A Review by Tim Brunson, PhD
To see the nine affects (or emotions) displayed on the faces of infants alone may make purchasing Affect & Hypnosis: On paying friendly attention to disturbing thoughts worthwhile. This DVD is a recording of the keynote that Donald L. Nathanson, MD, gave at the 2008 annual meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. This world-renowned expert on affect (i.e. emotions and feelings) gave a brilliant presentation concerning the two positive, one neutral, and six negative affects displayed in clients and patients.
The clarity of his explanation opens up a deeper appreciation of the role of affect on behavior. I agree with his opinion that anyone involved in mental health needs to understand this topic. However, I would also expand this to practitioners in coaching and all integrative health care fields. His carefully crafted explanations, which he wonderfully embellished with applicable photos of infants, make his simplification of this complex topic extremely useful.
Especially noteworthy was is coverage of the final affect: shame. His discussion of public and private shame leaves no doubt as to why Dr. Nathanson receives the respect that he does. Understanding the role of shame in human communication – to include Internet spam – becomes clear. His elucidation has definitely heightened my appreciation for the topic.
After viewing this speech and laboriously taking over 35 pages of notes – as it is very content rich – I am equally impressed by the universality of his comments. As he points out, these nine affects are pervasive across boundaries, cultures, and through time. Nevertheless, I would be interested in seeing how his thoughts would play out in the realm of the neuroscientists – such as Richard Davidson, PhD, at University of Wisconsin and Andrew Newberg, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania. Likewise, to see a dialog between Dr. Nathanson and the epigenticist Bruce Lipton, PhD, would be priceless.
On the other hand, I was quite dismayed by the inclusion of the word "hypnosis" in the title of this magnificent presentation. In many ways it appeared that the word was merely tacked on to the title due to the name of the organization to which he was presenting. The tangential comments in the final minutes of his presentation do not make this a resource for hypnotherapists – should one not consider the strength of his presentation on affect and shame. I "one-liner" regarding the importance of affect on hypnosis was the only relevant tie-in. Otherwise, he appeared to be espousing a very predictable Ericksonian bias that was devoid of the same level of academic and clinical depth displayed in the bulk of this presentation.
Regardless of these miniscule concerns, I fully recommend this DVD to any integrative health care clinician and anyone else involved in the art of human communication. While I have not read any of his other writings, I believe that my education would be incomplete until I availed myself of that opportunity.