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PEP-Web Tip of the Day

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Trupp, M.S. (1997). Conscious And Unconscious Processes: Psychodynamic, Cognitive, And Neurophysiological Convergences. By Howard Shevrin, James A. Bond, Linda A.W. Brakel, Richard K. Hertel, and William J. Williams. New York; The Guilford Press, 1996, 302 pp., $45.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:981-984.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:981-984

Conscious And Unconscious Processes: Psychodynamic, Cognitive, And Neurophysiological Convergences. By Howard Shevrin, James A. Bond, Linda A.W. Brakel, Richard K. Hertel, and William J. Williams. New York; The Guilford Press, 1996, 302 pp., $45.00.

Review by:
Michael S. Trupp

In our current neuroscientific era, the era of PET, of echo-planar MRI, and of an increasingly fine-grained psychopharmacological revolution, many of the commonplaces of psychoanalysis seem to have disappeared from contemporary mind/brain discourse. Outside of psychoanalytic circles, such fundamentals of mental life as dynamic action outside of consciousness, transferential phenomena, conflict, and defense are generally neither noted nor explored. Here and there appear rough-grained exceptions, mainly within the voluminous “split-brain” literature and in select sectors of anesthesiology. Noteworthy as well, and often valuable, are research contributions from adjoining specialties by psychoanalytically informed nonanalysts. Here, however, psychoanalytic discourse often has a “tacked-on” quality, and there is little appreciation of its emergent, densely complex core.

Against such a background, analysts who attempt—via documented experimental research—to transcend theoretical barriers (say, between psychodynamics and cognitive psychology) have set themselves an arduous and ambitious task. They must demonstrate not only psychoanalytic sophistication and scientific discipline, but substantive familiarity with a myriad of significant issues, “rules,” modalities, and standards germane to other fields. Just such an effort is made in Conscious and Unconscious Processes, by Howard Shevrin and four analytically trained coauthors, one of whom is a bioengineer. Their work not only reviews twenty-five years of specialized psychological research, but also attempts to explore experimentally the relations of psychodynamic conflict and symptoms, conscious and unconscious “awareness,” and the selected neurophysiological correlates of each.

Their starting point is an early historical interface between an original, uniquely psychoanalytic discovery and a discrete laboratory experiment. In the Interpretation of Dreams Freud had noted that seemingly bland day residues were often “exploited” by the dreamwork to provide elements—often central elements—of consciously recalled dream content.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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