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Freedman, D.A. (1994). Memory's Voice. Deciphering the Brain-Mind Code: By Daniel L. Alkon, M.D. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992. 285 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:784-787.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:784-787

Memory's Voice. Deciphering the Brain-Mind Code: By Daniel L. Alkon, M.D. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992. 285 pp.

Review by:
David A. Freedman

Whether one dates the origins of psychoanalysis to the publication of On Aphasia (1891), to the writing of the Project (1895), or to the writing of The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), the present decade marks our centennial. It also happens to have been declared "The Decade of the Brain" by the neurobiological community. Despite shared roots in nineteenth century philosophy and medicine, the two disciplines have pursued separate courses of development since. Thus, the decade of the 1890's was also the decade of Ramón y Cajal and the establishment of the neuron doctrine. Freud was an early adherent to what was, at the time, a hotly disputed hypothesis. His attempt, in the Project, to construct a neurological model of mental functioning depended heavily on the concept of structurally independent neurons which were connected to one another at "contact barriers." It was not until the first decade of the next century that Sherrington proposed the name "synapse" for these hypothesized structures. By then Freud seems to have come to the conclusion that the data available to him would not support a workable neurobiological model of the mind. Psychoanalysis had become a separate discipline, and the problem of the relation of the phenomena it studied to the underlying workings of the nervous system seemed, with passage of time, to be less and less pertinent. Alkon, if nothing else, provides us with the opportunity to assess the relevance, for our field, of some of the dramatic developments in neurobiology since Freud turned to a purely mentalistic metaphor in his effort to explain human psychology.

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