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Glucksman, M.L. (2016). The Brain, the Mind and the Self, by Arnold Goldberg, Routledge, New York, 2015, 172 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 44(2):331-335.

(2016). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 44(2):331-335

The Brain, the Mind and the Self, by Arnold Goldberg, Routledge, New York, 2015, 172 pp.

Review by:
Myron L. Glucksman, M.D.

Arnold Goldberg introduces the book's content by informing us that the field of mental health has historically involved several disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. He believes that psychiatry has become too brain-centered and reductionistic; mental disorders are currently categorized according to symptoms and assumed to be manifestations of brain disturbances. Neuroscience focuses exclusively on brain activity and ignores subjective experience. On the other hand, psychology and psychoanalysis are concerned with the mind and self. Mind, of course, is generated by the brain and is the arena that provides meaning to what we experience. Goldberg asserts that the agent of organizing meaning and subjective experience is the self. One example that demonstrates the difference between mind, brain, and self is dreaming. Dream activity can be identified by the EEG, neuronal excitation, and nystagmus during REM sleep. Dreams are subjectively experienced as various forms of imagery involving our sensory modalities. However, the meaning of this imagery can only be derived from the dreamer's idiosyncratic feelings, memories, and experiences. It is the self that organizes and interprets these subjective phenomena.

Before exploring the mind and self, Goldberg devotes a considerable amount of time distinguishing between psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. According to him, the former is a hermeneutic science concerned with understanding and meaning. As a treatment, it may or may not provide symptom relief. However, as a result of being understood, the analysand achieves a feeling of well-being and self-control. On the other hand, psychodynamic psychotherapy is concerned with psychopathology and the reduction of symptoms. It may utilize interpretation, medication, and other therapeutic activities in order to achieve either symptom relief or perhaps cure. Goldberg believes that there is a misalliance between psychiatry, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis. Whereas psychiatry and psychotherapy aim to cure psychopathology and “realign behavior to an accepted norm,” the goal of psychoanalysis is to understand the meanings of experience and behavior.

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