The podcast reviewed here is one of the UCLA Psychiatry Grand Rounds podcast series titled ‘Bringing Psychology’s ‘Positive Psychology’ into Psychiatry’ and freely available here. This is a video of a presentation by Professor Vaillante who has undertaken considerable research into the recovery process from several illnesses including schizophrenia. In this talk, Professor Vaillante examines ‘positive emotions’ and at the beginning of the talk he mentions provocatively the active ingredients of a treatment of ‘faith, hope and love’ in contrast with the psychodynamic exploration of feelings such as anger, guilt and shame. The talk covers a broad range of topics which fit under the theme of ‘positive emotions’. I was interested to hear Vaillante talk about Autism as a disorder of attachment. He takes a look at the Limbic System and raises the possibility that this may have distinguished the dinosaurs from the mammals with the former group facing a mass extinction. Could emotions have played a role? (However there are a number of alternative hypotheses to explain this extinction which have taken centre stage). He also takes a look at the Insular Cortex (see here for the beginnings of a model on the Insular Cortex) including the Spindle cells and Mirror Neurons. Indeed he notes the much discussed hypothesised relationship to empathy. Vaillante brings together a number of findings including those from recent studies, encouraging the audience to examine possible connections and reappraise the role of ‘positive emotions’.
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