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CHAPTER SEVEN: Defence structures and the development of consciousness

Sasso, Giampaolo Karnac Books ePub

Ibelieve that the dynamic concept of the different pathogenic classes offers some useful insights as to the kind of processes that Freud wished to conceptualize with regard to the neural apparatus. The explanations presented here repropose in a modern version the cathexis displacement so dear to Freud together with a number of hypotheses concerning their dynamic meanings. This analogy shows, however, how the Freudian idea of discharge drastically changes into that of reintegrable function along the pathway and can be recomposed among the various “s” and “o” elements through dynamic fows of information.

This different theoretical aspect therefore also translates the important Freudian concept of cathectic mobile energy in the psychic apparatus. The concept of binding cathexis, which is so important in Freud, has a precise correspondence in the model presented here: the P and I modalities explicitly indicate the respective directions of the anticathexes and cathexes, although they are now interpreted as projective-introjective characteristics of an element in the pathway.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: The origin of language

Sasso, Giampaolo Karnac Books ePub

Freud believed, in line with the positivist training he received in his studies, that by using words in order to recover memories it was possible to gain access to the unconscious and thereby resolve psychic conficts. Freud would probably be struck by the changes that have occurred, in the various psychoanalytic models and the way in which his original hypotheses are used, even though he himself had had to modify them several times during the practice of his clinical work after his initial expectations had been proved wrong. Does language truly help us gain access to the unconscious? If so, what really happens in the patient’s mind?

The diffculty in answering these questions depends, according to the model proposed here, on an essentially abstract concept of language, which does not take into suffcient consideration the nervous system of the brain. I think however that a more precise meaning of language can be intuitively understood if an explanation can be given of how its functions form from the dynamic properties of the reticulum, which is continuously subject to projec-tive-introjective fows. In this case, language can be interpreted as something quite different from an abstract process of signifcation(of a linguistic or cognitive type). Indeed, it appears clear how language has to interact in a concrete way with these fows of information, and therefore brings about real effects in the personal dynamics of the reticulum.

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CHAPTER NINE: Child development and the integration of psychoanalysis and neuroscience

Sasso, Giampaolo Karnac Books ePub

What conclusions can we draw, therefore, from the many ideas examined in the previous chapters?

In the Project, Freud tried to ground the concepts that were to become the foundations for psychoanalysis in the neuro-physiological knowledge of the time. There is no doubt but that it was the mistaken hypothesis of energy directed at fulflment that gave rise both to the fertile nucleus of the entire theoretical framework and to its limitations. Clear advantages and disadvantages have resulted from Freud’s choice. It would surely be in no way reductive to suggest that the highly condensed nature of this conceptual nucleus had to be expanded, frst and foremost, through clinical and theoretical development, and that only recently has it been possible to return to the original neurophysiological focus.

For over a century, Freudian concepts have been useful in describing mental activity and though fraught with controversy, this may well have made it possible for them to acquire, over time, probative value for the neuroscientist. To fully understand this new convergence of interest between psychoanalysis and neurosciencewe do, however, need to take into account the crucial importance of the rapid growth of knowledge about the brain.

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CHAPTER SIX: Normal and pathogenic development of mother-child interaction

Sasso, Giampaolo Karnac Books ePub

The dynamic concept of the reticulum is very useful in helping to understand drive development and its relationship to relational development, as was seen in the previous chapter. The characteristics of the P-I dynamics are even more interesting, however, as they permit a thorough analysis of Edelman/Tononi’s hypotheses about neuronal selection in cerebral mapping, and suggest other more complete explanations of how maternal interaction can modify the child’s brain. The widely held belief that mother-child relations necessarily produce cerebral changes (Schore, 1994; Hadley, 1989) has a plausible explanation in the effects that maternal patterns can have on the development of the “s-o” pathways of the reticulum, as will now be illustrated.

The most interesting feature of these changes is not however their mere neurophysiological significance, but the kind of theo retical framework they provide for the different psychoanalytical models, from Freud onwards. The P-I dynamics, approached in the right way, shed light not just on the way in which the mother di rectly influences the maturation of certain neural areas, but also on the way in which these developments typically identify different perspectives in psychoanalytic theory.

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CHAPTER TEN: The unresolved problems of Freudian metapsychology

Sasso, Giampaolo Karnac Books ePub

We started this book by re-exploring the significance of Freud’s Project but what conclusions have we come to? In the light of what we have looked at, I think we can safely say that, given the level of neurophysiological knowledge of the time, there was no way in which Freud could have ideated the P-I dynamic although it was latent in his theoretical model.

Through his understanding of child development, had Freud been able to make explicit reference to this dynamic as its nucleus, he would certainly have modifed his concept of the libido, toning down the sexual connotation and highlighting its relational function. At the time when Freud was working, however, sexuality was conspicuously at the centre of a patient’s disorders and Freud was inevitably led towards drive theory because of this pathogenic function.

His neurophysiological assumptions in the Project were not, however, very far from our own. The original focus of his interest was in understanding how “the subject complex” could emerge, by means of proper access to the memory traces of the ψ neurons, from the necessary control of the “object complex”. It only seems rightthat, having reached the fnal chapter of this book, we should attempt, in due recognition of Freud’s work, to translate into our own neurophysiological language, some of the basis tenets on which he founded his two main topics: the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious and the ego, id, and superego. The P-I dynamic contributes to these two groupings and it would be useful to refect once more on how Freud understood the cerebral dynamic and how this compares with what we know today.

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