Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience: Ten Years Later

Perhaps more than any other branch of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis (in the last two or three decades) has moved to embrace and integrate the discoveries of neuroscience and neurobiology. The most progressive example of this trend is the group of interpersonal neurobiologists around Dan Siegel, Allan Schore, Alan Fogel, and many others, nearly all of whom come from a psychoanalytic background.

In the video below is a discussion about psychoanalysis and neuroscience that took place in 2010 at the Philoctetes Center, featuring a roundtable discussion with Cristina Alberini, Heather Berlin, Vittorio Gallese, Robert Michels, Donald Pfaff, and Mark Solms. The conversation was in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis.

Of the speakers in this discussion, I am most familiar with Mark Solms, primarily through his book, The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of the Subjective Experience. He is scheduled to be in Tucson later this year at the Psychoanalytic Society, a talk I look forward to attending.

Here the brief introduction to the event below:
It's been over ten years since the first issue of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis was published, and almost twenty years since an ongoing series of meetings between psychoanalysts and neuroscientists was initiated at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. This roundtable will discuss and review the progress made, the pitfalls and the gains, and the attempt to delineate possible paths forward in this emerging interdisciplinary field.

Roundtable Participants:

Cristina Alberini is Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Structural and Chemical Biology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her current research interest is in learning and memory.

Heather A. Berlin is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she also completed an NIMH Postdoctoral Fellowship, and conducts research with brain lesion and impulsive, compulsive, and dissociative disorder patients. Dr. Berlin has conducted clinical research with diverse psychiatric and neurological populations in both the U.S. and the U.K., and has published her research in a number of prominent journals. She has taught at Vassar College, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, conducting courses on the Neurobiology of Consciousness. She is interested in the neural basis of the dynamic unconscious.

Vittorio Gallese is Professor of Human Physiology at the University of Parma, where he teaches cardiovascular physiology and neurophysiology in the School of Medicine. He also teaches neuroscience in the graduate program in Philosophy of Mind at the University of Bologna. His main research interest lies in the relationship between action perception and cognition, and has published several papers about mirror neurons.

Robert Michels is Walsh McDermott University Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. He is also Joint Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and Deputy Editor of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Donald Pfaff is Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior at The Rockefeller University. He is a brain scientist who uses neuroanatomical, neurochemical and neurophysiological methods to study the cellular mechanisms by which the brain controls behavior. Dr. Pfaff is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, a member of the Advisory Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He serves on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals.

Mark Solms is Professor and Chair of Neuropsychology in the University of Cape Town's Psychology Department, and is both a neuroscientist and a psychoanalyst. He has won numerous awards for his pioneering work in neuropsychoanalysis, including the International Psychiatrist Award from the American Psychiatric Association and Best Science Writing Awards. Solms has published 350 journal articles, book chapters, and six books. His book, The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of the Subjective Experience, has been translated into 12 languages. Solms runs research initiatives at UCT, at the Arnold Pfeiffer Centre for Neuropsychoanalysis in New York, and at the Anna Freud Centre in London.

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