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Deutsch, J.R. Deutsch, J. (2008). Toronto Group, International Neuropsychoanalytic Society. Neuropsychoanalysis, 10(1):108-109.

(2008). Neuropsychoanalysis, 10(1):108-109

Toronto Group, International Neuropsychoanalytic Society

Judith R. Deutsch and James Deutsch

Summary of Activities, Fall 2007

The Toronto Group focused on clinical applications of theory, discussing cases involving severe violence, brain damage, and a variety of neurodevelopmental syndromes in children.

The reach extended beyond the Group, to other forums and venues, bringing the integrative approach to larger and more diverse audiences, such as the annual day in applied psychoanalysis.

Dr. James Deutsch discussed neuroscience and psychoanalytic approaches to understanding aggression. We began with a representative review article from the neuroscience perspective (Nelson & Trainor, 2007), which outlined the anatomy and physiology of neural circuits presumed to underlie various forms of aggression, and went on to point out how animal studies may neglect motivation, context, and quality as opposed to quantity of aggression, all of which are key aspects of the more complex functioning of humans in social interactions. The authors called for the study of the specific nature of social cues and perceived challenges.

The neglect on the neuroscience side was addressed nicely with the work of James Gilligan. Based on decades of psycho-analytically informed work (summarized in Gilligan, 1996) with some of the most notorious murderers, he was able to conclude that shame—and specifically the reaction to the “slightest slight?—could lead to the most horrific acts. The individuals consistently revealed histories of child abuse and severe humiliations, but only after considerable periods of observation and assessment.

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