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Kinsbourne, M. (2001). Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Neuropsychology: Complementary Approaches to Mental Structure: Commentary by Marcel Kinsbourne. Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(1):24-27.

(2001). Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(1):24-27

Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Neuropsychology: Complementary Approaches to Mental Structure: Commentary by Marcel Kinsbourne Related Papers

Marcel Kinsbourne

“The founder of psychoanalysis came close to discovering by himself most of the modern tenets of cognitive neuroscience.” This sweeping claim typifies Dr. Carlo Semenza's well-intentioned attempt to discern affinity and forge alliance between theory in cognitive neuropsychology and psychoanalysis. The shotgun marriage never does come to pass. Semenza's inability to make the argument stick “damns it with faint praise,” and only succeeds in highlighting the shared shortcomings of the two theoretical approaches.

Semenza offers five “basic notions about cognitivism” (after Gardner, 1985, pp. 6-7):

Mental Representation as a Separate Level of Analysis

This notion is far from original to the cognitive neuropsychology movement of the last two decades, though the more recent theoretical claims about specific representations have been increasingly finely grained (Caramazza, 1992). There are now numerous local models that specify component operations intermediate in processing series. Psychoanalysis makes no such finely differentiated claims. Instead, it uses a limited number of general rules, a set of typical or illustrative scenarios, and interprets the endless smaller-scale individual variations. It does postulate specific, albeit unconscious, memories. A shared interest in memory (for entirely different purposes) is scant evidence of kinship between cognitive neuropsychology and psychoanalysis, and the pivotal concept of memory failure as due to repression has not kindled much interest among cognitive scientists.

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