Neuropsychoanalysis: what it is and how it can change your life

(ORDO NEWS) — At first, it may seem that neuroscience is an incredibly fascinating science. Just imagine, you are studying the brain – one of the most important organs of the human body, thanks to which we, in principle, can study something.

However, neuroscientists themselves often point out that their job is to analyze objectified data, which can be boring. Therefore, the South African psychoanalyst Mark Solms decided to create a new theory of consciousness in line with this direction. We will tell about it.

One of the basic tools of neuroscientists is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – a research method that allows you to measure the neural activity of the brain or spinal cord.

However, fMRI images most often look rather boring, since they, of course, show what is happening in the brain, but they cannot convey what a living being feels at the same time. And even neuroscientists themselves are not particularly enthusiastic about this approach.

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In this regard, the South African psychoanalyst Mark Solms had the idea of ​​creating a new theory of consciousness that would combine the neurobiology and psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud.

In his book The Hidden Source, the scientist tries to combine these areas, proposing to introduce a new approach – neuropsychoanalysis.

What is neuropsychoanalysis

Neuropsychoanalysis explores the neurobiological basis of human behavior and experience by relating brain activity to a psychoanalytic model of consciousness. That is, according to Freud, anything can be subjected to psychoanalysis: whether it be works of art, the neuroses of your best friend, or the architecture of skyscrapers.

And this kind of universality is the weak point of psychoanalysis as a science. And the main task of neuropsychoanalysis is precisely to make classical psychoanalysis more “mundane”, more natural-science.

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By the way, Freud himself declared his desire to turn psychoanalysis into a natural science. In his Project for a Scientific Psychology (which he wrote early in his career in 1895 but never published during his lifetime), the researcher sought to explain consciousness mechanistically.

But apparently, the founder of psychoanalysis at that moment was then in a crisis due to imperfect scientific tools, which corny did not correspond to his ambitions. Therefore, he had no choice but to take a small step towards his dream and develop the concept of conventional psychoanalysis.

But Mark Solmes set out to do what Freud had failed to do: create a scientific version of psychoanalysis called neuropsychoanalysis.

What is the problem with Solmes’ neuropsychoanalysis

Now neuropsychoanalysis is an interdisciplinary direction that has its own scientific journal, as well as an annual conference. However, many specialists still refuse to recognize it as a separate discipline.

But this is not the main pain. More disturbing are the main postulates of Solmes’s theory, or rather, their formulations, which are incredibly complex – this is literally the jungle through which you have to wade through as you study neuropsychoanalysis. For example:

“Ultimately, perception is the calculation of statistical inferences about the probability distribution of neural activity in homeostats”

And there are a lot of similar statements in Mark Solms’ book “The Hidden Source”. Specifically, this quote, given above, according to the author’s expectations, should have made it clear to the “ordinary reader” for whom he writes the following thought: the homeostat is you, and you, like any living organism, strive to maintain a basic level of satisfaction needs in a large hostile world. Due to the complexity of his conclusions and formulations, Solms fails to breathe life into neuroscience.

What is Mark Solms talking about?

According to the psychoanalyst, any being endowed with consciousness is capable of being aware of its internal needs and in some way interacting with the environment in order to satisfy them.

However, Solms is more interested in the sources of this self-consciousness: how? where does consciousness come from? what does it mean to keep alive? And he finds answers to his questions in human emotions.

Let’s try to explain this difficult approach, as they say, on the fingers. Imagine that your back hurts from sitting at your desk for a long time. What makes you look for a way to ease the pain?

First of all, the negative emotions that it causes – self-pity, anger at the authorities, because of which it is not possible to do at least ten minutes of exercise in the middle of the day, or even contempt for yourself that you do not value your body so much and allow pain to occur. .

Thus, Solms is trying to reduce consciousness from the level of thinking to the level of emotions, and ultimately – to raise emotions to the level of thinking, that is, to make them an instrument of thinking.

The research thought of a scientist is very complex, but if we simplify it as much as possible, we can draw such a rather rough conclusion: it is impossible to think without emotions. They are essential for homeostasis. In other words, there is nothing subjective—or, as Solms says, “fictitious” about emotions.

In the final chapter of The Hidden Source, Solmes explains how his theory of mind can be used to create artificial intelligence.

Given the right parameters, the tiny dots on the screen should spontaneously arrange themselves so that a few extra manipulations can produce something akin to consciousness. This is an elegant, testable hypothesis that is sure to interest the next generation of neuroscientists.

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