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Meissner, W.W. (2009). Mind-Brain and Body in the Self: Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(2):369-402.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(2):369-402

Mind-Brain and Body in the Self: Psychoanalytic Perspectives

W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D.

In attempting to think about the nature of the self in psychoanalysis, exploration of the issues involved leads inevitably to consideration of the mind-body relation and its implications for understanding the self. In previous reflections, I have discussed the varieties of mind-body relation proposed by various theorists (Meissner, 2003b) as well as the vagaries of thinking about the mind-body relation found in Freud (Meissner, 2003c) and among subsequent analysts who have reflected on the matter (Meissner, 2003d). Subsequent exploration of neuroscientific findings relevant to the mind-brain problem (Meissner, 2006a, 2006b), of conclusions from the study of brain dysfunction in forms of psychopathology and dreaming (Meissner, 2006c) and of aspects of psychosomatic functioning (Meissner, 2006d) led to the conclusion that traditional dualistic and monistic resolutions of the mind-body problem were insufficient.

I (Meissner, 2006c) stated my tentative conclusion in the following terms:

I have argued here for a more complex resolution, one that recognizes the activity of the mind—conscious and unconscious, voluntary and involuntary, explicit and implicit—as produced by brain processes, but as retaining their separate and distinctive character as studied by mental and psychological disciplines. In this sense, the separate methodologies—one neuroscientific and objective studying physical brain mechanisms and processes by external observational and technologically manipulative techniques, the other introspective and subjective studying mental processes from the inside, seeking an understanding of the meanings and motivations involved in mental activities—can serve as separate and distinct and complementary approaches to the study of the

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