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Lable, I. (2000). Conscious and Unconscious Processes: Psychodynamic, Cognitive, and Neurophysiological Convergences: Howard Shevrin, James A. Bond, Lisa A. W. Brakel, Richard K. Hertel, and William J. Williams. New York: The Guilford Press, 1996, 302 pp., $45.00.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 2(1):99-102.

(2000). Neuropsychoanalysis, 2(1):99-102

Conscious and Unconscious Processes: Psychodynamic, Cognitive, and Neurophysiological Convergences: Howard Shevrin, James A. Bond, Lisa A. W. Brakel, Richard K. Hertel, and William J. Williams. New York: The Guilford Press, 1996, 302 pp., $45.00.

Review by:
Ira Lable, M.D.

This book is about an experiment. The authors examine three constituents—psychodynamic, cognitive, and neurophysiological—that disclose a pattern of convergent findings. These findings, the authors believe, provide independent evidence for the existence of a dynamic unconscious and for the existence of unconscious conflict.

Clinically symptomatic research subjects are presented neutral and conflict words (determined by clinical interview) while the electrical activity of their brain is monitored. The pattern of these brain responses is considered evidence of a dynamic unconscious. The authors designed this experiment with rigorous theoretical and methodological reasoning. They posit, “If we were constrained to choose a single, most important contribution our research makes, we would underscore the innovative value of our method to understanding the role of the unconscious in how the mind works” (p. 261). This has been accomplished unequivocally. I agree with the need for multidisciplinary research in psychoanalysis, especially the rich study of the brain, which we have all but abandoned. Dr. Shevrin and colleagues demonstrate that we do not have to give up the clinical experience of psychoanalytic phenonema to enter the biological world. I am grateful for his scholarly and rigorous efforts.

This book is not for the faint of heart, for the authors write for a multidisciplinary audience and include highly technical data. As an analyst, I found the technical versions difficult to integrate into an assessment and understanding of the research design and implementation, though I am not sure there is a better way to present multidisciplinary research.

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