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Joannidis, C. (2017). Conversing Does Not Constitute Need: The Case of Psychoanalysis and Its Relationship to Neuroscience. Free Associations, 18(1):118-128.

(2017). Free Associations, 18(1):118-128

Conversing Does Not Constitute Need: The Case of Psychoanalysis and Its Relationship to Neuroscience1

Chris Joannidis

‘That knowledge is conceived in the hot womb of violence …’ ‘Oxford’

W.H. Auden (2004)

The question of whether psychoanalysis and the neurosciences need each other is often posed in the scientific literature, but never adequately resolved. Publications by a variety of authors, amongst them Mark Solms & Oliver Turnbull (2002), Eric Kandel (1999), Regina Pally (2000) and others, as well as ongoing debates in learned journals including Neuropsychoanalysis attest to this - even the theme of the 10th International Neuropsychoanalysis Congress in Paris was a variation on this very topic. As most contributions to the ongoing debate tend to be in favor of need, the position I would like to advance in this paper, is the defense of the autonomy of psychoanalysis i.e. to present psychoanalysis as an independent, stand-alone discipline, inter pares with every other discipline including neuroscience, and not in need of any one of them. The proposition that psychoanalysis is the science of subjectivity, has been widely promoted and acknowledged. As such, the specific aporia to which psychoanalysis seeks to find answers, can best be expressed as: what sort of an experience is it, to be this particular “I” that I am in this world, and in relation to other “I's” around me, most particularly, I-in-pain and I-in-desire ? This fact puts the issues of investigating the workings of the mind, the economy of the psychic apparatus or even the structure and nature of the entity we call the Unconscious, to a rather subsidiary, second-order position.

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