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Kessler, L. (2016). Commentary on ‘The Case for Neuropsychoanalysis’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1145-1147.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1145-1147

Commentary on ‘The Case for Neuropsychoanalysis’ Related Papers

Luba Kessler, M.D.

Dear Editor,

As a psychoanalyst intrigued by the hyphen in the neuro-psychoanalysis I welcomed the discussion for and against ‘The case for neuropsychoanalysis’ (2015), but was rather demoralized by the absence of the ‘meeting of the minds’ on two sides of it.

Yovell, Solms and Fotopoulou seemed to do disservice to their case of the usefulness of the neuropsychoanalysis by substituting psychological operations (repression) with proposed organic causation of changed brain morphology (of the hippocampus) in their clinical illustration. To psychoanalysts such as Blass and Carmeli (2015) who are skeptical of the conceptual and clinical contribution of the neurosciences to psychoanalysis, this gave cause for renewed opposition, and even alarm.

Something seems amiss. There is probably an existing consensus that each discipline speaks its own language, not translatable into the other because neither the organic nor the psychic realm has equivalence in the other. This, indeed, is what Yovell et al. say on p. 1522 in ‘Points of agreement’, namely that: “Psychoanalysis and neurosciences … employ different methodologies to investigate two complementary aspects of the human mind - the subjective and the objective, neither of which is reducible to the other or more real than the other”.

What then is the lingua franca to bridge the hyphen? Could the Jacksonian view championed in the Yovell et al. article provide one? What if instead of saying “two complementary aspects of the human mind” we were to say that the two disciplines represent two levels of functional organization of the human mind? Thinking of them as functional organizations, each in its own realm, gives each own autonomy yet also correspondence with the other.

[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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