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Barratt, B.B. (2015). Rejoinder to Mark Solms's Response to “Critical Notes on the Neuro-Evolutionary Archaeology of Affective Systems”. Psychoanal. Rev., 102(2):221-227.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Review, 102(2):221-227

Rejoinder to Mark Solms's Response to “Critical Notes on the Neuro-Evolutionary Archaeology of Affective Systems” Related Papers

Barnaby B. Barratt, Ph.D., DHS

It is an honor that Professor Solms (2015) responds to my paper (Barratt, 2015), for he has done so much to demonstrate the relevance of metapsychological models for clinical intervention with neurologically impaired patients, which is a significant contribution to the field of mental health. However, metapsychology (and its application in diverse settings) is not to be equated with psychoanalytic praxis per se. Moreover, the latter is misunderstood if taken to be a mere application of a theoretical model in the manner that the theories of engineering govern the construction or repair of a highway. In this regard, I believe the relevance of a science that renders objectivistic findings about brain functions to a science that would heal the fracturing of our lived experiences is far more complex—epistemologically, ontologically, and ethically—than Solms seems to grasp. These distinctions between metapsychology and praxis, as well as between experimental science and a science of a different sort, have crucial ramifications for our understanding of psychoanalysis and indeed for our fundamental approach to the sacred tasks of healing.

Solms acknowledges shortcomings in Panksepp's psychotherapeutic recommendations. Yet the issue is not as trifling as he implies. It pertains to the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the way so many neuroscientists speak with apparent authority on matters that concern how we live and how we heal the suffering of our psychic life—matters that are the wellspring of psychoanalytic praxis. Indeed, there are sound reasons why “otherwise sensible psychoanalysts” are cautious about such extrapolations from the findings of neuroscience—a caution that Solms promptly denounces as “untenable” (p. 209). Solms thus misses the central point of my paper in so far as it concerns metascience (that is, the relations between scientific discourses that are quite distinct, which is a matter that goes far beyond the usual considerations of interdisciplinarity).

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