That is both a shame and an amazing intellectual opportunity, says the South African neuropsychologist and psychoanalyst Mark Solms, co-chair of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society. He roams about the room, kissing women on both cheeks, bear-hugging old friends. Solms is convinced that reconnecting psychoanalysis and neuroscience is absolutely essential — the only way we will ever truly understand the brain.
The point is not to prove that Freud was right, but to apply the techniques of modern biology to explore some of his most enduring ideas. Neurobiology has the ability to test these ideas with powerful tools and experimental rigor.
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Together, the two fields might finally answer the most elusive question of them all: How is it that dreams, fantasies, memories and feelings — the subjective self — emerge from a hunk of flesh? As a child, he loved and revered his older brother Lee. But when Solms was 4, Lee fell off the roof of the local yacht club and hit his head, seriously injuring his brain. When Lee came home from the hospital, he had changed. He had no interest in the elaborate fantasy games that the brothers used to play. He was lethargic and slow, and he had to wear a helmet.
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He seemed like a different person. Mark was devastated. He had lost his best friend. But his crisis was also existential. The shock shaped Solms in ways he would not recognize for years to come. When he began college in , he studied medicine and brain science, planning to help people like his brother. But he was also seeking answers to the question that haunted him: How can it be that a physical organ — a piece of meat — determines who we are? He soon found out, to his dismay, that neuroscientists at that time did not probe the mystery of the self.
Faced with the complexity of the brain, neuroscience focused on questions that could be subdivided into manageable units: How we see, how we move, how nerve cells work. The vivid experience of selfhood, the swirl of being, was not on the curriculum. Yearning for answers, Solms wandered into a university philosophy seminar on Freudian dream theory. Our minds are divided, the lecturer explained. Roiling beneath the surface are the primal drives of the id — the mental force that Freud said generated unconscious lust, aggression, hidden fantasies and wishes.
The mental mechanisms of the ego struggle to contain this mad turmoil. One result of this constant battle: the twisted, distorted narratives in dreams. It was an awakening.
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Finally, here was someone trying to think systematically and scientifically about the real matter of inner life. The answer: nobody. Such topics are not appropriate for science, the young Solms was told. Solms had run headfirst into an ideological roadblock.
At the time, psychoanalytic ideas still guided the treatment of the mentally ill. But lab scientists engaged in brain research — the neuroscientists — rejected psychoanalysis whole cloth. There were no experiments — no objective data — to show it made any sense at all. By the s, Freud-bashing was a well-established sport in neuroscience. Harvard neurobiologist J.
Allan Hobson used recordings of brain activity from sleeping people to gleefully trash psychoanalytic dream theory, and by implication, the central Freudian ideas of censorship and repression. The nonsense in dreams is caused by random electrical noise in nerve cells, asserted Hobson, a kind of cellular static; repression had nothing to do with it. Solms was undeterred. After he finished his doctorate degree in , he was faced with being drafted into the white South African military.
He left for a job as a neuropsychologist in the U. By day, he was a conventional doctor in the neurosurgical rehab ward at the Royal London Hospital.
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By night, he studied to become a psychoanalyst. He thought that some of what he was being taught was speculative and dogmatic. But at least it recognized that the real mystery of the brain was an existential one. It posed the crucial question of what it means to be a mind that thinks. To disregard this problem, as neuroscience did, was a massive intellectual error, Solms believed.
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Any answers you get are bound to be wrong. As all shrinks-in-training are still required to do, Solms went through analysis himself: five days a week for nine years. Like other types of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis focuses on emotions and explicit beliefs about the world.
Unlike the briefer forms of counseling that are now more common, it also explores unconscious thoughts and feelings, the wishes, memories and other self-involved thoughts constantly bubbling beneath the surface. The analyst helps the unhappy patient notice destructive patterns in his own life, especially where he avoids painful memories or feelings. In practice, this talking cure translates into deep self-knowledge. For Solms, the experience was liberating.
THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN SEXUALITY
Lee never regained his lost abilities, and to this day he struggles with his mental impairments. Out of sympathy with his brother, Mark went through childhood filled with guilt about growing up, of learning and achieving and doing things his brother would never be able to do. He held himself back. He began planning how to scientifically scrutinize psychoanalytic concepts, starting with Freud. At the same time, Solms began using techniques from analysis to help his brain-injured patients cope with their confusion and fear.
Some had lost most of their memories. Some no longer had any idea who they were. Yet to Solms, it made perfect sense. Someone whose life has been shattered clearly needs counseling as well as medical treatment. He sat down with his patients and listened to their experiences. Studying how brain damage affects thoughts and behaviors is one of the oldest techniques in neuroscience. Solms began to systematically evaluate the hallucinations and delusions of his patients in the light of Freudian concepts like denial and wish fulfillment.
Simply put, these two ideas propose that we prefer to see the world as we wish it were, rather than as it truly is. Facing the facts is difficult, requiring sustained mental labor and a high-functioning brain.
congdong.bancongxanh.com/35230.php A person who cannot sustain this effort winds up living in a fantasy world. Some had survived an arterial rupture, a common type of stroke that damages brain regions that organize the perception of space and time. The bewildered patient makes up ludicrous stories to explain the world, a condition called confabulatory amnesia. To Solms, it was fascinating. The mind that lurked behind the damaged brain could be seen in the details of these loopy explanations.
For example, one patient, a former electronic engineer, always greeted Solms as a fellow engineer. Men in polygynous marriages were not expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate, whereas men in monogamous marriages were. In sharp contrast, whether they are in a monogamous or polygynous marriage, women were always expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate.
So being sexually exclusive is evolutionarily novel for men, but not for women. And the theory predicts that more intelligent men are more likely to value sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men, but general intelligence makes no difference for women's value on sexual exclusivity. Kanazawa's analysis of Add Health data supports these sex-specific predictions as well.
One intriguing but theoretically predicted finding of the study is that more intelligent people are no more or no less likely to value such evolutionarily familiar entities as marriage, family, children, and friends. Explore further. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors.
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