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Whitehead, C.C. (2005). The Theory of Knowledge and the Third Psychoanalytic Revolution. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 33(2):287-298.

(2005). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 33(2):287-298

The Theory of Knowledge and the Third Psychoanalytic Revolution

Clay C. Whitehead

Much of Freud's theoretical work rests on his metapsychological assumption that split the mind from the brain. In recent decades, this assumption has increasingly constrained the progress of psychodynamic science. During those same decades rapid progress in the traditional sciences, particularly neuroscience, evolution, and brain imaging, has set the stage for major advances in our understanding of the mind, and the brain. Leaders in both traditional and psychodynamic science have identified the reintegration of the mind-brain split, and its related problems of consciousness and knowledge, as a focus of 21st century discovery.

Following Freud's revolutionary discovery of the unconscious and psychoanalysis, the period after World War II saw a second, post-Freudian psychoanalytic revolution. Psychopharmacology and the therapeutic use of empathy became widespread. Much of classical theory became increasingly obsolescent.

We are thus entering the early stages of a third psychoanalytic revolution seeking a reintegration of mind and body that was not possible in Freud's time. The implications for theory, vocabulary, and technique present exciting and daunting challenges. Bowlby, who early rejected metapsychology, was a brilliant leader in these efforts. More recently, neuroanatomy and MRI studies of separation and empathy, reviewed here, have supported many of the most important clinical hypotheses of modern psychoanalysis. This progress illuminates a royal road to reuniting traditional and psychoanalytic science through solution of the problem of knowledge.

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