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Gorman, J.M. Roose, S.P. (2011). The Neurobiology of Fear Memory Reconsolidation and Psychoanalytic Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 59(6):1201-1219.

(2011). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 59(6):1201-1219

Research Section

The Neurobiology of Fear Memory Reconsolidation and Psychoanalytic Theory

Jack M. Gorman and Steven P. Roose

Advances in both experimental neuroscience and psychoanalytic theory and technique have made it possible to consider mechanisms by which psychodynamic psychotherapies might have an impact at the cellular and molecular level. Here potential analogies are drawn between (1) the mechanisms and results of blocking the reconsolidation of conditioned fear memories in the laboratory and (2) several key aspects of psychoanalytic process. A review of the biology of conditioned fear memory, including differences between extinction and inhibition of reconsolidation, indicates that this biology may have relevance to various ways in which psychoanalytic therapy is effective. The ideas proposed here might lead to further experimental attempts to understand the molecular biology of psychoanalysis.

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