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Laufer, E. (2012). Preface. Psychoanal. Rev., 99(4):471-474.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Review, 99(4):471-474


Edith Laufer, Ph.D.

This special issue of The Psychoanalytic Review recognizes the life's work of Dr. Eric Kandel, University Professor at Columbia University. Dr. Kandel's pathbreaking research on the cellular and molecular processes of memory earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 2000. In the two years before the award of this prize, Kandel returned to his fascination with psychoanalysis, recognizing its value, promise, and important place in his life.

In a seminal paper republished in this issue, Kandel (1999) concludes that psychoanalysis is both coherent and intellectually satisfying. It is a field, though, that he cautions must respond to the challenge of science. “If psychoanalysis is to regain its intellectual power and influence,” Kandel writes, “it will need more than the stimulus that comes from responding to its hostile critics. It will need to be engaged constructively by those who care for it and who care for a sophisticated and realistic theory of human motivation” (p. 505). Kandel offers an ambitious solution: Develop a closer relationship with biology, with a focus on advances in cognitive neuroscience.

As Kandel argued for us to embrace advances in the neurosciences and rethink the meaning of objectivity and science in relation to psychoanalysis more generally, Dr. Mark Solms (University of Capetown) joined the NPAP, inspiring members to consider the relevance of the nascent field of neuropsychoanalysis (Kaplan-Solms & Solms, 2000; Solms & Turnbull, 2002). Solms developed the intellectual architecture of neuropsychoanalysis and, among a host of related accomplishments, inspired the creation of The Neuropsychoanalytic Clinical Study Center of the NPAP. Most important, Solms challenged NPAP members to work with patients who have focal brain lesions, as his foreword details.

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