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Tuch, R. (2015). Brief Communicaction: Problems Applying Neuroscientific Research to the Clinical Setting. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(2):311-316.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(2):311-316

Research News & Reviews

Brief Communicaction: Problems Applying Neuroscientific Research to the Clinical Setting Related Papers

Richard Tuch

During a recent institute seminar I was co-instructing I proposed that emotional memories are durable (McGaugh 1989; LeDoux, Romanski, and Xagorasis 1989, van der Kolk 1994) and continue to exert influence over an individual's emotional life even after the transference has been “worked through.” Studies of analysands who have successfully completed analysis, for example, demonstrate a robust tendency to continue to react transferentially when placed in an unstructured interpersonal environment (Pfeffer 1959, 1961, 1963, 1993). Rather than eradicating the transference reaction, working through had given the analyzed individual the ability to stand apart from the experience and recognize it for what it was. Such studies strongly suggest that the best clinical outcome that can be hoped for is the modification of unconscious associational networks brought about by “weakening links between mental processes that have become associatively linked…. [This involves] the creation of new associative linkages, or the strengthening of links that were previously weak” (Gabbard and Westen 2003, p. 828).

In response, a well-read student challenged my assertion, referencing a source (Ecker, Ticic, and Hulley 2012) that cites neuroscientific evidence of neuroplasticity (Nader, Schafe, and LeDoux 2000; Pedreira and Maldonado 2003; Pedreira, Perez-Cuesta, and Maldonado 2002, 2004). These studies suggest the emotional component of a traumatic memory can be completely erased and replaced by new learning, leaving behind no behavioral or subjective trace while keeping intact the rest of the subject's autobiographical memory.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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