Sentics,"" from the Latin root sentire (feeling, sentiment, sensation), is the term Clynes has coined for a science devoted...


SENTICS: The Touch of Emotions

Sentics,"" from the Latin root sentire (feeling, sentiment, sensation), is the term Clynes has coined for a science devoted to the study of emotional qualities and their communication. Clynes believes that there are fundamental indivisible ""sentic states"", these are in some way genetically programmed so that their form and expression are universally recognizable. To get at that essential form Clynes, whose background is in engineering, computer technology, neuroscience, and music, began to measure the force and direction of fingertip pressures: his adult subjects were told to generate specific sentic states on command, projecting their feelings through a finger resting on pressure-recording devices. His results show a surprising identity of forms among American men and women, Mexicans, Japanese and Balinese. With practice, moreover, many of his subjects found that they were able to experience a generalized emotion of anger, for example, or love, joy, reverence. This led Clynes to devise a tape of sentic cycles with instructions for the listener to generate fingertip feelings, in certain orders, with random repetitions within a specific emotion. Follow-up studies lend further weight to Clynes' belief that he has found a key to a genetic program that may underlie human abilities to sympathize, empathize, develop ethical values, relate to each other in love, and so on. The ghost of Plato seems to lurk in the background as Clynes enlarges on the idea of universal ideal sentic states, some yet to have found expression in human life. (As an example of new means of expression he explains a method of laughing with a fingertip that sounds positively gleeful.) Certainly there is much to question here and one wants independent confirmation of results. As a prelude to a construct combining neurophysiological form with mental content, however, sentics is well worth studying.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1976


Page Count: -

Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1976