Neuropsychoanalysis in Practice: Brain, Self and Objects
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Is the Ego nothing but our brain? Are our mental and psychological states nothing but neuronal states of our brain? Though Sigmund Freud rejected a neuroscientific foundation for psychoanalysis, recent knowledge in neuroscience has provided novel insights into the brain and its neuronal mechanisms. This has also shed light on how the brain itself contributes to the differentiation between neuronal and psychological states.
In Neuropsychoanalysis in Practice , Georg Northoff discusses the various neuronal mechanisms that may enable the transformation of neuronal into psychological states, looking at how these processes are altered in psychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia. He focuses specifically on how the brain is organized and how this organization enables the brain to differentiate between neuronal and psychodynamic states, that is, the brain and the psyche. This leads him to discuss not only empirical issues but also conceptual problems, for instance, the concept of the brain. Neuropsychoanalysis in Practice applies these concepts and mechanisms to explain the various symptoms observed in psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. In addition to the empirical issues, he also discusses various conceptual and methodological issues that are relevant in linking neuroscience and psychoanalysis, developing a novel transdisciplinary framework for linking neuroscience, psychoanalysis and philosophy.
This highly original new book will help foster new dialogues between neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, and will be fascinating reading for anyone in these disciplines.
objects. Externalization and the “co-occurrence and co-constitution of self and objects” The concept of internalization targets the constitution of the self and its differentiation from objects. It thus presupposes the point of view of the self. However, one may also take the opposite point of view, the point of view of the object, and focus on how objects are differentiated from the self, thus approaching self–object differentiation from the point of view of the object. The point of view of the
both the object and the self in any particular interaction” (Kernberg, 1966, p. 361). Psychodynamically this results in an ever changing “world of inner objects” that is continuously matched and compared with both the experience of the inner mental world of the self and the perception of the objects in the external environment. The inner objects are continuously modified and reshaped in order to adapt them as well as possible to the perception of the external environment of objects while at the
transforming the brain’s neuronal states and its neural processing of intero- and exteroceptive stimuli into mental states and objects (i.e. neuronal–mental and stimulus–object transformation) (see Chapter 5). This provided the neural basis or neural equipment for the subsequent investigation of how self and objects differentiate from the brain (i.e. brain–self and brain–object differentiation) (see Chapter 6). I here shifted my focus to early defense mechanisms like internalization and
self-object to characterize the special relationship of the self to specific objects that serve to maintain and sustain the self. This will be discussed later on. Thus when speaking of objects in this sense, I shall denote this by putting parentheses around the term “self” before the term object. 165 166 NARCISSISM, SELF-OBJECTS, AND THE BRAIN Most importantly, the archaic self is in need of mirroring, idealization, and admiration by other objects (i.e. persons), such as the parents, in
neuropsychiatric disorders as the starting point for learning something about the healthy psyche (i.e. how the healthy psychic apparatus must function if it can produce the kinds of symptoms that are observed in such pathological conditions). The Appendix adopts this approach and claims that depression can be regarded as a paradigmatic example of altered brain–self differentiation, whereas in psychosis brain–object differentiation may be altered in a paradigmatic way. These alterations are only