This volume explores the implications of humans as evolved social animals. Gilbert suggests that evolution has given rise to a varied set of social competencies which form the basis of our personal knowledge and understanding. These competencies are classified as: a) Care eliciting b) Care giving c) Co?operating and d) Competing. Each of these are seen as core schemata, or archetypal potentials around which knowledge is built, and from which, our propensity for suffering flow. For example our predisposition to think of ourselves as superior or inferior to others comes from innate competencies which evolve from dominance and social ranking. Gilbert shows how primitive competencies become modified by experience and what happens when this modification is unsatisfactory, for example leading to preoccupations with fantasy and behaviour which is dominance and power focused.
Throughout the text Gilbert shows how two psychological systems (derived from ethological and experimental work), labelled the defense and safety system dominate the unfolding and integration of human mental life. In the last chapter these varied themes are brought together to indicate how the social construction of self arises from the organization of knowledge encoded within the four competencies. Gilbert highlights how cultural factors may modify and activate many of our more primitive competencies leading not only to pathology proneness but also to behaviours that are collectively survival threatening.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments. Introduction and Overview. A Legacy from the Past: The Role of Human Nature. The Mapping of Human Nature. The Psychobiology of some Basic Mechanisms. The Psychobiology of Peripheral Systems. Care Eliciting and Attachment Strategies. Care Eliciting and Theories of Psychopathology. Care Giving and Nurturance. Disorders of Care Giving. Co?Operation. Co?Operation: Some Blocks and Pathologies. Competition: Status, Power and Dominance. Some Psychopathologies of Power and Dominance. Beyond the Power of Reason. Personal Reflections. Appendices.
'This book is outstanding for the wide ranging and deeply penetrating psychological research and theory...' - Dr John Price, Open University
'By any standards this is a major piece of work... as a clinical psychologist... I am impressed and excited by this book, and have rarely read a book that has left such an impression on me.' - Dr Peter Trower, University of Leicester
'Dr Gilbert orients us to things both that we know and that we need yet to learn, improves our rationale for a variety of our procedures, and directs and gives purpose not only to our direct clinical work but to our reading and our collection of new information. Reading this book will acquaint one with an exciting "meaning-making" experience.' - Professor Russell Gardner Jr, University of Texas
'Any book which attempts to bring together the ideas of Jung, ethology, sociobiology, psychobiology, and cognitive approaches, while still retaining considerable respect for psychoanalysis (and its recent offshoots), learning theory, and existentialism is bound to leave many readers gasping for breath ... Gilbert's approach is highly compatible with the conception of evolution as a process whereby specific mechanisms evolve in order to solve specific problems ... Gilbert has written a wide-ranging and thoughtful book ... ... professionals from a variety of orientations will find it a provocative and informative book.' - Contemporary Psychology, 1990, Vol. 35, No. 11 reviewed by Kevin MacDonald.