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A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL MODEL OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND THERAPEUTIC CHANGE

EFRAIN SEGARRA, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

This work introduces a comprehensive theory of behavior which integrates neurological factors with phenomenological concepts. The resulting neuropsychological model proposes that the concept of person actually defines the integrated functioning of the organism. Such a functioning is postulated to be under the direction of cognitive activity which is conceptualized as a system of stochastic neuronal networks. A fundamental element of the proposed theory is the notion of a phylogenetic negative affective state of limbic origins being the motivational root of behavior. The limbic activity in question is conceived as a subliminal sensation of danger to which the person is constantly reacting cognitively, behaviorally, and physiologically. Such an unwitting anticipation of harm, labelled as core affect, is postulated to be synonymous with emotional pain and universal. The inadvertent adaptive or maladaptive ways in which a person interacts with the environment are considered to occur as a direct reaction to the prevalent intensity of core effect. Such reactive behavioral maneuvers are understood in terms of a continuum which defines ordinary adaptive behavior at one end and emotional disturbances at the other extreme. Anxiety in the model is construed as an ordinary reaction of the organism to core affect. The manifestations of anxiety are conceived in terms of a gradient according to their severity and are classified into cognitive and physical types. A central purpose behind the development of the theory has been the determination of the nature of the psychotherapeutic change and the process of psychotherapy. Both of the latter concepts are articulated in terms of the normalization of an exaggerated core affect as a function of the interpersonal process in psychotherapy. The proposed model of behavior is incompatible with the traditional assumptions about psychopathology and unconscious processes. The material is presented in terms of progressive levels of integration from reduced neural constructs to behavioral phenomenology, including developmental perspectives. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

SEGARRA, EFRAIN, "A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL MODEL OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND THERAPEUTIC CHANGE" (1983). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8310331.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI8310331

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