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Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience:
Enemies, Acquaintances, Bedfellows?
A Conversation

For new material on this subject (January 2006) see
The Psychoanalyst and the Neurobiologist

Presented by the Bryn Mawr College Center for Science and Society and the Fellows Program of the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

Co-sponsored by the Alliance for Psychoanalytic Thought, the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work, and the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research

Image by Rachel Grobstein

Psychoanalysis and neuroscience are intellectual traditions having some historical commonalities but, until recently, largely independent evolutionary courses. Indeed, relations between the two traditions has been characterized to a significant extent by mutual indifference at best and some active hostility at worst.

There is, however, increasing reason to believe that the future evolution of both intellectual traditions might be advanced by greater awareness of the perspectives and findings of the other.

This program will bring together representatives of psychoanalysis and neuroscience, together with other mental health professionals and interested people, to discuss the pros and cons of an expanded and more sympathetic exchange between the traditions of psychoanalysis and neuroscience. It will include recommended readings, a panel presentation, open discussion, and an on-line forum for continuing conversation.

Program objectives:

  • To outline and explore similarities and differences between the perspectives on human behavior offered by current psychoanalytic and neuroscientific perspectives.
  • To outline and explore the extent to which past, current, and ongoing findings in neuroscience are or can become significant for psychoanalytic practice and theory.
  • To outline and explore the extent to which past, current, and ongoing developments in psychoanalysis are or can become significant for neuroscientific inquiry and theory.
  • To characterize whatever points of useful commonality currently exist between psychoanalysis and neuroscience and attempt to suggest ways in which these might be enhanced in the future.

Panel and open discussion

Wednesday, 8 October 2003
7:15-9:15 pm
Thomas Room 110 at Bryn Mawr College
With reception following in Thomas Great Hall

Convenor: Bruce Levin
Moderator: Susan Levine
Panel Members:

Recommended readings:

On-line Forum

For open discussion both prior to and following the 8 October gathering

Further Information and Resources


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