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Using Colors in a Novel Association Technique to Explore the Mental Representations of Corporate Leaders



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Socioanalysis 17
Using Colors in a Novel Association
Technique to Explore the Mental
Representations of Corporate Leaders
Socioanalysis 17 (12-26)
Key Words: Colors; free association; leaders; emotional meaning
Free association is the bedrock of psychoanalyt ic and socioanalytic methodology. Whereas associations
are understood in the psychoanalytic and socioanalytic literature in terms of their subject ive content
and mean ing for the subject, this article attempts to understand associat ive processes in alignment wit h
current assumptions in neuropsycholog y. In this way we hope to link the work done in these t wo elds
and to nd ways in which associative methods might be used to understand cognit ive and emotional
meanings for managers.
The explorations presented in this publ ication, offer a method to unveil unconscious connections
between color-designated mental representations of work-related terms, presented to corporate
managers. We used a directed association techique using colors to analyse the unconscious patterns
of managers. The managers paired each term with associated colours. In a series of interviews, we
discovered a similar ity in the subjective contextualizat ion of terms with the designated associative
color or color group. Graphs of the results were then presented and discussed w ith the managers and
the matching interpretations of the results were conrmed. Grouped ndings of a cluster analysis
showed further similarities between patterns of associat ive terms. This method therefore, presents
curious ndings that suggest further exploration of both single and group approaches to unveil possible
unconscious patterns of a specied target group.
The use of free association in a non-clinical context
Free association is an established approach to unveil unconscious mental representations
of objects and their relations (Freud, 1913; Kubie, 1952; Macmillan, 2001). Pioneering this
eld, the Jungian word association technique ( Jung, 1910) rst gave rise to this enormously
complex and interpretative method of analyzing the unconscious, and its genius idea has long
been standardized variously through the discoveries of proceeding analysts (Secord, 1953).
However, in a non-clinical context, the collecting of information requires different approaches.
For instance, if you want to apply the association technique to analyze unconscious contents
of corporate managers, their companies or their industries, then chances of nding a client,
who will engage on the couch for several years, are fairly low. For such demands, we feel that
association techniques can benet from complementary approaches, in order to provide new
insights in non-clinical settings.
Using Colours in a Novel Association Technique
If we picture the mental representation of an individual as a cartographic map, free
association is the method, where we start at one location on the map and explore its
surroundings, to nd out which other areas are closely located or intensively connected. By
doing this, part of the map becomes visible. From a medical perspective a necessary healing step
should include the individual’s discovery of the map by himself (Bohart, 2000). This discovery
would in turn have to be embedded in the individual’s autonomous exploration of his inner
dwellings (Ryan & Deci, 2008). This exploration happens freely and can take several years,
twisting and turning unexpectedly in its process toward a healthier development. This naturally
requires time and patience. In a business context healing cannot always be regarded as the
highest demand, regardless of its necessity. Hereby, our search is aimed at creating a method to
unveil the map and its associative areas, relevant to the expectations of the client in the given
analysis. To meet the requirements of process efciency in business, association perhaps needs
to be guided and restricted to few dimensions (Arbuthnott, Arbuthnott, & Rossiter, 2001;
Curtis, 2012; Long, 2013).
Guided and restricted association
Guided imagery is already more restrictive than free association (Suler, 1989). The change
from the instruction “Speak about whatever comes to your mind!” to “Imagine the problem as a landscape, a
creature from a fairy tale or an animal! ” gives more direction to the associations. Ideally, this should
shield out all thoughts about past and future irrelevancies, and the client will be given a chance
to explore a topic in the “here-and-now” (Schank, 1982).
For analysis in larger companies or industries, the size of the organization increases the
amount and variety of information collected from different interview partners. To avoid
this unwieldy complexity, a more optimized association technique is needed. If we restrict
association to only one dimension, the results become highly standardized and can be
processed, interpreted, and even compiled, on an organizational level (Bachrach, Galatzer-
Levy, & Skolnikoff, 1991; Cabaniss, 2008). This allows for a comparison of associations and can
provide insight into the organizational thinking of a company (Diamond, 1988). To interpret
our data, we used seriation and cluster analysis (Hahsler, Hornik, & Buchta, 2008) as shown
in the example below (Fig. 3). As it turns out, using words and associating these with colors,
proved to be a very suitable connement.
Socioanalysis 17
Discovery of the method and setting
The discoveries described in this article are owed to coincidence during a large explorative
research project by Thomas Kretschmar and Mind Institute SE. In this study various methods
of guided imagery were tested on corporate leaders in Berlin. The study asked whether or not
unveiling the unconscious subjective image of the company might have a masking effect on
the corporate culture. In this project, which took place 2012 and 2013, thirty-two top leaders
from Berlin (CEO or managing director) agreed to participate in visits of one-to-one one-hour
sessions, held at their workplace. Preliminary to the sessions, we announced a psychological
question and answer session (Q&A) with a lot of unusual questions, illogical or even absurd in
content, which were designed to prepare the person in question for the unexpected exercises
that followed. Although the methods were not explained beforehand, the managers were open
and curious and agreed to the experiment. The method and results were then revealed in a
presentation held at the end of the project.
In one of the warm up exercises, the consultants asked each manager to give each of the
twenty successively presented words a color that rst came to their mind. The words presented
were: customers, market, vacation, suppliers, victory, innovation, job, exhaustion,
services, energy, offense, competitor, employee, sport, products, defense,
self-fulllment, investor, work council, defeat.
A number of interviews proved this exercise to be rather informative. We discovered that
the terms that had been repeatedly paired with the same color could be grouped together.
Within each color group, our analysis suggested that there was a subjective connection between
the associated words. The subjective connections between words within a colour group were
apparently stronger and more meaningfully connected within the group, than with words from
different color groups. In many cases, the color choice reected the thoughts about the grouped
terms contextually. In other words: if the manager assigns the word exhaustion to his color
brown, we would nd out, that other terms labeled brown, would either directly or indirectly be
experienced as exhausting to the manager.
Individual Examples
The results of the color exercises of each manager were put into graphs as shown in Figures
1 and 2 below. These graphs were presented to the managers during a second meeting and their
interpretations were discussed together with the interviewer, to see if the results threw light on
their current work situation. Altogether, nineteen managers agreed to a second meeting. When
viewing the graphs, we found several new insights. We repeatedly experienced a consensus with
the managers, about the accuracy of the interpretations.
Using Colours in a Novel Association Technique
Fig. 1: CEO of a very successful market ing agency
In gure 1, a graph of a CEO of a successful marketing agency is shown. The main goal of
this manager was to provide innovative services to his market. He was also proud of the fact,
that there was no work council in his company (which is very unusual for larger companies in
Germany). In the interview, he regarded sporting innovation by his employees as his “main
competitive advantage”. Defeat and defense were not connected to any corporate term “the company
has more customers than their services can supply”. Suppliers were exhausting “because their market
was tough” and “suppliers, which can provide good service quality in time, are not always easy to nd”. The
manager derives his energy from victory in a pitch with other marketing agencies” and from his
vacations. The company is wealthy enough to work without external investors and has no “real
. Therefore, these two terms stood apart from the other terms that were more relevant
to the business.
Socioanalysis 17
Fig. 2: Managi ng Director of a struggling facility management service
In gure 2., the graph of a managing director of a struggling facility management service
is shown. The manager connected many success factors of the industry to defeat: customers,
employees, market and the job itself. All energy was put into defenses against the outside
world”. Offensive strategies were needed against competitors and work council, while victory
is not connected to any corporate term. The manager found self-fulllment during vacation
and innovation in her “hobbies”.
General ndings in the group
Following these thoughts, we conducted a further exploration of the mental contents of the
interviewed group. To combine our individual ndings, we used a seriation and cluster analysis
(Hahsler et al., 2008).
If two terms were labeled with the same color by more than 25% of the managers during
the exercise (meaning at least 8 out of 32 managers had paired the same term with the same
color), we would include this into our analysis. In this case, a mark is put into the matrix at every
signicantly connected term (see Fig. 3, left). In the calculations, the rows and columns of the
matrix are ordered using an algorithm that eventually arranges the corresponding marks so that
they are closest to the diagonal (see Fig. 3, right). Through this sorting a cluster of words that
appear to share a meaningful relationship, will become visible.
Using Colours in a Novel Association Technique
Fig. 3: Terms, which appeared in the same color group in more than 25% of the interviews
The results of this cluster analysis were presented and discussed with the managers in a
group meeting at the end of the project. In the following, the major results of the discussion will
be presented and discussed in broad terms.
The results show that exhaustion and defeat pair up to form a group but do not relate to
any of the other terms. This seems explanatory, if one assumes that these words are not usually
included in the business vocabulary of successful, mentally healthy managers. The term vacation
stands on its own, which aligns with the idea of vacation as a separation from the work-life.
What appeared as somewhat surprising is the isolation of the term competitor. This could
indicate that managers in Berlin are not immensely concerned with competing businesses, but
are more concerned with their own products, supplies and the demands of their customers.
Unexpectedly, the term self-fulllment does not stand in any relation to the work-related
terms. This could be a sign of some of the managers’ grim acceptance of re-prioritizing their
own self-fulllment as second to their jobs. Working experience has diminished the once
aspired idealistic ambition of self-fulllment.
In the center of the cluster analysis, we found the product of the company. This product
is associated to the terms v ictor y, at tack and energy. It seems like it is of central importance
to the managers, to provide a winning product. The term defense is placed in close relation
to suppliers and investors. Here it seems the managers relate undesired dependence to the
investors and feel as if they need to react defensively. Employees are found closely related to
workplace (which is self explanatory) but also to customers, with whom they seemingly try
to identify. An interesting nding shows a connection with workplaces and investors; Berlin
is one of the weaker economic regions, therefore workplaces are also largely dependent on the
availability of investors.
Socioanalysis 17
In the section of the matrix further above, there are smaller clusters, wherein the terms
sport, innovation, market and victory are grouped together. Analogous to the product
orientation, stands product innovation; both these terms would likely be described with
energetic words. In Berlin’s economy, the market is inspired by a strong entrepreneurial sector
(“Berlin is Europe’s new tech startup hub”, Smith, 2011 webpage). It can be supposed that this
drives the business culture to deliver new products in order to advance in the market.
On the far edge of the matrix, we nd the terms service and work council. Although
relevant in business, the importance of service is seemingly secondary (“Germany’s renowned
service wasteland”, Barsalou, 2013 webpage). Last and least, the work council appears to occupy
the outermost position of relevance to the manager’s thoughts.
As can be seen in this example, it was possible to derive an unconscious mind map of a
specied target group, using a specialized association technique in combination with a cluster
Our approach in the light of neuroscience and psychoanalysis
Although there is symbolism in color (Evarts, 1919), there is no necessary representation
between the abstract work-related terms and the spontaneously designated colors. Collecting the
common associations of the symbolical meaning of colors had not initially been our interest. We
merely assume that after delivering the term and activating its representation in the manager’s
cortex, the color, which is most strongly connected to the specic term, will gain prominence.
Other terms, belonging to the same subjective context group, will activate the same color. When
considering the implementations of these formations, the graphs could be viewed as the rst
attempt to produce representations of the cortical network structure of internal, work-related
representations – on a very high level of abstraction, but nonetheless connected.
In light of the following terms, it seems obligatory to distinguish internal representations
into two components with subjective and objective aspects. The subjective aspect is given by
the individual’s emotional recollection, ’the objective aspect by the neural patterns generated by
the sensory–motor interactions with the environment’ (Leuzinger-Bohleber & Pfeifer, 2006,
p.71). This suggests that mental representations are dependent on the construction of emotional
memories and at the same time it can be seen as a constructive, creative process of approaching
what actually happened (Edelman, 1989). Both subjective and objective representations are to
be considered when interpreting associations.
Therefore, memories can be described as ’the aggregate of personal experiences, events,
objects, names, actions, and knowledge of all sorts that we commonly understand as memories,
Using Colours in a Novel Association Technique
whether or not they are accessible to the consciousness’ (Lehmann & Koukkou, 2006 p. 223).
Memories are predecessors to all inner representations. Studies have shown, that recall of past
events and remembering subjective concepts (i.e. representations) both show brain activity in
similar regions (Fink et al., 1996). They are both linked to functions of the neocortex, more
precisely to the temporal lobe, which is the innermost layer of the cortex and is considered
to process and align our understanding of semantics, speech, vision, imagining and long-
term memory (Addis, Pan, Vu, Laiser, & Schacter, 2009; Addis & Schacter, 2008; Addis,
Wong, & Schacter, 2007). It is also the site of our declarative and episodic memory (Cahill,
Babinsky, Markowitsch, & McGaugh, 1995). The neocortex is at times referred to as the cortex
of association (Fuster, 1997). In that sense, it can be argued that associations consist of an
ensemble of interconnected representations, steadily forming networks through memories. In
relation, this implies that all memory is associative. According to Fuster (1995, p. 2), ”association
can be understood as an attribute of all memories, at the root of their genesis as well as
their evocation”. We assume that in the case of our example, business terms and emotional
associations become connected and form a common representation. An example from our
ndings would be the strong connection of the two words market and victory. The meaningful
connection between words has also been established in other ndings, such as in the studies
from Kutas & Federmeier (2000), where electrophysiology reveals semantic memory use in
language comprehension.
As far as linking the two processes of memory and emotion, several studies have shown
a correlation between activity in the amygdala at encoding and later memory for emotional
stimuli (Hamann et al., 1999). The Amygdala is found in the limbic system of the brain and is
responsible for the processing of emotional reactions and the memory of emotional responses
(Cahil & McGaugh, 1998). The hippocampus, as part of the limbic system, regulates emotions
consciously and unconsciously, and is located beneath the medial temporal lobe (Ross, Haman,
& Buck, 1994). Most research examining amygdala–hippocampal interactions has focused
on how the amygdala can inuence hippocampal-dependent, episodic memory for emotional
stimuli (Phelps, 2004). Therefore it comes as no surprise there is abundant evidence available
stating that memories for emotional events have a persistence and vividness that other
memories (linked to less or no emotional associations) seem to lack (Christianson, 1992). Not
only do we have a network of semantically related terms but in addition, the emotions that these
words contain also seem to link the word groups to each other. The overall question remains,
if there are such words that are not emotionally colored. It would seem obvious to assume that
terms such as innovation, employees and market would always have an individual emotional
meaning to someone in a managing position.
Socioanalysis 17
In summary, an explanation for the described ndings of this study could be that
meaningful terms are represented as objects of neural patterns in the brain (LeDoux, 1995).
Knowing that neurons, which re together, wire together (Hebb, 1949), we can assume that
over time, objects belonging to a mental context are strongly linked – as studies have already
shown that memories formed in the same context become linked (Manning, Plys, Baltuch,
Litt, & Kahana, 2011). This all seems self-explanatory when considering the understanding of
existing network responses between temporal lobe and limbic activity (Hariri, Bookheimer,
& Mazziotta, 2000), yet we believe that this examination could add ideas to previous
studies showing links between neuroscientic, psychoanalytic and socioanalytic theories on
Long & Harney (2013) have described this idea extensively in their chapter in the
book Socioanalytic methods: Discovering the hidden in organizations and social systems: “Here then is
a formulation of the unconscious as a mental network of thoughts, signs and symbols or
signiers, able to give rise to many feelings, impulses and images. The network is between
people, but yet within each of them” (Long & Harney, 2013, p.30). In our results, we can see
this unconscious formation of networks within and between individuals; words such as victor y,
defeat, exhaustion, energy, self-fulllment or defense are semantically loaded, personal and
symbolical to each individual - especially to the manager in his or her societal role. One would
expect these words to activate an associative unconscious (Long & Harney, 2013), whereby
memory networks form in the unconscious, reviving emotional experiences that have similar
meanings to the manager.
In general, words and colors play a central role in the psychoanalytic process, including
their functions and their capacity to carry multiple levels of meaning and symbolic relationships
(Hall, 1951, p 46; Woltman, 1965, p. 105). First thoughts on the matter can be found in early
psychoanalytic literature, although the directions lead toward a different path. In 1900, Freud
focused on the organization of thoughts in dreams in his book on dream analysis. In dreams,
the apparent meaning of the stories becomes clear even without the effort of conscious control;
such as we nd in the waking status. The dream therefore, offers an access to these unconscious
meaningful relationships. The important factor in this realization seems not to be the state of
sleep, but the absence of control (Freud, 1900 p.598). Our interview partners were not informed
about the meaning behind our exercises. It seems that inducing a state of “non sense” will
help to discover neurological patterns. What Freud described as a phenomenon in dreams, also
appears when we ask mangers to randomly pair words with no apparent sense to the task. This
lack of sense in the association process, we assume, had prevented conscious control.
It would appear our method shares common aspects of C. G. Jung’s word association
test (Jung, 1910). In Jung’s test, the subjects pair a presented word with an associated word
Using Colours in a Novel Association Technique
as quickly as possible. To Jung, the way in which a person responded was of highest interest.
Whether or not the patient hesitated to answer or showed an increase in heart rate for instance,
would offer insights about the relationship to the specic term. The results of Jung’s test
presented themselves as uncorrelated words on paper. What really mattered to Jung, was the
clinical diagnosis obtained through this method; Jung would make interpretations about
the type of conicts based on the reaction to the words. In comparison, our color approach
reveals the emotional meaning behind the words in the semantic structure of the color groups
themselves. The color hereby acts as a “magnet” collecting words with similar meanings.
Perhaps the most well known association technique still used, is the Rorschach technique
(Rorschach, 1927): a projective personality assessment based on the participant’s reactions to
a series of ten inkblot pictures. The Rorschach technique is used to elicit information about
the structure and dynamics of an individual’s personality functioning. The test provides
information about a person’s thought processes, perceptions, motivations, and attitude toward
his or her environment, and it can detect internal and external pressures and conicts as well
as illogical or psychotic thought patterns. What appears relevant in light of our approach, is the
signicance of color addition by Rorschach to his technique (Rorschach, 1927). His idea on
colors was that they pertain to emotions that are cued differently from thoughts and actions, i.e.
the colors cue emotional reactions on an unconscious level. His color response technique has
since been fundamentally reworked, expanded and systematized (Piotrowski, 1957) and similar
techniques have been developed. Yet, what these methods have in common is the idea of free
word association, inspired by an image. In contrast, our method of association uses few words
to derive even fewer colors, giving new structure to the process. The Rorschach technique aims
at exploring and expanding the associations, with unknown results. Our technique is focused,
resulting in a structure.
Jung’s association test - and even more so Rorschach’s test - requires extensive preparation
and training, as well as reasonable experience as a psychoanalyst. It is our belief that the color
group method can be applied by anyone. Further, the automatic structure of the test offers the
possibility of a computerized assessment. This would, in return, allow for a collection of large
data and various groups with an immediate display of the results in a cluster analysis.
Discussion and Outlook
Our belief is that we have discovered a possible approach to unveil the unconscious mental
patterns of corporate leaders, both individually and group assessable. Since the maps we created
appeared explicable to all the managers interviewed, we conclude that this method has proven
itself valuable. Certainly, these ndings merely present a crack in a rock, behind which lies an
unexplored cave, yet we believe we have touched on a matter that is worth investigating. It is our
Socioanalysis 17
idea, that the apparent lack of sense for participants during this questioning technique is crucial
in order to access unconscious meaningful relationships. Psychoanalysis discovered this aspect
in the study of dreams, neuroscientists use the same principle in a different technique, whereby
they request the patient to “think of nothing specic” during an MRI examination.
To test our assumptions, validating research needs to be done on larger samples, different
settings and approaches in order to determine the directional link between unconscious- and
neurobiological mapping. Since the end of the project in 2013, we redeveloped the approach
into a method that has been used in client coaching. Clients, who sought advice regarding their
choice of profession have been given the task of self-assigning colors to job-specic terms
such as construction, help, teaching, and creation, as well as general terms like victory,
exhaustion, energy, offense, defense, self-fulllment, defeat. The resulting graphs were
used as a basis for discussion. Most of the clients found analyzing a structured map on their
thoughts about the topics useful. Of course we realize these graphs are merely snapshots
capturing the representations only as they are currently recalled. However, we would be
interested in conducting further long-term research on change and development. Ideally this
would require an exploration of a coaching setting with a long-term relationship to the client for
best results.
Other researchers may nd it useful to adapt the approach for the exploration of other
target groups. In clinical work, within a diagnostical framework, the approach could be
used to explore how important topics of social life are interconnected. So far, this is done
through mind mapping, whereby a hand drawn visualization of a client’s thoughts and topics
is created over the course of a conversation with the therapist. Our method differs from this
approach in two ways. Firstly, it does not result in a map that is gradually created during the
session through the hands of the client, therapist and possible further participants, but rather
collects the necessary information beforehand. Due to the condition of rapid association, the
therapist receives a less ltered recollection of contextual connections between meaningful
words from the client. Secondly, the method of collecting allows a standardized displaying of
results. Mindmaps are much harder to compare – between an individual at different points in
life; between two individuals visiting the same therapist; between different clients of different
therapists etc. In mind mapping, as well as in the other previous association methods discussed
in this paper, what is essentially missing is simply a lack of similarity and quantiable data. This
we aim to improve by standardizing our method and applying cluster analysis. We are convinced
that business psychology, as well as clinical psychology could mutually benet from future
explorations of this idea.
Acknowledgment: We thank Susan D. Long, Michael B. Buchholz and Jaan Valsiner for
their helpful suggestions to this paper.
Using Colours in a Novel Association Technique
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Biographical Notes:
Thomas Kretschmar is the managing director of Mind Inst itute SE, a Berlin based company for psychoanalytic studies
in organizations. Prior to this Thomas has been a professor for organizat ional studies at the HT W university of applied
sciences in Berli n, an entrepreneur and CEO of a listed company Hypoport AG and a member of the board of Droege
& Comp., international business consultants Dusseldorf. Thomas has stud ied business adm inistration in Goettingen
and psycholog y in Berl in. He is a certied senior coach in the two major German coaching associat ions and a member
Jana Meinel is a research assistant at Mind Institute SE, a Berlin based company for psychoanalytic studies in
organizations. She is a graduate of psychology at the International Psychoanaly tic un iversit y. Jana has a bachelor of
science in psychology and an internat ional baccalaureate.
... nannten etwa signifikant viele Mitglieder dieser Gruppe zu den Wörtern "Markt", "Innovation" und "Sport" dieselbe Farbe, war davon auszugehen, dass diese Wörter in der untersuchten Gruppe in einem Sinnzusammenhang stehen. Der Farbassoziationstest funktionierte besonders gut, wenn wir ihn -ganz unverfänglich -als Warm-Up zum eigentlichen Interview ankündigten (Kretschmar & Meinel, 2015). ...
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While the practical benefits of psychoanalytically oriented executive and organizational development has long been established in many countries, their potential is still largely untapped in Germany. Psychoanalysis – understood as an empirically informed technique of handling psychodynamic processes – has effective and innovative techniques for dealing with transmission, resistance, repetition and other phenomena of the workaday life of organizations. Therefore classic and novel psychoanalytic methods and technical terms are presented and discussed with a view to their practical value for use in businesses and organizations.
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Eleven patients underwent injection of amobarbital into their right and left internal carotid arteries (Wada test) to determine propositional language dominance as part of a standard clinical evaluation when considering ablative neurosurgery for control of epileptic seizures. During the right-sided injection, patients were asked to recall verbally an emotional life experience that had been identified before the Wada test as part of a research project to assess affective prosody. To our astonishment, most of the patients dramatically altered their recall of the affective but not the factual content of the life event. This paper recounts these serindipitous and unexpected observations and, in conjunction with a literature review, develops the formative concept that social emotions are modulated by the left hemisphere, whereas primary emotions are modulated by the right hemisphere, a hypothesis that readily encompasses two divergent but commonly held views concerning the lateralization of emotions in the brain - all (primary) emotions are modulated by the right hemisphere versus positive emotions are modulated by the left hemisphere while negative emotions are modulated by the right. A comprehensive neurology of emotions relevant to understanding psychiatric behaviors is then synthesized, which also accounts for the psychological constructs of repression and the subconscious.
Part One * Consciousness and the Scientific Observer * Proposals and Disclaimers Part Two * Neural Darwinism * Reentrant Signaling * Perceptual Experience and Consciousness Part Three * Memory as Recategorization * Time and Space: Cortical Appendages and Organs of Succession * Concepts and Presyntax Part Four * A Model of Primary Consciousness * Language * Higher-Order Consciousness * The Conscious and the Unconscious * Diseases of Consciousness Part Five * Physics, Evolution, and Consciousness: A Summary * Philosophical Issues: Qualified Realism * Epilogue
In the last 20 or 30 years a vision of Sigmund Freud has been seeming to become reality: It is well known that Freud never gave up his hope that some day developments in the neurosciences might contribute to a scientific foundation of psychoanalysis in terms of the natural sciences. One reason why Freud himself did not continue his own attempts for such a neuroscientific foundation of psychoanalysis, his Outline of psychoanalysis [1], was his confrontation with the obvious limitations of the methodologies of the neurosciences of his time [2]. He then consistently defined psychoanalysis as a pure psychology of the unconscious.
The international conference on Neurosciences and Psychoanalysis: memory, emotions and dreams held in Genoa in 2004 focused on three core themes in theory and research in both psychoanalysis and human brain sciences: memory, emotion, and dreaming. We participated in this conference by presenting the basic concepts of an integrative model of the brain functions that create biography (and thus individual thoughts, emotions, plans, and dreams), leading to an individual subjective viewpoint during all states of development and of consciousness. Using these concepts we discuss (1) psychosocially manifested developmental changes as products of the brain's learning and memory functions that create biography, i. E., autobiographical memory via experience-dependent cortical plasticity; and (2) the role of the brain's state-dependent but memory-driven retrieval processes in forming the individual's momentary thoughts, emotions, and actions, and their conscious perception, as well as the dream's content and the possibility of it being remembered during wakefulness.
The most recent scientific studies have brought a significant contribution to the understanding of basic mental functions such as memory, dreams, identification, repression, which constitute the basis of the psychoanalytical theory. As a matter of fact, numerous neuroscientific observations in recent years have laid the ground for hypotheses on the neurological organization of mental functions that are fundamental to psychoanalytical theory; the discovery of the implicit memory has extended Freud's concept of the unconscious (1915) and highlighted the unrepressed unconscious connected particularly to experiences of the primary relation, stored in the implicit memory. The book focuses on the possibility of interactions between psychoanalysis and neuroscience - i.e., emotions and the right hemisphere, serotonin and depression - and will be a unique tool not only for for professionals and students working in these fields, but also for operators of allied disciplines, such as psychology and psychotherapy.