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Turtz, J. (2016). Between Mind and Brain: Models of the Mind and Models in the Mind, by Ronald Britton, Karnac Books, London, 2015, 141pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 76(4):427-429.
(2016). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 76(4):427-429
Between Mind and Brain: Models of the Mind and Models in the Mind, by Ronald Britton, Karnac Books, London, 2015, 141pp.
Review by: John Turtz, Ph.D.
Ronald Britton's book, Between Mind and Brain: Models of the Mind and Models in the Mind, is not an easy read. It is intellectually challenging, but very rich in substance and well worth the struggle. To really appreciate the connections Britton is making amongst ideas that emerge from fields as far ranging as psychoanalysis, philosophy, literature, mythology, neuroscience and quantum physics requires at least two readings of this book.
Britton states his central theme in his Introduction: “The theme of this book is that we think in models” (p. xv). The philosopher of science, R. B. Braitwaite, developed the concept of scientific deductive systems. These are “propositions in mathematical terms” (p. xv), and Braitwaite believed that we turn these into models. Britton, on the other hand, reverses this thinking, stating “that we think in models first and that some people make an abstraction of this on a logical, deductive basis” (p. xv). Influenced by Lakoff and Johnson, Britton sees these models as having an underlying preverbal metaphorical structure.
These underlying metaphorical structures, or unconscious models, lead human beings to assume that their belief systems are based on fact; this, of course, is an illusion, as these belief systems are in actuality built upon assumptions that are then taken as fact. Where Britton is at his best is when he delves into ideas that go to a depth well beyond most writers. For example, with regard to models and belief systems, he turns to Wilfred Trotter, the British surgeon from the late 19th and early 20th centuries who also wrote about social psychology.
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