About this Research Topic

Manuscript Submission Deadline 31 May 2022
Manuscript Extension Submission Deadline 31 August 2022

The term psychodynamics was introduced in 1874 by Ernst von Brücke, the renowned German physiologist and Freud’s research supervisor at the University of Vienna. Together with Helmholtz and others, Brücke proposed that all living organisms are energy systems, regulated by the same thermodynamic laws. Since ...

The term psychodynamics was introduced in 1874 by Ernst von Brücke, the renowned German physiologist and Freud’s research supervisor at the University of Vienna. Together with Helmholtz and others, Brücke proposed that all living organisms are energy systems, regulated by the same thermodynamic laws. Since Freud was a student of Brücke and a deep admirer of Helmholtz, he adopted this view, thus laying the foundations for his metapsychology.

The discovery of the Default Network and the birth of Neuropsychoanalysis, twenty years ago, facilitated a deep return to this classical conception of the brain as an energy system, and therefore a return to Freud's early ambition to establish psychology as natural science. Our current investigations of neural networks and applications of the Free Energy Principle are equally ‘psychodynamic’ in Brücke’s original sense of the term.

Some branches of contemporary neuroscience still eschew subjective data and therefore exclude the brain’s most remarkable property – its selfhood – from the field, and many neuroscientists remain skeptical about psychoanalytic methods, theories, and concepts. Likewise, some psychoanalysts continue to reject any consideration of the structure and functions of the brain from their conceptualization of the mind in health and disease. Both cases seem to perpetuate a Cartesian attitude in which the mind is linked to the brain in some equivocal relationship and an attitude that detaches the brain from the body -- rather than considering it an integral part of the complex and dynamic living organism as a whole.

Evidence from psychodynamic neuroscience suggests that Freudian constructs can now be realized neurobiologically. For example, Freud’s notion of primary and secondary processes is consistent with the hierarchical organization of self-organized cortical and subcortical systems, and his description of the ego is consistent with the functions of the Default Network and its reciprocal exchanges with subordinate brain systems. Moreover, thanks to new methods of measuring brain entropy, we can now operationalize the primary and secondary processes and therefore test predictions arising from these Freudian constructs.

All of this makes it possible to deepen the dialogue between neuroscience and psychoanalysis, in ways and to a degree that was unimaginable in Freud's time, and even compared to twenty years ago. Many psychoanalytical hypotheses are now well integrated with contemporary neuroscience. Other Freudian and post-Freudian hypotheses about the structure and function of the mind seem ripe for the detailed and sophisticated development that modern psychodynamic neuroscience can offer.

This Research Topic aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the latest advances in psychodynamic neuroscience and neuropsychoanalysis. Potential authors are invited to submit papers (original research, case reports, review articles, commentaries) that deploy, review, compare or develop the methods and theories of psychodynamic neuroscience and neuropsychoanalysis.

Potential authors include researchers, psychoanalysts, and neuroscientists.

Keywords: psychodynamic neuroscience, neuropsychoanalysis, neural networks, default network, free energy principle, metapsychology, entropy


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