate the activity of oxytocin, a
neuromodulator that significantly governs female sexual responses. Although oxytocin has been popularized
as the “love hormone,” we conclude that this is a simplification of its role, because it may not produce
much positive affect. Instead, oxytocin may enhance the activity of endogenous opioids, which produce much
of the positive affects triggered by oxytocin administration. Nevertheless, it is clear that oxytocin does

the generation of positive social affects, especially confidence and trust, that are important for
competent motherhood. We expect opioids do the same, and at high doses even to the point where people do
not need other people, leading to the social isolation of addicts.

Sexuality in mammals, at the primary-process level, is a product of the LUST circuitries. But is LUST a
true affect, or is it better classified as a homeostatic or sensory affect? We conclude that it deserves
to be considered as an emotional affect because it directly produces complex instinctual sexual behaviors,
along with the associated raw affects, from sheer eroticism to orgasms. And such psychobehavioral action
tendencies are the hallmark of primary-process emotions. In females of many species, sexual arousal promotes
the sexually receptive position of the lordosis reflex and in males it produces commensurate sexual behaviors
of solicitation, mounting, intromission (successful thrusting), and ejaculation.

Sexuality is further complicated (especially at the tertiary-process level for humans) because the sexual
body and the sexual brain develop along different trajectories in utero. The male brain is created when
testosterone is converted to estrogen and the male body is created when testosterone is converted to DHT. All
fetal bodies are initially female and if there is no interference, the female body will continue to develop. The
female brain and mind, however, may be masculinized if the fetus is exposed to too much estrogen at crucial
times in the second trimester.

The topic of sexuality, as all other emotions, is riddled with unanswered questions. What determines the
diversity of reproductive strategies in closely related primate species? What determines different strategies
within a given species? How do environmental influences determine sexual expression in human beings?
What might be the chemical and neural correlates to these differences? And a crucial question for every
psychotherapist is how does the sexual drive—how does LUST—develop during childhood? One can ask


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2It should be noted that a great deal of wonderful work on the details of the unconditional mammalian FEAR system has emerged from several
laboratories in Brazil, most prominently from investigators working with Frederico Graeff (e.g., Del-Ben & Graeff, 2009) and Marcus Brandão
(Brandão et al., 2005).


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1The computer revolution promoted the notion that deeply biological minds could be computed on silicon platforms—a vision that prevailed in
the new cognitive sciences and seems alive and well in many other corners of the academy (see Panksepp, 2008c).


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