Physical Punishment—and Violence

Physical punishment is damaging to the mental health of children and the societies in which we live. There are alternatives that build on children's ability to integrate feelings, language, and cognition.

Affects, Language, and Cognition

For many months, we have been exploring the three pillars of human development: Affects (Feelings), Language, and Cognition. We have tried to make the case that there is a revolution in our understanding of human development. I have suggested that this revolution has tremendous potential for enhancing development.

Feelings: How and What Does a Baby Understand?

The three pillars of development: Feelings (affects), language, and cognition.

Beyond the Toddler Years

We are continuing our exploration of the three pillars of human development--Affects (Feelings), Language, and Cognition. This month we wrap up the section of Language by examining the link between feelings and words, a process we call translation.


Language represents a huge developmental leap. Think of all the things we can accomplish with our words and language. We can enhance relationships with our children. We can share feelings and ideas.


Language has been described as one of humans' most important evolutionary advances. We will explore language with specific reference to individual development and its relationship to affects and cognition.

What Is Anger -- Part II

Anger is often overlooked or misunderstood in psychopathology as well as in everyday relationships. In pathology, one sees anger behind a variety of symptoms. Clinical work shows us that fear of anger and loss of control often are behind these symptoms.

What Is Anger -- Part I

Anger may be the most misunderstood feeling. It is one of the negative affects. Thus, like all negative affects, anger is an SOS signal. Excessive anger leads to distress, another negative affect. They are linked and appear to depend on the quantity of the stimulus. What is their mechanism of action?

Addendum to Curiosity

Babies readily demonstrate the classic facial expression of interest (curiosity). Of all our feelings, the affect of interest-excitement may be most crucial. Interest involves exploratory and learning activities.

Interferences of Interest in the Talking Child

For some time now, we have been immersed in feelings. Most recently, we have explored the crucial feeling of interest (curiosity) and what enhances and inhibits it. Last month, we examined the ways in which curiosity can be constricted in infancy, i.e. the preverbal child. This month, we discuss how curiosity can be restricted as the child begins to use words.

Enhancing Curiosity

The affect of interest is responsible for our exploratory activities, learning, and adaptation. The key questions in development, then, are "What enhances interest?" and "What inhibits interest?" These questions are crucial to character structure, parenting, education, politics, and much more.

Origins of Interest

In the various models of emotions, then, we see most make some reference to interest, or attention, or curiosity. This is true regardless of whether or not the model is more psychological or biological or integrated. The affect of interest is crucial. It is in the basis of our learning, gathering information, and adapting.

Interest and Anger

During the past year, we have been exploring the three pillars of development: feelings, language, and cognition. Over the next several months, we will explore more deeply what may be our two most significant feelings: interest and anger. We will start with interest (curiosity).

Why Physical Punishment Does Not Work

Physical punishment is a major public health problem in this country. Approximately 60% of adults still approve of physical punishment, despite compelling evidence that it does not work, it makes things worse, and there are effective alternatives. If hitting a child is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.

Our Earliest Feelings: Exploring Questions of Temperament

What is the relationship between one's internal world and the environment? How do these earliest, innate responses relate to later emotional life?

Our Earliest Feelings: Enjoyment, Shame, Disgust, & Dissmell

We are continuing with our exploration of infant, child, and adolescent development and three major developmental topics -- feelings, language, and cognition. This month we examine the last four of our nine earliest feelings: enjoyment, shame, disgust, and dissmell.

Our Earliest Feelings: Distress and Anger

While the feelings of surprise, fear, and interest depend on the speed of the incoming stimuli, distress and anger appear to depend on the quantity of the stimulus.

Surprise, Fear, and Interest

How does it happen that the baby has so few specific responses—feelings, affects, whatever—to all the stimuli coming at her? How do all these stimuli get transformed into the very few signals—feelings—which allow the baby and parents to communicate?

Our Earliest Feelings

Tomkins defined these earliest feelings, or affects, as biological responses to stimuli. These responses are seen in the skin, vocal apparatus, musculature, autonomic nervous system, and particularly in the face.

The Embryology of Our Emotional Life

Why this focus on feelings? Two reasons in particular. First, feelings motivate us. Feelings lead to action. Feelings cause behaviors. Second, feelings are crucial because they allow for communication.

The History of the Study of Feelings: 20th Century

We continue exploring the dramatic advances in understanding human nature and personality formation — what we call The Revolution in Infant and Child Development, and its three pillars of Feelings, Intelligence, and Language.

An Exploration of Feelings in Infant and Child Development

How does one make sense of the history of the exploration of feelings -- the ancient as well as more recent philosophers, the development of psychiatry, the expression of emotions throughout literature and art? In many ways, the questions were similar to the ones we ask today: What are feelings? How are they triggered? How are feelings related to bodily sensations?

Nature's Gift

Thanks to recent research, we now understand feelings—the answers are right in front of us. We know what the basic inborn feelings are, how they develop over the human life span, and, most importantly, how feelings work.

Exploring Feelings

It is the story of how feelings motivate behavior, and how we still have not genuinely grasped that. It is about our struggle to understand the working of feelings in our close relationships and in general human interactions.

The Revolution in Infant and Child Development: Feelings

This is a story of children who are troubled, angry, overly-aggressive, or mute and inhibited — children whose lives and development are close to being seriously derailed.

The Revolution in Infant and Child Development

There is a revolution occurring in infant and child development. This is having a profound impact on our understanding of the motives and behavior of human beings. There are three areas which are fueling this revolution: feelings, intelligence, and language. We will discuss the remarkable potential created when one looks at these three elements together.

The Power of Translation

The Power of Translation: Before an infant can talk, translation comes into play as a parent tries to decipher the meanings—or feelings—behind an infant’s use of facial expressions and vocalizations. These feelings are expressed through facial expressions, bodily gestures, and vocalizations.


The toddler years provide spectacular opportunities for enhancing intellectual and emotional development. Language is a large part of this, opening up an entire new world of growth during the early years. And to hear a toddler begin to talk is an astonishing and poignant moment.


Language In our last several Newsletters, we have discussed the transition from infant to toddler. This change from infant to toddler occurs approximately from 1-3 years of age. This month we will start a three-part discussion of the third aspect of toddlerhood: language.


Parent and child self-awareness