The Widening Intellectual Scope of Psychoanalysis

By Buckley, Peter | American Journal of Psychotherapy, Fall 1998 | Go to article overview

The Widening Intellectual Scope of Psychoanalysis


Buckley, Peter, American Journal of Psychotherapy


PETER BUCKLEY, M.D.*

THE WIDENING INTELLECTUAL SCOPE OF PSYCHOANALYSIS

In a recent featured article in The American Journal of Psychiatry,1 the distinguished neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Eric R. Kandel, exhorted psychoanalysis to undergo an intellectual renaissance by embracing both the insights of the neurobiological sciences and a true scientific tradition. He commented: "It would be unfortunate, even tragic, if the rich insights that have come from psychoanalysis were to be lost in the rapprochement between psychiatry and the biological sciences. With the perspective of time, we can readily see what has hindered the full intellectual development of psychoanalysis during the last century. To begin with, psychoanalysis has lacked any semblance of a scientific foundation. Even more, it has lacked a scientific tradition, a questioning tradition based not only on imaginative insights but on creative and critical experiments designed to explore, support, or, as is often the case, falsify those insights." Kandel's paper is provocative on many levels-he contends that in the course of psychoanalysis, interpretive and other interventions produce biological changes in the patient's brain. He observes that a neural basis for a set of unconscious processes has been discovered, albeit an unconscious quite different from that postulated by psychoanalysis, and he challenges psychoanalysis to establish the neurobiological properties of its unconscious.

A review of aspects of the recent psychoanalytic literature would suggest that Kandel's clarion call has been anticipated if not yet wholeheartedly embraced. Olds and Cooper2 recently observed: "Now that the cognitive and neuroscientists are studying the brain at higher levels of function, and are asking questions about memory, motivation, consciousness, emotion, and symbolism, we psychoanalysts are suddenly in the position of having an enormous amount of information to offer them." They cite recent work on the effect of stress on the hippocampus, that part of the brain which is the site of episodic memory (the memory of specific autobiographical events). Intense stress (such as child abuse), by a distinct neurobiological mechanism involving the inhibitory effect of glucocorticoid steroids, results in vague memories or general hyperarousal states that lose their time and space markers as opposed to clearly or accurately registered memories. They note that "memory of trauma may be distorted, obscured and reduced to non-specific fear and dread and it may be rendered timeless, never really relegated to the past, seeming always present, but because of the biology of its original registration, it cannot ever be 'restored' or 'recovered' with accuracy. As Freud described, such memories, may be `constructed,' but never 'reconstructed'." Olds and Cooper point out that such biological information provides confirmation for psychoanalytic inferences of trauma in a particular patient's past while "making us doubly suspicious of precisely recovered memories under such circumstances. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Widening Intellectual Scope of Psychoanalysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.