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Golombek, H. (2000). A Discussion of Glen Gabbard's “What Can Neuroscience Teach Us About Transference?”. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 9(1):19-25.

(2000). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 9(1):19-25

A Discussion of Glen Gabbard's “What Can Neuroscience Teach Us About Transference?”

Harvey Golombek

In what follows I will synopsize some of the points that especially caught my attention in Glen Gabbard's paper, comment on their importance and relevance to psychodynamic therapists, and add some reflections of my own.

First, some of the essential points presented:

ο    The language of mind and the language of brain are quite distinct.

ο    Cognitive neuroscience research can deepen our understanding of mechanisms involved in the psychoanalytic concept of transference.

ο    Connections between neurons are modifiable.

ο    Representations of self or object are ultimately formed in neuronal networks through the principle of associability.

ο    Streams of information are combined by forming, strengthening, or pruning connections between them to form new or revised representations.

ο    There are multiple transferences, each of which reflects different representations and therefore different activations of neuronal networks.

ο    Psychoanalytic therapy creates new associative linkages accompanied by a deactivation of problematic linkages.

ο    Transference is bi-dimensional. It relates to the projection of an internal template and also to the patient's unconscious wishes for a new version of a relationship that will be reparative or healing.

ο    Internal representations are distributed throughout a network of neural units whose simultaneous activation is the essence of the representation.

ο    Emotion, perception, thought, memory, and behaviour are the product of activated neural circuits called “neural networks” or “assemblies.”

ο    Neural networks can be trained during a process in which the weights of synaptic connections may change.

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