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Breathing New Life Into Freud

Question: What is neuropsychoanalysis?


Siri Hustvedt: \r\nI became interested in neuropsychoanalysis through the person who\r\n is\r\nreally responsible, I think, for beginning this movement or \r\norganization.  His name is Mark Solms.  And he's a brain researcher and a\r\npsychoanalyst.  He's worked\r\nparticularly doing dream research, but he's done other explorations as\r\nwell.  And it really is an\r\norganization that is trying to fulfill an old dream of Freud's.  In 1895, Freud, who was then a\r\nneurologist and he had spent a long time working on nerve cells, as a\r\nscientist.  So, he sat down and\r\nwrote something that is now called "The Project."  It's\r\n a project for a scientific psychology.  And his \r\nhope was that, what he knew\r\nabout the brain and the nervous system would provide him with a map or a\r\n model\r\nof how the mind works. 


He worked on this in a great fury and then he \r\nrealized that\r\nscience simply was not able to answer the questions that he had, he put\r\n"The Project" aside and the fate of psychoanalysis went from\r\nthere.  In other words, Freud\r\nalways knew that the underpinnings of what he thought of as the psyche \r\nand his\r\npsychic model were in the brain, in these neuronal networks that are \r\ncoursing\r\nthrough us all the time.  But he\r\ncouldn't fit them together. 


So, neuropsychoanalysis is really trying to join \r\ntwo\r\nlanguages; the language of the psyche and Freudian psychoanalysis—which \r\nof\r\ncourse has gone in many different directions, it’s not just Freud—and\r\nneurobiology, and see how these two can be fit together because there is\r\n a\r\nfit.  It's not easy, but there is a\r\nfit.


Question: Does the field further\r\nFreud’s project of analyzing the individual mind?


Siri Hustvedt: I think that's the hope.  I think that's exactly the hope.  Now,\r\n neuropsychoanalysis does not want\r\nto leave out subjectivity.  In\r\nother words, we all have a subjective reality.  And\r\n talk therapy, psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic\r\npsychotherapy, is all about constructing some kind of narrative for the \r\npatient\r\nout of subjective experience.  But\r\neven that... I mean subjectivity itself is now a huge subject in brain \r\nresearch.  Where does subjectivity come from?  How does it work on the level of\r\nneurons and synapses in the brain? \r\nAnd people are studying this very carefully. 


I don't think—there's no solution, but\r\n there are overlaps.  I mean, very recently I read\r\n a paper by five Italian\r\nneuroscientists who were talking about something called long-term \r\npotentiation\r\nin neural networks in the brain that are connected to learning and \r\nmemory.  And they had been looking at Freud's\r\nproject, the project I just talked about that he put aside, and they're\r\nconclusion was that the project actually anticipates contemporary \r\nneuroscience\r\nresearch into LTP's.  Pretty\r\nfascinating.

How the emerging science of neuropsychoanalysis is reviving Sigmund Freud’s old project: analyzing the subjective experience of the individual mind.

Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.

Personal Growth
  • We spend 40 percent of our childhoods asleep, a time for cognitive growth and development.
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    • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
    • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

    Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

    Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

    Credit: Neom
    Technology & Innovation
    • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
    • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
    • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
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    COVID-19 brain study to explore long-term effects of the virus

    A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.

    • The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
    • The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
    • Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
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