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Richards, A.K. (1999). Phantoms in the Brain: V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee. New York: William Morrow, 320 pp., $27.00. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(3):960.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(3):960

Phantoms in the Brain: V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee. New York: William Morrow, 320 pp., $27.00

Review by:
Arlene Kramer Richards

While making his interesting case for unconscious mental functioning, Ramachandran is careful to assert that no one believes in Freud anymore—except perhaps for a few people in New York and London. Having made his obeisance to what he believes to be the accepted view in academic psychology departments, he finds that Anna and Sigmund Freud were right about defense mechanisms, including repression. He does not seem bothered by the contradiction between his assertion of repression and his rejection of the repressed. He also believes that the purpose of each human being is to maximize the likelihood of passing on genes to the next generation. In addition, he describes a great deal of aggression. So what's to believe in Freud for? This interesting rediscovery of Freudian principles by a neuroscientist includes a discussion of the phenomena of phantom limbs, the denial of existing paralyzed limbs in stroke victims, and pseudocyesis, as well as a consideration of the existence of religious beliefs and other mental wonders. This popular science book is a good read for the nonspecialist interested in modern neurology.

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