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Tresan, D.I. (1996). Jungian metapsychology and neurobiological theory. J. Anal. Psychol., 41(3):399-436.

(1996). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 41(3):399-436

Jungian metapsychology and neurobiological theory

David I. Tresan, M.D.

This paper deals with brain research and depth psychology. Because brain research is becoming significantly more sophisticated and increasingly able to assay the neurobiology of subjective (i.e. mental) events in vivo, it is suggested that any school of depth psychology will probably not survive as a mainstream treatment modality if its theory and practice is found to be in frank variance with the findings of the modern neurosciences. Jung's psychology is compared to Freud's and shown to be reasonably consonant with such findings. Historical highlights of Jung's non-reductive way of conceptualizing and working are presented and put in the context of more recent scientifically defensible concepts (emergence, supervenience, complexity theory) from the fields of both philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. These concepts postulate a hierarchical model of reality which permits an exploration of the mind/brain relationship without resorting to reductionism or dualism. A sense of the present struggle is conveyed between the proponents of these and more traditional scientific concepts. Finally, the nature of mind/brain confluence is elucidated by examples from the areas of learning, memory, and the capacity to symbolize in order to illustrate how clinical practices and observations familiar to experienced depth therapists and also in agreement with Jungian theory are compatible with neuroscientific findings. A research suggestion is offered.

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