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Marshall, J.C. (2001). Commentary by John C. Marshall. Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(1):27-28.

(2001). Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(1):27-28

Commentary by John C. Marshall Related Papers

John C. Marshall

Clearly there are two Freuds: the neurological Freud and the analytic Freud. Clearly, the two are intimately related. And equally clearly, as Carlo Semenza reiterates, Freud overtly ditched his neurological self in the closing years of the 19th century and thereafter preserved only his psychology. Semenza argues, correctly I believe, that Freud always retained his conviction that cognition was biologically grounded but could see no way in which this fact could help explain the phenomena that interested him. He accordingly chose, in Semenza's words, “to behave as if only psychological facts were available.”

Although, as I said, Semenza's account seems to fit the available record, there is nevertheless something odd, uncanny even, about the timing of Freud's choice. By 1900 (the publication date of The Interpretation of Dreams), the foundation had already been laid for a behavioral neurology in which the patterns of preserved and impaired cognition after relatively focal brain injury began to assume a comprehensible form. Preliminary decompositions of the language faculty, of object recognition, of memory, of reading and writing, and of skilled praxis had already been published by the major figures in clinical neurology in England, France, Germany, and Scotland. What better time, then, to join an emerging field that promised even greater discoveries to come? In a sense, Freud started out in precisely this direction: The monograph on aphasia (1891) and the unpublished manuscript that we know as “A Project for a Scientific Psychology(1895) were indeed critical of some aspects of the diagram-makers' work, but these writings could nonetheless be plausibly regarded as a continuation and deepening of the new paradigm (Marshall, 1974).

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