The Adaptive Design of the Human Psyche, Psychoanalysis, Evolution in Biology and the Therapeutic Process

By Pines, Malcolm | The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, January 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Adaptive Design of the Human Psyche, Psychoanalysis, Evolution in Biology and the Therapeutic Process


Pines, Malcolm, The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences


The Adaptive Design of the Human Psyche. Psychoanalysis, Evolution in Biology and the Therapeutic Process.

Slavin M O, Kreegman D.

New York, The Guilford Press 1992, 336 pp., price L13.50

The authors are psychoanalysts of self psychological orientation who have made an in-depth study of advances in genetics and socio-biology. The foreword is by the eminent biologist and leader in socio-biology, Robert Trivers. He writes that the authors "have stepped forward with a brilliantly argued book linking the two worlds of evolution and psychoanalysis... their treatment of biology is expert... through Slavin and Kreegman show the two major narratives of current psychoanalytic thought into a single more powerful form."

Two streams are the classical (drive) and relational narratives. The exposition of psychoanalytic schools is accurate and clear. When the authors reach the realm of contemporary evolutionary theory they are equally accurate and clear. They explain that by "adaptive design" they mean that there are deep universally shared ways of processing experience through structures which have been shaped through natural selection and which therefore have allowed us to negotiate more successfully the complexities of the human social environment. Psychoanalytic theory of human adaptation (e.g., Hartmann) has grasped pieces of this evolved adaptive system but has not encompassed the whole.

Human beings are born with a innately "semi-social psyche." We are innately selfish, self-interested and experience"driven"aims. As social creatures we are also endowed with altruistic, loving social motives. The internal experience of a conflict between these constitutional motives is experienced as intra-psychic conflict.

The pace of change in genetics and socio-biology is always accelerating, yet this book, published in 1992, will give readers a sound and reliable basis in the field of evolutionary biology as well as an up-to-date resume of the different psychoanalytic schools. …

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