Neuropsychoanalysis: Casey Schwartz Examines Emerging Field

Psychoanalysis looks at the brain from the inside out: What does it feel like to be this thing? Neuroscience looks at the brain from the outside in, measuring its behavior, investigating its physical mechanisms. Casey Schwartz, In the Mind Fields, introducing concept of neuropsychoanalysis

Casey Schwartz has studied both psychoanalysis and neuroscience, and in her new book In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis she investigates how these two fields might intersect effectively. Her publisher:

Schwartz discovered that neuroscience and psychoanalysis are engaged in a conflict almost as old as the disciplines themselves. Many neuroscientists, if they think about psychoanalysis at all, view it as outdated, arbitrary, and subjective, while many psychoanalysts decry neuroscience as lacking the true texture of human experience. With passion and humor, Schwartz explores the surprising efforts to find common ground.

Kirkus Reviews summarizes the author’s approach:

After a bow to Freud and his followers, Schwartz focuses on two men: Mark Solms, both a psychoanalyst and a neurosurgeon, coiner of the term ‘neuropsychoanalysis,’ translator of Freud, and founder of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society; and David Silvers, not a psychiatrist but a practicing analyst, who has as a patient an aphasic stroke victim—i.e., a man who has lost the ability to speak. Schwartz follows Solms’ working and writing lives and includes some fascinating stories about his experiences and those of others working with brain-damaged men and women. She then connects with Silvers, who has been treating a man seemingly unreachable by psychoanalytic technique, a man whose case seems to offer the possibility of a bridge between psychoanalytic ideas and neuroscientific ones.

One of Schwartz’s main conclusions: “…(H)owever unlikely the idea, however unimaginable the design, neuropsychoanalysis may offer something valuable: a sketch of inner life where creativity isn’t simply explained as patterns of electrical waves, sadness as the number you circle between one and nine, and love confused with the mating habits of prairie voles.”

To read the excerpt from which this quote was taken, see this link at The Atlantic.

Selected Reviews

Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: “For too long, we’ve had to choose between the mind and the brain, between a psychodynamic vocabulary and a neuroscientific one. In this generous, insightful, witty book, Casey Schwartz looks at the steep cost of that dichotomous construct. Her meticulous reporting and lucid reasoning resolve seemingly intractable dialectics with the sheer grace of common sense.”

Publishers Weekly: “Though clearly knowledgeable, Schwartz is honest about her moments of indecision, further humanizing the narrative—indeed, the book ends with more questions yet to be answered rather than with concrete conclusions. Schwartz demonstrates the value of embracing confusion and the limitations of one’s knowledge while exploring the vast expanses of the mind.”

Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind: In the Mind Fields is a brilliant and enthralling exploration of a scientific and philosophical conundrum that has preoccupied thinkers from Descartes to Freud to Oliver Sacks: the relationship between brain and mind. Weaving together intellectual history, science reporting, bits of memoir, and a deep reservoir of humane sympathy, Casey Schwartz brings readers along with her on a bracing quest to bridge psychoanalysis and neuroscience. A work of remarkable brio, wisdom, and wit, with gems of insight shimmering on nearly every page.”

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