Notes for a dialogue between psychoanalysis and neuroscience

Int J Psychoanal. 2005 Oct;86(Pt 5):1405-23. doi: 10.1516/0jlh-g3n7-0yjw-76v7.


The author postulates that the dialogue between psychoanalysis and neuroscience is based on the assumption that both deal with virtual structures. They are two facets of the same noumenal reality, but with different phenomenal realities, and it is possible to use metapsychology as a lingua franca to develop communication between the two fields. In the second part of the paper, the author reflects on the results of recent neurophysiological research which seem to offer to psychoanalysis possibilities for finding an anatomical physiological correlate of some well-known psychic phenomena and mechanisms, such as imitation, introjection, identification, empathy, identity, mother child communication, learning, social communication and the analyst patient relationship. Particular neurons, called mirror neurons, have been located in the F5 area of baboons' brains. They are also present in man's brain within Broca's area. These neurons activate our motor system during both the performance of actions and the observation of actions performed by others giving rise to an automatic response, a sort of simulation or, rather, imitation, as the process is not intentional, but automatic and unaware, that is, unconscious.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / trends
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Learning
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurosciences / trends*
  • Psychoanalysis*
  • Psychophysiology
  • Social Behavior