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Murphy, M. (1987). On Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:547-548.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:547-548

On Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience

Michael Murphy

Dear Dr Hayley,

Solms & Saling (Int. J. Psycho-Anal (1986) 67: 397–416) have concluded that 'the deep rooted compatibility between Luria's neuropsychology and Freud's psychoanalysis … makes Freud's lifelong ambition that psychoanalysis be rejoined with neuroscience a very real possibility'. Meanwhile 'psychoanalysis could almost be called a provisional neuropsychology of personality'.

To reach the conclusion that both disciplines share 'the same fundamental principles' the authors quote passages from Luria's introduction to neuropsychology, The Working Brain which show that Luria eschews the nineteenth-century tradition of 'narrow localizationism' (Luria, 1973) and favours an approach to psychological processes that emphasizes their 'dynamic' nature and sees them as 'complex functional systems'. Like Luria they trace this alternative line of development in neurological thought to Hughlings Jackson and point out that Freud, in his monograph 'On aphasia', also rejects localizationism in favour of Jackson's theory of hierarchically organized levels of brain function. They then make their case that it is this work and not the Project that is the 'missing link' between Freud's neurological and psychoanalytic years. Their 'case against the Project' is 'that it is not a neurological model at all'. They cite Mancia (1983) who concludes 'the language of the Project is only metaphorical and does not take into account the neurophysiological knowledge of its time'.

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