Interpersonal Neurobiology

Interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) is a multidisciplinary approach to exploring how the mind, brain and body operate as a unified system in relational contexts. Interpersonal neurobiology emphasizes how both the brain and mind are shaped by relational experiences, especially by emotionally meaningful ones.

IPNB integrates research from areas throughout the sciences into an innovative clinical framework.  People are viewed as inherently social, enjoying fluid boundaries between their internal experience, their relations with others and their relations to the world. IPNB is developmental, evolutionary and non-reductionist:

  • Developmental in that it views early attachment experiences as key to shaping later health and pathology.
  • Evolutionary in that it recognizes the continuity between the emotional, relational and embodied self of humans, and similar limbic brain structures in other social mammals.
  • Non-reductionist in that it approaches clinical work as a subjective experience that cannot be reduced to chemical and electrical events in the brain.

IPNB gives clinicians a language for describing healthy versus compromised development, and can describe the effects of early trauma and ongoing stress on the central and autonomic nervous systems without needing pathologizing labels. The preeminent scholars in the field include Allan Schore, Daniel Siegel, Marion Solomon and Terry Marks-Tarlow.