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Jelliffe, S.E. (1940). The Influence of Psychoanalysis on Neurology. Psychoanal Q., 9:214-215.

(1940). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 9:214-215

The Influence of Psychoanalysis on Neurology

Smith Ely Jelliffe

The influence of psychoanalysis on neurology is not very definitely defined. The meaning of psychoanalysis is fairly precise: it is a conception of altering the functioning of the mental operations which, as Nunberg has most clearly stated, aims to increase the mobility of the libido, bring about an enlarged ego synthesis and modify the tyranny of the superego. Only one of these terms, the ego, has any specific connotations in the usually accepted meaning of the term neurology.

Psychoanalysis has definite dynamic psychobiological significance, whereas the generalizations of neurology in their older frame of reference stand for problems of anatomical structure, neurophysiological function and more narrowly of sensorimotor behavior, chiefly envisaged as a complex of reflex activities.

These are distinctly different frames of reference which rarely touch each other, especially in their original conceptualization. Notwithstanding this aloofness which of old constituted an unbridgable gap, neurology has had to give way to the newcomer if any adaptive correlations could function. Psychoanalysis grew up within the psychiatric discipline; neurology was and is still a child of the anatomical emergence of neuron structure and sensorimotor function, a sort of antechamber to the how of behavior, rather than an ingress into the why of life's revelations.

It is not without great significance that the original studies of Freud dealt with a type of neurological formulation, yet at the same time were accompanied by questions of more than purely morphological significance.

Should we turn to Freud's initiation into the field we find him describing the structure of a lowly type of organism which of itself presented an emergent evolutionary aspect.

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