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Green, A. (1999). Consilience and Rigour Commentary by André Green. Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(1):40-44.

(1999). Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(1):40-44

Consilience and Rigour Commentary by André Green

André Green

A psychoanalyst, especially one who has advocated exchanging views with neurobiologists, should rejoice at reading a paper that recognizes the pertinence of Freud's work in this field, that agrees on the centrality of the pleasure-unpleasure principle, and accepts the idea that affects are ingrained in unconscious processes. Moreover, it is a paper that adopts the fundamental distinctions between inner and outer perceptual modalities, admits the usefulness of the idea of binding, and makes reference to id functions. It defends the long-term influence of affectivity, and is open to even some of Freud's most speculative views on the relationship of affect to phylogenesis (though interpreted differently). Finally, the neurobiologist acknowledges Freud's courage in probing “into these darker areas of the human psyche.” But beyond these general statements almost everything Freud wrote seems in fact very doubtful in the light of neuroscience.

The psychoanalyst may also find some relief when reading the criticisms that the neurobiologist addresses to his colleagues: They deliberately want to underestimate the importance of affect, they are caught in and proud of their ultrapositivistic ideology, they are deaf to higher integrative issues, they consider feelings as epiphenomenal flotsam, they are victims of their own blinders, and finally they are ruled by some unspoken prohibition on being interested in understanding the fundamental nature of affective experience. Having given such tokens of good will, Panksepp expects his psychoanalytic partners in the dialogue to make parallel criticisms in their own field.

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