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Fonagy, P. (2003). Genetics, Developmental Psychopathology, and Psychoanalytic Theory: The Case for Ending Our (Not So) Splendid Isolation. Psychoanal. Inq., 23(2):218-247.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 23(2):218-247

Genetics, Developmental Psychopathology, and Psychoanalytic Theory: The Case for Ending Our (Not So) Splendid Isolation

Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA

This paper considers the historical isolation of psychoanalysis from other scientific academic disciplines. The example of behavior genetics is used to illustrate the potential mutual benefit of cross-fertilization. Exploring links between the two disciplines makes it possible to debate antipsycho-analytic constructions in behavior genetics with greater vigor. At the same time, psychoanalysis, which studies subjectivity, is relevant to a discipline that naively explores the objective environment without considering the crucial mediation through the subjective world. Microbiology and genetics offer models of the mechanisms by which meaning generation and interpretive capacity might interface with the unfolding of genetic expression. Simultaneously, emerging psychoanalytic developmental models have provided an ontogenetic psychological framework that links development of this capacity to the infant-mother relationship. The paper concludes by stressing the need for a cadre of specialist psychoanalytic professionals dedicated to research as the precondition of any meaningful dialogue between psychoanalysis and any other discipline.

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