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Olds, D. (2013). The Target Article. Neuropsychoanalysis, 15(1):3.

(2013). Neuropsychoanalysis, 15(1):3

Editors' Introduction

The Target Article

David Olds

Our Target Article in this issue, “The Conscious Id,” is a major paper by Mark Solms. As the title suggests, he sets out to upend the usual way that analysts and neuroscientists have conceived of the brain and the sources of consciousness. Most brain scientists hold what Solms calls a “corticocentric” view, in which the organ of consciousness is the cortex; the automatic, instinctual processes thought to be fundamentally unconscious are mediated by subcortical structures. In the classical psychoanalytic view, the id is the source of the instincts, or drives, which are themselves unconscious until they give rise to feelings, emotions, and behaviors. The cortex (particularly the prefrontal cortex)—an evolutionarily late introduction that exerts top-down influence and serves as the basis of executive functions—is usually correlated with the ego. Solms digs deep into his extensive scholarship in Freud's theorizing, bringing out certain inconsistencies and combining these with findings of modern neuroscience that “turn Freud's system on its head.” His hypothesis is that it is the id, not the ego, that is the source of consciousness. The id—largely localized in the upper-brainstem and limbic nuclei, which represent the visceral body, generate instinctual and emotional behavior, and make up the brain's activating system—provides the energy and push that activate drives, instincts, and affects. As such, these circuits underlie the experience of the phenomenal self, the fount of conscious subjectivity.

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