Underpinning Theories

Temper views Attachment theory and emotional regulation as the underpinning structures of work needed and a psychodynamic and experiential  method as the vehicle for understanding and bringing about changes in the behaviours. Plutchik’s elegantly coloured “emotion wheel” is at the bottom of this page.  The wheel we devised in 1996 is not elegantly coloured, but we believe it “fits” much better with human responses. Consequently it provides a background to the work we deliver.   It, too, can be found at the bottom of this page. The “power and control wheel”, also called  “Pence wheel”,  even when enhanced with “cognitive behavioural therapy”  CBT,   as used by many of the accredited projects, has been shown over the last 30 years to have very little to no  positive and effective outcomes.  

Research has very clearly established that in the vast majority of cases involving an intimate couple emotion drives behaviour, not a desire for “power and control” over a partner. In the vast majority of cases male (and female) behaviours with an intimate partner are “reactive” rather than “instrumental”. It follows that clients need to understand and learn to recognise and regulate their own emotions, which will be driving their behaviours and understand and recognise the emotions and intentions of others so that they can respond more appropriately to a partner’s emotionally driven behaviours, and of course to the emotions and behaviours of children of the family. Very simply put, as Prof Dan Siegel does,  people need to be able to name and hence tame their own emotions.  

These facts run counter to the Duluth model and Duluth-like models and the dominant ideological stance on which virtually all of the work with so-called perpetrators in the UK and America is based.  You can find a list and summary of the more important research in the back “pages of this website.”

Dr Dan Siegel has now produced a definition of emotion and a definition of the mind. When these are added to the very important aspects of intimate relationships, all linked together by emotion, a much clearer understanding of the work that needs to be undertaken emerges.

From our point of view we have been able to merge the original work we developed in 1994/5 with the developments of the last 30 years which have largely emerged over the last 20 years. In a nutshell what was “anger management” became “emotional regulation”.

For clients to be able to make changes in their behaviours they first have to understand just what drives those behaviours, and the emotional memories which helped to lay down their pre-dispositions to their personal types of behaviour. This can be summarised, linguistically, as developing their “auto-biographical memory”. For the individual the need is for “EXPERIENCE” which can be gathered from an  EXPERIENTIAL style of working.  

Much of the “counselling” work undertaken by people, which thousands of counsellors and psychotherapists have been trained to deliver, involves “cognitive behavioural therapy,” CBT.  Nearly all of such work involves “language”.  Language is just one even minor form of communication.  Sometimes the results help an individual to “talk the talk”. But much more importantly, as we would see it, is to be able to “walk the walk”. Really what CBT has meant is that the individuals were able to expand their knowledge about their behaviours but without necessarily being able to do anything about changing them! “Emotion” has been and is being slowly added to the CBT by able therapists. But, in order to change behaviours “new paths” need to be trodden through those behavioural corn fields, as Siegel puts it!   Those “new paths”  involve a range of new and varied ways of communicating, all of which need to be practised. Few of them are practised with words alone! 

Massive contributors to current knowledge have been: Dr Allan Schore, integrating much of Professor John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, Joseph LeDoux establishing the primacy of emotion over thought.

More recently the work of Dr Steven Poges, “Polyvagal theory” has begun to highlight how the damage caused to children by the early experiences of violence can inhibit an individual’s ability to emotionally regulate themself. He also points out the likelihood of the phylogenetically developed myelinated vagus nerve in human beings which, when properly stimulated will quickly engage an individual’s  social networks.

Many other neuro-scientists have also pitched in, Antonio Damassio and for those people that enjoy reading,   “The Master and his Emissary” by Ian McGilchrist, psychiatrist, is very much worth a read. Much more recently the Handbook of Emotions edited by Lewis and Haviland Jones has been more recently edited by Lisa Feldman-Barrett who has brought much of her recent research into focus. “

“Doctor Lisa Feldman Barrett is the most creative insightful and iconic classic scientists of our age. She has upended the science of emotion with decades of research.” She has produced a very interesting clip about emotions and court processes on Youtube.   The link is here.  

John Bowlby introduced his  ideas and research about “attachment theory”  to the world in 1958,59,60. The work has been confirmed and developed by literally 1000s of research papers. Those “patterns of attachment”  survive into adulthood. Problems in couples often develop because of the difficulties caused by one or both individual’s attachment style, or the mixture of both. 

Dr Allan Schore illustrates a great deal of the workings of attachment theory you can google: “Attachment and the regulation of the right brain,” for example.

Despite some criticisms Dr Stephen Porges illustrates amongst very much else with his “Polyvagal theory” (which you can also google or check out on youtube) that an individual’s “social engagement system” needs to be engaged with, to enable the individual  to learn quickly and effectively.  Porges illustrates very clearly that “confrontation”  raises an individual’s defences and hence blocks any learning. It is suggested that:  “Trauma pushes the activation of the nervous system beyond its ability to self-regulate. When a stressful experience pushes the system beyond its limits, it can become stuck in the “on” position. When a system is overstimulated like this, we can experience anxiety, panic, anger, hyperactivity, and restlessness. ” Of course in relationships where there is violence and or abuse these types of experience are likely to be found in both individuals.

Dr Daniel Siegel: To help give some direction to what needs to be undertaken, positively, I’m also going to produce a number of quotes from “The Developing Mind,” his second edition,   “How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are.”

“As Glaser and colleagues suggest, “childhood trauma may have long-lasting and enduring effects on adult psychological functioning, as exposed individuals continually react more strongly to small stressors occurring in the natural flow of everyday life. The finding that emotional stress reactivity is most pronounced for subjects who experienced trauma early in life confirms prior evidence suggesting that the effects of trauma are more detrimental when trauma occurs at a younger age. 127

“Emotion directly influences the functions of the entire brain and body, from physiological regulation to abstract reasoning.” 158

“The amygdala receives and sends signals directly from and to the visual system, reacting to visual stimuli without the involvement of consciousness.”

“The amygdala can rapidly bias the perceptual apparatus toward interpreting the stimuli as dangerous. All of this occurs within (milli) seconds and does not depend on conscious awareness. At least with regard to the fear response, the brain is wired to non-consciously create a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” (Other researchers demonstrate that fear can be aroused in a couple hundreths of a second.)

“If the amygdala is excessively sensitive and fires off a “Danger!” signal, it will automatically alter ongoing perceptions so that they appear threatening. This may be a basis for phobias and other anxiety disorders. 61”

“For example, if a child encounters a dog that growls and lunges at her, she is likely to have a response of fear.” (p. 159).

“The take-home lesson here is that in humans, awareness of bodily states may be the gateway to becoming conscious of our emotions.” 74  (p. 161).

“Instead, we can state that there is a lack of binding of emotion to consciousness. Consciousness is necessary for an intentional alteration in behavior patterns beyond “reflexive” responses.”

“Without the involvement of consciousness and the capacity to perceive others’ and one’s own emotions, there may be an inability to plan actively for the future, to alter engrained patterns of behavior, or to engage in emotionally meaningful connections with others.” (p. 162).

“In this way, attention is often considered the process that directs the flow of information processing. For perceptual processing, this means, for example, that a person will pay more attention to an object. For memory, arousal leads to enhanced encoding via increased neuronal plasticity and the creation of new synaptic connections and therefore increased likelihood of future retrieval. 77 As the activations within the brain change,”p. 163).

“For example, the motivational drive to seek proximity to a caregiver and attain face-to-face communication with eye/ gaze contact is hard-wired into the typical brain from birth. It is not learned.” (p. 163).

“However, if such eye contact results in the child’s being overwhelmed and feeling intruded upon by the parent, then such interactions may become associated with a negative value. The child learns that eye contact should be avoided.” (p. 164).

“How we come to understand others is directly related to our awareness of our own internal states. How we come to know “who” we are is shaped by the communication we’ve had with others. If that communication has been filled with confusion and unpredictable actions— or filled with hostile intention— then our internal sense of a coherent self will be compromised. In contrast, being around caregivers early in life who are attuned to our own internal worlds in a reliable way will provide us with the “mirror experiences” that enable us to have a coherent and flexible sense of our selves in the world.” (p. 166).

“Other processes involving the appraisal– arousal structures, such as the orbito-frontal cortex, the anterior cingulate, and the amygdala, include emotional memory (especially fear), 93 empathy (feeling what another feels and understanding the point of view of another), 94 and categorical emotions. 95 (p. 167) allow for flexible adaptations to shifting contexts and perspectives.” 98

“In other words, when there are changing or unexpected conditions, the middle prefrontal region is active in creating new, flexible behavioral and cognitive responses”  (p. 167).

“We can propose that such an integrating function may allow an individual, for example, to approach life decisions, relationships, and perhaps narrative responses with self-reflection and with a sense of perspective on past, present, and future considerations. The outcome of such well-developed and integrated functioning can be proposed to play a central role in the individual’s ongoing development, subjective experiences, and interpersonal relationships. Response flexibility enables the mind to (pp. 167-168). assess incoming stimuli or emotional states, and then to modify external behaviors as well as internal reactions.” (p. 168).

“EMOTION AND SOMATIC RESPONSE The signals from the body also directly shape our emotions. Our awareness of bodily state changes— such as tension in our muscles, shifts in our facial expressions, or signals from our hearts or intestines— lets us know how we feel. This bodily feedback occurs even without awareness.” (p. 169).

Professor Plutchik’s elegant and colourful model was first published in 1994. We discovered it in 2004.  We had previously devised our own, somewhat similar model with somewhat different words and a  different “positioning” of  main emotion, Trust.  Our model also indicates the “central core” as  being  ……   and the “intensity” of emotion being on the extreme ends, rather than apparently in the middle 

The Temper Heart of England model of 8 basic, primary, categorical emotions – notice the differences in the use of words, the orientations of the emotions and the “extremes” being on the outside rather than around the middle.

Taken from Strengths based batterer interventions 2009  Peter Lehmann PhD & LSW & Catherine A Simmons PhD & LSW

■ IPV interventions should take a helping, therapeutic position rather than a didactic, educational, or authoritarian stance.

■ The therapist should be empathic, as opposed to confrontational, and develop an alliance with clients.

■ The therapy should adopt an idiographic approach rather than a “one size fits all” treatment package and should embrace the complexity of IPV and the diversity among perpetrators.

■ The therapist should be respectful of the client—rather than pejorative, moralizing, or punitive.

■ The therapy should “meet the client where he is” and strive to increase his motivation to pursue behavior change.

■ The therapy should attend to and address the client’s emotions.

■ The therapist should help the client to modify and articulate positive and functional self-statements, which in turn will modify his emotions and behavior.

■ The therapist should play to the client’s strengths and foster self compassion, as opposed to focusing on the client’s weakness or past mistakes, impugning his character, and fostering shame.”

“The field of intimate partner violence (IPV) is at an impasse. We have created an industry of IPV intervention whereby most men arrested for domestic violence are routinely mandated to attend a battering intervention and prevention program. Despite declarations that arrest followed by court-ordered treatment offers “great hope and potential for breaking the destructive cycle of violence” (U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force on Family Violence, 1994, p. 48), there is little evidence that our current interventions are very effective in stopping the recurrence of family violence (Babcock, Green & Robie, 2004). Current interventions, when studied appropriately with rigorous experiments, appear to be relatively ineffective at stopping domestic violence. So what do we do now? Dismantle the system? Ignore the data and proceed with “treatment as usual”? Develop new interventions? If we are going to create new IPV interventions should we modify existing interventions? Or should we chuck it all and start from scratch? What should future IPV interventions look like?

This book addresses these questions. Until quite recently, the Duluth-type model and feminist philosophy have had a stranglehold on the field. Some states mandate that only Duluth-model battering intervention programs receive funding, regardless of the fact that they are largely ineffective. Entrenched political and philosophical dogmas have thwarted the exploration of alternative theories, dismissed empirical findings, and discouraged rigorous study of the causes of intimate partner violence. This book unabashedly presents possible solutions to move the field forward. It presents alternative models of IPV interventions that will help the IPV field get “unstuck.” While the strengths-based approaches detailed in this book consider the problem of IPV from different angles, all converge on several points:

Additions below added by David Eggins

“Emotions” says Prof Daniel Siegel “are verbs, not nouns,”  They are “doing words.”

So what are the behaviours linked with those “doing” words?

Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett  reminds us that there are many “behaviours” associated with the different categorical emotions and that what happens in our brains, for which we might say our minds, is that they get “interpreted” by the receiver of the communication, guessed at, would be her initial statement and that they would then be “refined” via sensory inputs. 

Voxels are the “pixels” of the brain.

Interoception   – anger, fear, happiness, disgust, sadness, curiosity, and, above all, ATTACHMENT.