This workshop event examines the historical relationship between psychoanalysis and brain science. Rather than considering that relationship as a narrative of Freud’s transition from neurology to metapsychology — a historical approach that can often be oriented towards fulfilling the demands of contemporary research — the paper instead situates Freud’s neuropathology and metapsychology within a broader set of anxieties and problems faced by both neurologists and psychiatrists in nineteenth-century brain and behavioral medicine. Especially throughout the mid-to-late part of the century, clinicians were attempting to make sense of a variety of unsettling disorders (e.g., mental automatism, double consciousness, multiple personality, simulation disorders), which were implicitly introducing new medico-legal and even epistemological challenges for classical conceptions of personal identity. By placing Freud’s neuropathology and metapsychology within the various pathological destabilizations of personhood materializing within nineteenth-century neurology and behavioral medicine, the paper asks what stakes such a historical reconsideration may have for the present, that is, for research being current conducted at the interface of psychoanalysis and neuroscience.
Response by Andrew Gerber, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University.
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