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J Physiol Paris. 2010 Dec;104(6):303-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2010.09.005. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Linking neuroscience and psychoanalysis from a developmental perspective: why and how?

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Necker Hospital, Child Neurology Unit, Child Psychiatry Unit, Paris, France.


This paper aims to develop the rational to support why and how we should link neuroscience and psychoanalysis. Many of these points are derived from child development and child psychiatry. Neuroscience investigates developmental questions in a different way than psychoanalysis, while psychoanalysis itself has shifted towards new developmental paradigms. The rapprochement between neuroscience and psychoanalysis allows a new understanding of some concepts, including embodiment of mind, consciousness and attachment. The "double reading" paradigm allows a better understanding of symptomatic configurations. Linking neuroscience and psychoanalysis may improve treatments and result in new experimental neuroscientific paradigms involving changing the research object, changing the state of the research object, and investigating the structural changes in the brain following psychotherapy. The last aim is to create an epistemology of the articulation between the theoretical frameworks through phenomenology, "complementarism" and neuropsychoanalysis. We argue that it is necessary for clinicians to be aware of the advancements in each field. This is not only an epistemological question; we assume that new findings in neuroscience will change the way psychoanalysts think and approach treatment of their patients. We hope the present research will contribute to change the way that neuroscientists think and will provide new options to their set of experimental paradigms.

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