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Basch, M.F. (1978). Freud's 'Project' Re-Assessed. Preface to Contemporary Cognitive Theory and Neuropsychology: By Karl H. Pribram and Merton M. Gill. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1976. 192 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 47:631-633.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 47:631-633

Freud's 'Project' Re-Assessed. Preface to Contemporary Cognitive Theory and Neuropsychology: By Karl H. Pribram and Merton M. Gill. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1976. 192 pp.

Review by:
Michael Franz Basch

This book should be looked upon as consisting of three separate essays written by two eminent experts from different fields. We are informed in the conclusion that somewhere between the inception and publication of this volume, the authors agreed to disagree about the validity of their enterprise. The theme that holds the book together is an examination of the general psychology that Freud formulated in his Project for a Scientific Psychology, but the manner in which this is carried out is uneven. The first three chapters are not so much a "re-assessment" as a re-interpretation of the Project, in which Pribram seeks to show that Freud's concepts regarding the operations of the brain in discharge and delay, memory, motive, and consciousness, when cast in the mold of information and control theory, are in keeping with some of the latest discoveries in neurophysiology.

The second "essay" consists of Chapters Four and Five, in which Freud's theories concerning the function of thought, dreams, sleep, and the primary and secondary process are carefully, and here non-tendentiously, reviewed but again not, in my opinion, re-assessed.

Some reassessment of the Project does eventually take place in an excellent, but all too brief, epilogue. In this third section, it is convincingly demonstrated that the concepts of the Project were resurrected in Freud's subsequent writings in essentially unchanged, neurological form, in which they continued to serve as an explanation of mental processes, i.e., as a metapsychology.

The value of the book for the psychoanalyst lies in the organization it brings to the various topics dealt with throughout the Project in an often scattered and disconnected manner.

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