Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience: The Development of Neuropsychoanalysis

  • Heinz BoekerEmail author


In his Project for a Scientific Psychology, published in 1895, Freud tried to connect psychoanalysis with the neuroscience of his day. Finally, he was forced to give up this endeavour because of the lack of diagnostic possibilities and empirical facts. Freud’s paradigmatic change to psychoanalysis came about through his work on the mind-body problem and its central question of how the brain is able to generate subjective experience (consciousness) by means of existing anatomical structures and physiological functions.

This chapter focuses on the development of modern neuroscience with its diagnostic-technical repertoire and the possibility to gain insight into neuronal processing of mental processes such as emotional-cognitive interaction, which enabled to look for connections between what is known in both disciplines.

Lurija’s neurodynamic approach, Kaplan-Solms and Solms’ neuroanatomical methods, Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens, Panksepp’s Affective Neuroscience and the discovery of the so-called mirror neurons (Rizzolatti, Galese) are milestones of the development of neuropsychoanalysis.

Finally, the further development of a “first-person neuroscience” (Northoff) may contribute suitable strategies to answer core questions on the relation between subjective experience and neuronal integration in the brain.


Neuropsychoanalysis Unconscious Hysteria Conversion Clinical-anatomical correlation Affective neuroscience 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and PsychosomaticsPsychiatric Hospital, University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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