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Olds, D. Cooper, A.M. (1997). Dialogue With Other Sciences: Opportunities For Mutual Gain. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:219-225.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:219-225

Dialogue With Other Sciences: Opportunities For Mutual Gain

David Olds and Arnold M. Cooper

Psychoanalysis, from its very beginnings, has greatly valued what we could learn from and what we could contribute to other areas of knowledge and discovery. Creative ideas often come from such cross-fertilisation, and it is inherent in the nature of science to be refreshed by discoveries from other disciplines. In the past our mutual interactions with anthropology, literature, linguistics, biography, sociology and history, as some examples, have enriched both disciplines. Currently, advances in neuroscience and cognitive sciences have aroused new interest in the exciting possibility of developing the study of mind-brain relationships and interactions. Freud himself was an early pioneer in biological interdisciplinary study, and we are reminded that he gave up this line of inquiry in part, at least, because neuroscience had not reached the point where such a project could be fruitful.

Now, however, an enormous amount of new information is becoming available through techniques of molecular biology, brain imaging, genetics, computer modelling and other studies and this may be the time to begin thinking anew of the linkages of psychology and the brain. More particularly, we may begin to ask what these new studies can contribute to psychoanalysis, as well as how the psychoanalytic understanding of mental functions may help to guide empirical studies of cognition and neural structures. Kandell (1983), some years ago, reporting on the molecular and cell biology of learning, pointed up the obvious—all mental life proceeds by alterations of brain activity, and learning represents a permanent change in the brain.

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