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Solms, M. Saling, M. (1986). On Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience: Freud's Attitude to the Localizationist Tradition. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:397-416.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:397-416

On Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience: Freud's Attitude to the Localizationist Tradition

Mark Solms and Michael Saling


This study examines the relationship between psychoanalysis and neuroscience. It argues that the Project, the traditional starting-point for such an examination, provides few substantial links between Freud's neurological and psychoanalytic careers. The neurological model that the Project endorsed was not derived from Freud's formal neurological education, as has so often been assumed. It was based, instead, on the Jacksonian model that he developed in 'On aphasia' in 1891.

'On aphasia' appears to be the real 'missing link' between Freud's neurological and psychological years. The fundamental principles that it endorsed provided the framework within which psychoanalysis developed.

After Freud's death, Luria developed the science of dynamic neuropsychology, which is based on the same fundamental neurological assumptions as 'On aphasia'. Dynamic neuropsychology approaches brain functioning in a way that would have been entirely acceptable to Freud. Considering the deep-rooted compatibility between Luria's neuropsychology and Freud's psychoanalysis, it would be beneficial for both sciences if they were to collaborate on issues of common interest. This makes Freud's lifelong ambition that psychoanalysis be rejoined with neuroscience a very real possibility.

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