The tip of the iceberg

What's next?

As we come to the end of this course, I hope that you have a better sense of what a mind is, how it works and what it is for. I’ve aimed to facilitate this by taking what Humanities disciplines like philosophy and psychoanalysis have to offer and aligning it with insights from the neurosciences, as I believe this is how we can best understand what a mind is. I call this interdisciplinary approach neuropsychoanalysis. It’s about trying to understand how the business of being a person - the self - relates to what we know about the physiology and anatomy of the brain.

While psychoanalysis offers tremendous insights into unconscious thoughts, feelings and emotions, neuroscience offers us an opportunity to test and develop some of these ideas scientifically. A neuropsychoanalytic approach allows for a combination of subjective reporting and objective measurement. If you are a practitioner in any discipline involving the mind, I hope I have convinced you that this approach holds great scope for understanding and treating mental disorders.

If you are interested in being part of this work or want to know more, please visit the website of The Neuropsychoanalysis Association (NPSA), which promotes inter-disciplinary work between the fields of psychoanalysis and neuroscience.

The topic of this year’s Neuropsychoanalysis Congress, hosted by the NPSA, is ‘Other Minds’:

Philosophers question whether it is possible to know other minds. The discovery of mirror neurons suggests otherwise. The phenomenon of empathy and theory-of-mind have also received intensive neuroscientific attention. What are the implications of this research for psychoanalysis? ‘Other Minds’ also raises the vexed question of non-human minds … and even of non-biological minds. What distinguishes animal from human minds, and natural from artificial ones?

These and other fascinating issues, and the links between them, will be the focus of the 17th International Neuropsychoanalysis Congress which takes place in Chicago from 7-10 July 2016. The link provides more information on the academics that will be presenting at the congress, as well as registration details.

I have put together the following reading list that I recommend for those who would like to look further at some of the concepts and material we have covered during this course:

  • To assist in understanding neuroscienctific concepts and articles:

Solms, M., & Turnbull, O. (2002). THE BRAIN AND THE INNER WORLD. Other Press (NY): Karnac (London)

  • Introductory text to neuroscience, neuroanatomy and related fields:

Blumenfeld, H. (2010). NEUROANATOMY THROUGH CLINICAL CASES. U.S.A.: Sinauer Associates Inc.

  • To assist in understanding how neuroscience and psychoanalysis interact:

Solms, M. (2015). THE FEELING BRAIN. Karnac (London)

  • Teaching neuroscience to psychoanalysts:

Panksepp, J., & Biven, L. (2012). THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF MIND. Norton (NY)

  • Representative references on brainstem basis of consciousness and affective consciousness, which in turn cite further experimental literature:

Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective Neuroscience. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shewmon, D., Holmse, D., & Byrne, P. (1999). Consciousness in congenitally decorticate children: Developmental vegetative state as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 41: 364–374.

Parvizi, J. & Damasio, A.R. (2003). Neuroanatomical correlates of brainstem coma. Brain, 126, 1524–1536.

Merker, B. (2007). Consciousness without a cerebral cortex: A challenge for neuroscience and medicine. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 30: 63–134.

Damasio, A. (2010). Self Comes to Mind. New York: Pantheon.

Damasio, A., Damasio, H. & Tranel, D. (2012). Persistence of feeling and sentience after bilateral damage of the insula. Cerebral Cortex, 23 (4): 833–846.

Solms, M. & Panksepp, J. (2012). The id knows more than the ego admits: Neuropsychoanalytic and primal consciousness perspectives on the interface between affective and cognitive neuroscience. Brain Sciences, 2, 147-175.

  • Article on consciousness:

Solms, M. (2014). A neuropsychoanalytical approach to the hard problem of consciousness. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience, 13 (2), 173-185.

Further courses and reading material can be found on The Neuropsychoanalysis Association website under the VIDEOS and EDUCATION tabs.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

What Is a Mind?

University of Cape Town