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Mizen, S. (2009). Yovell, Yoram [Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience. University of Haifa Israel]. ‘Is there a drive to love?’ Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 2008, 10, 2.. J. Anal. Psychol., 54(4):554-557.

(2009). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 54(4):554-557

Yovell, Yoram [Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience. University of Haifa Israel]. ‘Is there a drive to love?’ Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 2008, 10, 2.

Review by:
Susan Mizen

For those unfamiliar with the journal Neuro-psychoanalysis, it is an interdisciplinary journal for psychoanalysis and the neurosciences. The journal and the International Neuro-psychoanalysis Society were established with a view to continuing Freud's project for a Scientific Psychology. The society provides a forum for dialogue between psychoanalysts, cognitive and affective neuroscientists and related disciplines. Mark and Karen Kaplan-Solms (Kaplan Solms & Solms 2000) initially used ‘dynamic localization’ first developed by Luria to investigate the neural networks underlying speech and language, to undertake a psychoanalytic investigation of patients who had suffered strokes and brain lesions. In doing so they both identified the psychological functions and defences, which were lost and the more primitive underlying functions which were revealed and provided a method by which psychoanalysis could be rejoined with neuroscience in a way which was compatible with Freud's basic assumptions and which elucidated analytic theory and informed neuroscientific investigation. The hypothesis being tested is the Freudian psychoanalytic model. It is in this spirit that Yoram Yovell's article and the subsequent commentaries by psychoanalysts and neuroscientists are written.

Yovell sets himself the unenviable task of defining romantic love and its neurobiological correlates, a subject as likely as any to polarize his readership. This was certainly in evidence in the commentaries which in some instances failed to see the need to engage with the question at all.

Yovell, by reviewing the analytic and recently burgeoning neuroscientific and anthropological literature poses two questions: how do romantic love, sexuality, and attachment relate to one another? Is there a unique drive or instinct for romantic love, or is it the product of other drives and instincts, none of which is unique to it?

After an initial review of Freud's drive theory in which drive is defined as the means by which bodily states come to be represented in the mind, Yovell turn his attention to the brain regions which may be associated with Freud's conception of libido. After reviewing the neural candidates it would appear that the SEEKING system, defined and described by Panksepp (Panksepp 1998) bears a neural, functional resemblance to the psychological concept of libido.

[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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