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Spence, S.A. (2009). Response to Commentaries. Neuropsychoanalysis, 11(2):179-180.

(2009). Neuropsychoanalysis, 11(2):179-180

Response to Commentaries Related Papers

Sean A. Spence

First of all, we should like to acknowledge our gratitude to Ariane Bazan, Andrew Gerber, and Robert Scharf for their detailed and thought-provoking comments and also for their preparedness to engage in discussion of a cognitive neurobiological approach to free association. To advance this field—to facilitate the collaborative discourse envisaged by Piaget (see our target article)—requires that practitioners from a variety of disciplines be receptive to the possibility of an open, interdisciplinary discussion of complex mental phenomena (which may themselves have attracted varying descriptive labels across different literatures). Certainly, this has been our starting point with respect to free association, which we see as an example of a quintessentially “executive” process, albeit one that is utilized for therapeutic ends during the course of the psychoanalytic encounter.

The issues raised by Bazan, Gerber, and Scharf are all well taken, and here we touch solely upon those points of confluence that may point the way to future empirical work in this area.

To begin with, Bazan rightly directs us to a careful consideration of what we mean by “free” association and those attributes that define the process as it is currently practiced. An interesting distinction that arises is one that we also identified in our article— namely, that between a “free association” that is discursive or generative in nature, elaborating novel responses within a given environment, and that which is relatively automatic and, hence, “routine.”

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