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Shevrin, H. (1999). University of Michigan: Program of Research on Unconscious Processes. Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(2):287-288.

(1999). Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(2):287-288

University of Michigan: Program of Research on Unconscious Processes

Howard Shevrin, Ph.D.

Our research program addresses the need for the clinical and experimental investigation of the fundamental assumption of psychoanalytic theory, method, and practice: the existence of unconscious mental processes.

Our first goal has been to provide evidence independent of the clinical situation for the existence of unconscious processes which until quite recently has been rejected by most nonpsychoanalytic researchers. Psychoanalytic theoreticians starting with Freud and including Rapaport, Rubinstein and Edelson have stressed the need for such independent evidence. We have been able to demonstrate under the most stringent laboratory conditions in a series of studies based on the method of subliminal stimulation that unconscious processes exist. We are the first to discover visual event-related potential brain correlates of unconscious processes.

Our second goal has been to investigate clinical hypotheses concerning the role that unconscious processes play in psychopathology. We have shown that event-related brain waves can distinguish between preconscious and dynamic unconscious processes related to the intrapsychic. We have also demonstrated the existence of unconscious affect reflected in unconscious processing of affective meaning, autonomic arousal, and expressive muscular changes, thus providing support for the position that unconscious affect is not dispositional but can be as unconscious as cognitive contents. In other research we have found evidence for unconscious signal anxiety reflected in brain expectancy waves in an aversive conditioning paradigm.

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