Looking to the Brain for Psychotherapeutic Insights
Psychotherapy for Insights into the Brain
Department of Biology, Bryn Mawr College
The Mind and Self as Material Entities
Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Center
2 March 2005
Problems and prospects of starting with assumption that neurobiologists and psychotherapists are exploring/manipulating the same thing:
||The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside-
- Historical antipathies, mutual mistrust
- Possibility that they aren't
- Discomfort that one disappears
- Discomfort that mind/self are matter, subject to "slight and arrows of outrageous fortune"
- Helps make sense of observations (trauma, psychopharmacology, brain imaging)
- Can broaden psychotherapeutic repertoire to include BOTH historical events AND genetic influences
- Can broaden neurobiological repertoire to include .... story-telling, conflict?
Finding Common Cause in an Unconscious/Conscious Distinction
The unconscious as fundamental, rather than derivitive
Is that about oneself which, at any given time, one doesn't know ...
Distinction between neurobiological and psychodynamic unconscious necessary?
Finding Common Cause in Story-Telling?
"Story teller"/conscious as a distinct part of the nervous system (neocortex) having a distinctive kind of organization
- are not essential components of behavior
- can be causally significant for behavior, create things not otherwise there
- are not the only possible ones given inputs from unconscious
- are "coherent", involve relatively small numbers of variables, relatively simple cause/effect relationships
- typically involve "self"
- can generate meaning/purpose, or express its absence
Working Together to Make Sense of Conflict?
How make sense of "repression", "projection", "transference", of conflict ... and of therapeutic efficacy?
Conflict = differences between unconscious and story? evident in behavior, sometimes also in internal experience (Nash)
Can result from
- brain damage (sensory neglect)
- genetic factors (schizophrenia)
- life experiences (trauma)
Task of psychotherapist:
- to faciliate story telling by suggesting ways to incorporate unconscious signals
- to facilitate conscious/unconscious exchange by helping conscious cause experiences that alter unconscious
- to model effective and ongoing unconscious/conscious exchange
Post talk notes
- Story teller largely "unnecessary"
- Provides ability to conceive new things
- Creates problem of "conflict"
Relation of story telling to language, to child development
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Thursday, 03-Mar-2005 08:16:39 EST