Brain plasticity as a convergence of intrapsychic and intersubjective
Contemporary neuroscience has demonstrated the radical plasticity of the brain – its ability to change with experience at the synaptic, circuitry, and whole-brain levels – which has profound implications for neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and their interrelationship. With the concept of neural plasticity as an ongoing mobilization of neural form, neuroscience converges with psychoanalysis, which has built its theory and therapeutic practice on the flow of forms in the unconscious. We have attempted to integrate evidence and ideas from contemporary neurobiology, neurophysiology, psychopharmacology, and post-Freudian psychoanalytic theory, mainly based on Lacan, Bion, and Winnicott, and we suggest that the recovery of form, as a tool of investigation in these fields, may promote a neuroscientifically informed psychotherapy. We also suggest that plasticity captures the primacy of the dynamic, interactive surface of both intrapsychic and intersubjective processes and allows a conceptualization of the unconscious, facilitating a new understanding of psychic trauma. It is also compatible with the idea of the subject versus the ego of the unconscious, unconscious transformations, intersubjectivity, and freedom of will. We conclude that a new area of research has been identified at the interface between neuroscience and psychoanalytic theory, with promising epistemological, scientific, and therapeutic implications.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2012