About this Research Topic
When Sigmund Freud laid the foundation of the psychoanalytical theory, he built the theoretical framework moving from the physiological knowledge of the time. In the “Project for a Scientific Psychology” (1895), he aimed at focusing on the interplay between biological and psychological factors, but he had to dismiss it due to lack of sufficient scientific evidence. Nonetheless, over time psychoanalysis and neuroscience went their separate ways, in an atmosphere of mutual disregard, if not open hostility. The main criticism moved by many neuroscientists to psychoanalytic theories is to be poorly evidence-based, while psychoanalysts have long ignored a scientific confront, denying the need for an empirical back-up outside the therapeutic setting.
Besides the researches supporting the effectiveness of the psychoanalytical theory, in recent years there has been a growing interest in the link between neuroscience and psychoanalysis, which could engage a productive and mutually enriching dialogue, and may enhance our understanding of mental functioning and psychiatric disorders. In the context of this new field defined Neuropsychoanalysis, a number of researchers focused on the psychodynamic consequences of brain lesions, on the structural and functional changes in the brain after a psychoanalytic treatment, and on experimental settings considering psychoanalytic conceptual frameworks. In a view of mutual enrichment, identifying neural correlates of specific psychodynamic mechanisms may help designing psychotherapy and other treatments for psychiatric disorders. On the other hand, studies on the mental representation of the Self, on the self/other distinction, on the unconscious systems and defense mechanisms, involving both healthy controls and patients, opened new insights about psychic functioning.
The aim of this Research Topic is to provide an updated overview of this new and interesting matter. In this respect, we will consider papers highlighting the strengths or the potential challenges and criticalities of the interface between these two fields, moving from either a neuroscientific or a psychoanalytic viewpoint. We will welcome articles that address brain mechanisms, psychodynamically-designed, but also theoretical papers considering the most recent neuroscientific advances on brain functioning in order to demonstrate, reconsider or widen psychoanalytic concepts.
Keywords: neuroscience, psychoanalysis, self, unconscious, dream
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