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Turtz, J. (2018). The Wisdom of Lived Experience; Views from Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Metaphysics, by Maxine Anderson, Karnac Books Ltd, London, 2016, 146pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 78(1):104-107.

(2018). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 78(1):104-107

The Wisdom of Lived Experience; Views from Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Metaphysics, by Maxine Anderson, Karnac Books Ltd, London, 2016, 146pp.

Review by:
John Turtz, Ph.D.

The truth is in the depths.


Truth kindles light for truths.

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things.

The preface of Maxine Anderson's gem of a book, The Wisdom of Lived Experience: Views from Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Metaphysics, fittingly begins with Lucretius, the ancient Roman poet and author of the magnificent poem, On the Nature of Things. This poem was lost for 1000 years and then rediscovered by Poggio Bracciolini in 1417, a story beautifully told by Stephen Greenblatt in The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, which Anderson cites (p. xvi). This poem was an enormous influence upon the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Along with its focus on the world as made up of atoms, a theory stemming back to the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, On the Nature of Things emphasizes the wisdom of lived experience.

Maxine Anderson explores ideas from psychoanalysis, neuroscience, philosophy and metaphysics to better understand the nature of reality, especially the realm of lived or embodied experience, and in doing so ends up validating the Epicurean ideas expressed so beautifully by Lucretius. She first explores the birth of subjectivity through the lens of philosophy and psychoanalysis. More specifically, she views the birth of subjectivity as a dialectical process between differentiation and de-differentiation. She begins the first chapter with the following paradox: “Our adult selves want to grow, but we hate to be disturbed” (p. 3). This dialectical process involving both change and stability is seen as fundamental to the process of what Bion refers to as “becoming” (p. 5).

This dialectical process can be seen in the asymmetric properties of the left and right hemispheres of the human brain, and Anderson looks toward the psychiatrist Ian McGilchrist in examining these properties. Anderson concentrates on the ideas expressed by McGilchrist in his book, The Master and His Emissary, where he wrote about cerebral lateralization and the differences in nature between the two hemispheres. More specifically, the left hemisphere emphasizes language, abstract reasoning, control, focused attention, categorization and “those qualities that allow for the exploration and the conquering of nature and her secrets” (p. 6).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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