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Rees, E. (2009). Desire, Self, Mind, and the Psychotherapies: Unifying Psychological Science and Psychoanalysis by R. Coleman Curtis Aronson, New York, NY, 2009; 263 pp; $60. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(6):1476-1479.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(6):1476-1479

Desire, Self, Mind, and the Psychotherapies: Unifying Psychological Science and Psychoanalysis by R. Coleman Curtis Aronson, New York, NY, 2009; 263 pp; $60

Review by:
Ellen Rees

R. Coleman Curtis proposes a model of the mind and of therapeutic change that is intended to help provide a unifying foundation for psychoanalysis and psychological science. These different disciplines have remained divided by differences in methodology, perspective and focus of interest, as well as by the force of tradition and intellectual heritage. Curtis thinks that the relatively recent appreciation of the role of emotion in scientific psychology and in neuroscience, as well as the demonstration of the existence of unconscious goals, sets the stage for the possibility of convergences between psychoanalysis and these disciplines.

From the perspective of psychoanalysis, a major obstacle to convergence with scientific psychology has been the latter's focus on conscious processes and behavior. A formidable problem with the cognitive and neurosciences has been the inability to understand, and thus to articulate and study, the relationship between the psychoanalytic concept of the dynamic unconscious and the concept of the non-conscious or cognitive unconscious in the cognitive and neurosciences. These problems remain daunting, as do the epistemological problems that are inherent in comparing concepts and research findings across disciplinary lines.

Desire, Self, Mind, and the Psychotherapies: Unifying Psychological Science and Psychoanalysis offers a scholarly attempt to address theoretical and conceptual problems that currently impede thinking across disciplinary lines. The mind is conceptualized differently in psychoanalysis, scientific psychology, and cognitive and neuroscience. The issues that must be tackled if integration is to be attempted concern differences in conceptualizing the nature of unconscious processes, and different views about the relative roles of conscious and unconscious processes, the role or even existence of processes of defense, and the nature of what is kept out of awareness. Curtis addresses each of these and her search for commonalities across disciplines and across conceptualizations results in a model of mind that might serve as a foundation for dialogue and for collaborative research.

[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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