Dmitry A. Uzlaner

Moscow School of Social, Economic Sciences; Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia


This article is devoted to a critical analysis of neuropsychoanalysis, an interdisciplinary field that emerged at the end of the 20th century and set itself the task of combining neuroscience with the psychoanalytic approach. The author draws attention to the conceptual gaps of this ambitious undertaking. The main gap is argued to be the in sufficient attention paid to the psychophysical problem (or mind-body problem), which ends up overlooking the fundamental difference between brain and psychic/mental reality, and attempts to derive the principles of functioning of the latter from the observations of brain activity. This, inturn, leads to further problems: the problem of translation and search for a correspondence between psychoanalytic theory based on a thick observation of the subject’s mental activity and the conceptual tools of neurosciences. What percentage of loss of meaning in this translation can be recognized as acceptable and what remains of psychoanalysis as a result of such a procedure? Another problem is related to the intersubjective symbolic nature of human desire, which cannot be deduced from observations of brain physiology. Finally, the author draws attention to the fact that neurosciences — and neuropsychoanalysisis no exception here — are already initially interwoven into social and cultural space, making them easy victims of contemporary— sometimes implicit — ideological attitudes. The article concludes with a call for greater reflexivity regarding neuropsychoanalysis on the part of both interested parties — psychoanalysts and neuroscientists.

Keywords: psychoanalysis, neuropsychoanalysis, Mark Solms, conscious Id,Sigmund Freud, neuroscience, dual-aspect monism.