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PERSONALITY PSY234

Lecture 3: Neuropsychoanalysis

A/Prof Simon Boag


email: simon.boag@mq.edu.au
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Readings (suggested)
• Solms, M & Turnbull, OH (2011). What is
neuropsychoanalysis? Neuropsychoanalysis,
13, 133-145
• Blass, RB, & Carmeli, Z (2007). The case against
Neuropsychoanalysis. Intl Jnl of
Psychoanalysis, 88, 19-40

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Readings (suggested)
Additional:
• Boag, S (2017). On dreams & motivation:
comparison of Freud’s & Hobson’s views.
Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1-13
• Colace, C (2014). Drug dreams. London: Karnac
• Colace, C & Boag, S (2015). Reply to Hobson.
Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51, 107-125
• Hobson, JA (2015). Reply to Colace & Boag.
Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51, 126-131
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Outline

1. Introduction to Neuropsychoanalysis
• Drives & Affective neuroscience
2. Freudian dream theory & neuroscience
• Dreams as wish-fulfilment
• Dreams & REM sleep
• Dreams & dopamine
3. Criticisms of neuropsychoanalysis

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1. Neuropsychoanalysis

• Background: Freud trains in neurology


• Project for a Scientific Psychology
(1895/1950)
• “We must recollect that our provisional ideas
in psychology will presumably some day be
based on an organic substructure” (Freud,
1914)
• Freud (1938/1940): pharmacological therapy
for psychological disorders?

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Neuropsychoanalysis

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Neuropsychoanalysis

• Neuroscientific study of Freudian theory


• Subjective data alone do not provide a solid
foundation for a science of psychoanalysis
• Evolutionary roots of mind
• Emphasises emotional life & subjectivity
• Emphasises motivational drives
• Animal/human research
• Resurrecting Freudian theory
• Neuroscience of dreams
• Clinical neuroscience
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“The concept of drive seems to be unfashionable
in psychoanalysis nowadays. It is unclear why this
happened, but it has had the unfortunate result
of divorcing psychoanalytic understanding of the
human mind from knowledge derived from all
other animals. We humans are not exempt from
the evolutionary biological forces that shaped
other creatures. It is therefore difficult to form an
accurate picture of how the human mental
apparatus really works without using a concept at
least something like Freud’s definition of
“drive”...” (Solms & Turnbull, 2002, p. 117)
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Affective neuroscience

• Homeostatic drives (hunger, sex)


• Primary emotional systems
• Panksepp (1998, 2015): 7 subcortical ‘basic
emotional command systems’
• Evidence: within/cross-species neural circuitry
• SEEKING (appetitive foraging): mesolimbic-
mesocortical dopamine pathway
• LUST, FEAR (freezing & flight), RAGE, CARE,
PANIC/GRIEF (separation distress), & PLAY

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SEEKING system

Expecting/Wanting system involved in:


(i) goal-directed activities
(ii) generating anticipation & excitement
(iii) ‘coupling’ (linking drives to objects)
(iv) ‘enacting’ via consummatory actions (Wright
& Panksepp, 2012)

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“The SEEKING system, under the guidance of
various regulatory imbalances, external
incentive cues, & past learning, helps take
thirsty animals to water, cold animals to
warmth, hungry animals to food, & sexually
aroused animals towards opportunities for
orgasmic gratification”
(Panksepp, 1998, p. 167)

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2. The interpretation of dreams
(Freud, 1900)
• “Royal road to the Unconscious” (Freud, 1900)
• Drives & motivational states (desires)
• Desires, waking fantasy & sleeping fantasy
• Undisguised wish-fulfilment
• Regression to primary process

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“… there is a dream that I can produce in myself
as often as I like—experimentally, as it were. If I
eat anchovies or olives or any other highly
salted food in the evening, I develop thirst
during the night which wakes me up. But my
waking is preceded by a dream; & this always
has the same content, namely, that I am
drinking. I dream I am swallowing down water in
great gulps, & it has the delicious taste that
nothing can equal but a cool drink when one is
parched with thirst”
(Freud, 1900, p. 123)
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Freud’s analysis:
biological frustration & dreams

• Salty foods cause dehydration


• Dehydration causes a ‘desire’ (or wish) to drink
during sleep
• Dream of drinking is an imaginary
(hallucinatory) satisfaction
• Minnesota Starvation Experiment (1944-5):
“Hunger made the men obsessed with food.
They would dream & fantasize about food, read
& talk about food …”
• ‘Guardians of sleep’
• http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/hunger.aspx
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“The thirst gives rise to a wish to drink, & the
dream shows me that wish fulfilled. In doing so
it is performing a function—which it was easy to
divine. I am a good sleeper & not accustomed to
being woken by any physical need. If I can
succeed in appeasing my thirst by dreaming that
I am drinking, then I need not wake up in order
to quench it. This, then is a dream of
convenience. Dreaming has taken the place of
action, as it so often does elsewhere in life”
(Freud, 1900, pp. 123-4)
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Nightmares?

• Anxiety dreams, nightmares


• Psychical Conflict: “… the dreamer fighting
against his own wishes is to be compared with
a summation of two separate, though in some
way intimately connected, people…” (Freud,
1916-17, p. 218)
• Repression & censorship (see Boag, 2006)
• Boag, S. (2006). Freudian dream theory, dream bizarreness, & the
disguise-censor controversy. Neuro-psychoanalysis, 8, 5-17
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Dreams & REM sleep

• Aserinsky & Kleitman (1953):


• Rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep
• 4 stages of non-REM sleep
• REM sleep occurs in 90-100 minute cycles
• REM associated with brainstem activation
(pons)
• Paradoxical sleep: highly active brain (as if
awake)

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Dreams & REM sleep

• 70-95% of normal Subjects report dreaming if


awoken during REM sleep
• NREM sleep: 5-10% dreaming reports
• NREM sleep dreams are often impoverished
(less vivid/non-visual) compared to REM
dreams
• Mammals & REM states
• REM in utero

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Dreams & REM sleep

• Hobson & McCarley (1977)


• Activation-synthesis model of dreams/AIM
model
• Dreams occur due to chaotic brain stem activity
associated with REM sleep
• “Motivationally neutral”
• Dreams are meaningless: Random images &
illogical thinking
• Dream-bizarreness: “loss of organising capacity”
(Hobson & Pace-Schott, 1999, p. 211)
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REM=Dreams: Problems

• Random images & coherent dream plots?


• Dreaming can occur independently of REM
sleep:
i) Vivid dreaming can occur prior to REM sleep
(Solms, 1999, 2000)
ii) Brain-stem lesions which eliminate REM sleep
do not eliminate dreaming (Bischof & Bassetti,
2004; Solms, 2000)
• Loss of dreaming associated with other parts
of the brain
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Dreams & psychosis

• 1940-1975: Schizophrenia & leucotomies


(prefrontal lobotomy) to reduce psychotic
symptoms
• Surgical damage to dopamine pathway
• Result: Cessation of dreaming & impoverished
fantasy & curiosity in waking life

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Neuropsychoanalysis of dreams

• Mesolimbic-mesocortical dopamine pathway


important for dreaming (Solms, 2000)
• Damage to dopamine pathway: REM
unaffected, but dreaming ceases
• Anti-psychotics which block dopamine (DA)
inhibit dreaming
• Chemical DA stimulation: increase in
frequency & vividness of dreams

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The role of dopamine (DA)

• Dopamine: motivation & reward


• SEEKING & wanting (desire)
• Dopamine pathway motivates “the subject to
seek out & engage with external objects which
can satisfy inner biological needs” (Solms,
2000, p. 4)
• Damage to dopamine pathway associated with
reduction of motivated behaviour
• Dreams & dopamine suggest dreams are
linked with desires (‘wishes’)
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Drug dreams & Freudian theory
• Biological drive frustration paradigm (Colace,
2014; Colace & Boag, 2015)
• Drugs of addiction hijack the brain’s natural
reward system
• Test of Freudian theory: drug addicts should
dream of taking drugs when undergoing
withdrawal
• Drug dreams & Nicotine, Alcohol, Cocaine,
Amphetamines, Heroin (Colace, 2004, 2014)

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Shifts in theory

• Then: McCarley & Hobson (1977): Dreams are


“motivationally neutral” (p. 1219):
meaningless, random images

• & now: “…. the unfettered play of dopamine in


REM sleep is in keeping with the assumption
that dreaming is “motivated” & that important
motivational goals may be revealed in
dreams” (Hobson, 2014, p. 41)

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Does Hobson accept Freudian
dream theory?
• Hobson (2013): Freudian dream theory is
“obsolete & entirely replaceable” (p. 144)

• Hobson (2015): “Of course, some dreams


evince desires & hopes… I regard the wish-
fulfilment hypothesis as unoriginal, trivial, &
incomplete” (p. 127)

• Many note that Hobson’s dream theory is


converging with Freud’s (eg. Boag, 2017;
Hopkins, 2016; Solms, 2013)
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3. Criticisms of
neuropsychoanalysis
• Reductionistic (Blass & Carmeli, 2007)
• Cannot address ‘meaning’ & subjectivity:
• “… just as we cannot determine the meanings
of van Gogh’s paintings through chemical
analysis, neuroscientific models will not
replace psychological explanations” (Talvitie
& Ihanus, 2011, p. 1587)
• Clinically irrelevant (Barratt, 2015; Pulver,
2003)
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Summary

• Neuropsychoanalysis is the neuroscientific study


of psychoanalytic theory
• Affective neuroscience proposes 7 sub-cortical
emotion systems
• The role of dopamine pathways in dreaming may
offer some support for Freud’s dream theory
• Critics of neuropsychoanalysis argue that
neuropsychoanalysis cannot address subjectivity
& meaning

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