The Biological Origins of Psychological Phenomena

  • David A. Freedman


The perception, not only of psychoanalysis but of all psychology as occupying a place both within and without the natural sciences is a perpetual source of frustration and fascination for those of us who come to the field as physicians. We share with Freud and other spiritual ancestors of similar background a sense of continuing challenge. How can we reconcile our neurologic and physiologic frame of reference with the clinically inescapable fact that in our day-to-day efforts we seem to be working on an entirely different plane? Our plight—and I use the word advisedly—as psychoanalysts involves dealing with extremely substantial—even quantifiable—physiological processes, while at the same time working in a medium which commits us to the use of explanatory devices which have to do only with relationships. We may detect evidence of what we consider rage, aggression, sensuality, and so forth. What we interpret, however, is the complexities of feelings as they are manifested in the context of human relations. No one has ever profited from being told that he suffers from an excessive aggressive drive. Our patients, however, regularly benefit from becoming aware of covert object-directed impulses and fantasies. Properly timed interpretations can be powerful in affecting not only perception of self and others but physiological processes as well.


Biological Origin Psychological Phenomenon Mental Energy Scientific Psychology Explanatory Device 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Freedman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Texas Medical CenterBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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