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Psychodynamic vs Cognitive Theory

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by toby jones, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. toby jones

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    I finally managed to wade my way through 'Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobology of Emotional Development'.

    Do we have any cognitive psychologists posting here? (I don't mean cognitive therapists, I mean cognitive psychologists).

    What I'm wondering is...

    How do you reconcile psychodynamic structures / processes with cognitive psychological structures / processes?

    Sometimes we can do a little bit of a hierarchy like this:

    Biology
    Chemistry
    Physics

    Where (so to speak) once God fixed the facts of physics the facts of chemistry and biology were fixed for free. It wasn't that on day one he fixed the facts of physics and on day two he fixed the facts of chemistry etc.

    Is pychodynamic theory at the same level as cognitive psychology (hence they could be genuine rivals) or is it higher level (where the facts of psychodynamic theory are fixed by the facts at the cognitive psychological level)? Of course cognitive psychology is far from complete, but I hope you get the notion that I'm gesturing towards some idealised 'final science' when it is complete.

    I found this a while back:

    http://arts.adelaide.edu.au/humaniti...nconscious.pdf

    I agree with the authors conclusion that cognitive psychology HAS NOT vindicated the dynamic unconscious. Then the issue becomes 'how crucial is the dynamic unconscious for psychodynamic theory'? Because maybe psychodynamic theory could simply dispense with it too...

    I'd be interested in peoples thoughts.
     
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  3. Logic Prevails

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    I'd be happy to engage you in a discussion about this topic, but you need to be more specific. Most of the time cognitive and contemporary psychodynamic theory can be easily translated - it's usually just a matter of semantics.

    Personally, I see modern psychodynamic theory to be more macrosystemic in my arsenal of theories. Current theories are global, flexible, and fit well with neuroscience and the ever-important attachment theory. For me, cognitive theory has it's place within the others.

    I doubt that we will see any 'final science' in our lifetimes. If we ever get there, it may in fact be called the "cognitive paradigm", but it will only be complete after it is done integrating all of the components of other approaches (such as the most recent acceptance of mindfulness).

    Before I rant, I will just say that this article is not particularly scholarly - at least not in the sense that it would convince anyone that there is no dynamic unconscious (not that I agree that there is one as Freud meant it).

    If this article was to make any convincing arguments, it would need to draw upon more current research in the neurosciences (research that appears to support modern psychodynamic views). Interestingly, the article talks about a "cognitive unconscious" that argues for some kind of 'unconscious computation' drawing from findings relevant to: 1) modality-specific perceptual representation (i.e. blindsight studies) and 2) so called "rule-structures" (as in language) with reference to Chomsky (outdated references). Here are only a few things I don't like about their arguments: 1) there is no mention of the brain, 2) there is no mention of emotion, 3) they are mostly arguing against Freud's view of the unconscious (not contemporary dynamic theory) and 3) our brains are complex non-linear organic systems... stop trying to turn this into some kind of computer processing crap! (my main beef against any cognitive-only conceptualization).
     
  4. toby jones

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    > Most of the time cognitive and contemporary psychodynamic theory can be easily translated - it's usually just a matter of semantics.

    Can you give me some examples of translations?

    I guess the 'id' is roughly... The limbic system? That isn't translation between the language of cognitive psychology and psychodynamic psychology, however. It is an identification (or reduction) of a psychodynamic structure into a neurobiological structure.

    I can't think of any examples of cognitive psychology / psychodynamic theory translations or identification of structures by way of neurobiology. If you have examples, I'd be grateful.

    > Before I rant, I will just say that this article is not particularly scholarly - at least not in the sense that it would convince anyone that there is no dynamic unconscious (not that I agree that there is one as Freud meant it). If this article was to make any convincing arguments, it would need to draw upon more current research in the neurosciences (research that appears to support modern psychodynamic views).

    This is partly an issue of burden of proof. Psychodynamic theorists (they were supposing) often talk about 'the dynamic unconscious' where the dynamic unconscious plays a certain role in their theory. When physicists posit the existence of atoms or molecules or neutrinos or whatever the burden of proof is on them to explain why it is that we should believe in such things. Similarly if the psychodynamic theorists want us to believe in the dynamic unconscious (a mental structure or process that has certain properties and that plays a certain role in our mental life) then the burden of proof is on them to give us some positive reasons to believe in it.

    The article was focused on responding to a very specific claim that some (recent) theorists have made. Namely, the claim that cognitive psychology has vindicated (in the sense of has given us positive reason to believe in) the dynamic unconscious.

    The authors considered the evidence that has led cognitive psychologists to talk about unconscious processes and none of that evidence is a positive reason to believe in the dynamic unconscious. Hence cognitive psychology HAS NOT vindicated the dynamic unconscious. That was the thrust of the argument.

    Of course just because cognitive psychology hasn't vindicated the dynamic unconscious doesn't mean that there isn't a dynamic unconscious. (Just because I offer a fallacious argument for a conclusion does not entail that the conclusion is false).

    They went on to consider that cognitive psychology can explain the processes that the dynamic unconscious is hauled in to explain and hence believing in the dynamic unconscious is unnecessary.

    One worry that I have about this is that there may well be OTHER phenomena (that the authors of the article did not consider) that cognitive psychology doesn't explain. Examples might be 'defence mechanisms' such as the phenomena of projection, denial, projective identification etc. Psychodynamic theory offers an explanation of such phenomena by talking about these theoretical entities and processes such as the id the ego the superego and the dynamic unconscious. Can anyone think of an alternative cognitive psychological explanation of these phenomena? If you can, I'd be grateful.

    The 'cognitive unconscious' was posited by cognitive psychologists to explain such phenomena as visual processing and syntactical rules. That is history of cognitive psychology. Once we see this then doesn't it seem a little odd that some psychodynamic theorists have claimed that the cognitive unconscious has vindicated the dynamic unconsicous? No relation, huh.

    Or...

    Is there?
     
  5. Logic Prevails

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    Well, I don't know of any articles off the top of my head that aim to translate cognitive and psychodynamic ideas per se, but I think it can be done without too much effort. In therapy, for example, a psychodynamic therapist might be looking for signs of affect that the patient may be defending... a cognitive therapist might do the same, while looking for "hot cognitions" (Damasio) - which appears to be the way cognitive psychologists might be trying to integrate emotion into their model. Similarly, one might roughly translate object relations, attachment orientation, and internal working models.

    If you read Schore's (+ Siegel, Cozolino) work, and are familiar with dynamic theory, then you might easily draw the lines. Perhaps take a look at neurobiological findings in individuals who have experienced severe trauma (i.e. reduced hippocampal volume). Note that these same individuals are frequently unable to remember trauma (one might call repression) and may have difficulty expressing emotion. After successful therapy, they are frequently able to recall the trauma, experience emotion, and neurobiological markers are no longer evident. In my mind, this provides at least some minimal evidence for psychodynamic constructs (especially defense mechanisms). Stop thinking about the id, ego, etc. - it is to easy to argue Freud's original constructs. Dynamic theory has evolved since then and in my mind, accounts for things that cognitive theory does not. Again, I don't fancy us being compared to computers... we are nonlinear biological systems... the computer analogy has gone too far.

    One of these days, I think you're going to have to come to grips with the idea that cognitive theory cannot account for all of our experience and you will be forced to be a multi-theory individual.
     
  6. NeuroPsyStudent

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    Wow, what a celebration this thread is! I remember reading a few weeks ago Toby's rather rigid views of psychodynamic approaches. People suggested that he sit down and read the Schore book (which is no small task!!!), and he did it! I love that. Thanks, Toby for your enthusiasm and energy. It is neat to see this network working to expand our thinking. Regardless of where you end up on the issue, it is inspiring to see the aliveness of this cyber community.
     
  7. Logic Prevails

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    Yes, I also give Toby a thumbs up for doing his research and creating an interesting discussion.:thumbup:
     
  8. toby jones

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    I want to draw a clear distinction between the science of the mind / brain and the treatment of the mind / brain. What I mean by this is that I'm primarily interested in the nature of the mind / brain (to be determined by science) rather than in the treatment of the mind / brain (to be determined by empirical studies on varieties of therapy). With respect to varieties of therapy a theraputic technique can be effective yet people could be fairly wrongheaded with respect to *why* it works, or with respect to what the mechanisms of change are. I'm interested in the nature of the mind / brain in the sense of finding out what mental structures / processes there. Of course this project feeds into treatment with respect to entailing that certain novel treatment techniques could benefit and with respect to our understanding the mechanisms of change. I am primarily interested in the nature of the mind rather than what therapists do in practice, however.

    For example... Eclecticism (use whatever technique works) is an increasingly popular variety of therapy. That is great, I have no problem with people using whatever technique works. With respect to understanding *why* the different techniques work, however, it seems to me that we don't have a coherant picture of the structures / processes in the mind. It might be okay for us to talk in metaphors to our clients but that isn't helping the scientific project. I want to focus on the scientific project.

    What this means is that by 'cognitive psychology' I'm not talking so much about 'cognitive therapy' (whose relation to cognitive psychology is unclear). I'm talking about good old information processing psychology where the evidence for functional modules is provided by double dissociations and where tasks like object recognition and tensing verbs are decomposed into functional sub-tasks and (ideally) localised in the neurology.

    I was reading about how it is problematic how objects get to be introjected. This sounds a little like a 'schema' which is a posited mental structure in cognitive psychology. Philosophers have done a lot of work on the problem of representation. If psychodynamic theorists had read Locke then they wouldn't be so confused about whether they were talking about the object (external) or their representation / idea of the object (internal). There is also stuff on connotation and dennotation in mental representations. Dennotation is what is required for the object to be picked out. The dennotation of 'gold' is whatever stuff has atomic number 79. The connotation of 'gold' is the associated meanings (associations) such as 'good' and 'pretty' and 'makes me feel happy when I find some' etc etc. Sounds like cathexis to me????????????????????

    I guess attachment theory is something that is common to both experimental psychology and psychodynamic theory.

    I think I need to read up on contemporary cognitive / developmental psychology to see how psychodynamic theory differs from cognitive theory when they are looking at the same subject matter. Anyone have any references on that?

    > I don't fancy us being compared to computers... we are nonlinear biological systems... the computer analogy has gone too far.

    Maybe it depends on what kind of computational processing? I agree that the feedforward assumption is false and that one can't remove a module and expect everything else to remain the same and that processing can be in parallel rather than seriel. If you view connectionism / PDP networks as computational, however...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectionism
     
  9. MeghanHF

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    Toby, I think you're a pain in the ass...

    If I'm understanding correctly, this is your main question and you're asking in terms of research not clinical practice:
    Well, I'm not sure that you do. They're different theories and the implicit assumption in your question is that they should fit neatly together. Either that, or one becomes the absolute reflection of what reality is and the other dies. Perhaps it's more interesting to put them in dialog with eachother, to see where they come together and where they deviate, to hold the inconsistencies and contradictions in mind.

    I agree that psychodynamic theory has the same burden of proof as other sciences. However, I get annoyed by the current trend amongst some psychodynamic/psychoanalytic researchers who are tyring to fit psychoanalytic structures/processes into a cognitive model of research. Traditionally, psychoanalytic research has relied on case study and qualitative methods to prove structures and processes because that's what fits the data. Like I wouldn't measure a an atom in inches, I wouldn't measure projective identification with a self-report inventory.

    I'm sure there are others who have dedicated themselves to something like your question. This guy may be a good resource for you http://myweb.brooklyn.liu.edu/pwong/Index.htm. Also, if you haven't, it may be interesting for you to read a psychoanalytic case that illustrates the dynamic unconscious. I can email you something if you like.

    What did you think of 'Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobology of Emotional Development'?
     
  10. NeuroPsyStudent

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    lol! What a funny way to begin a rather sincere email. You are right -- the neuropsychoanalysis types are grasping. But I have always found Drew Westen's review pieces believable. However, Kihlstrom isn't too fond of the way Westen has quoted his writings on the "cognitive unconscious"....Then there is also Kandel, but I haven't read enough of his to have much of an opinion.
     
  11. toby jones

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    Yes, you understood me correctly.

    I guess that when it comes to the natural world (I include minds as part of the natural world though might possibly make an exception for phenomenal properties that psychologists don't need to worry about) I'm fairly much a realist. That means that my view of science is that it is approximating reality more and more over time. What justification do I have for that claim? Technological progress (where technology, medicine etc crucially depend on scientific progress).

    But rather than different research groups finding a piece of the jigsaw that can be nicely slotted in with the work of other research groups it is often unclear how findings (and theoretical entities, processes, laws and the like) relate to each other. Physicists (and chemists, and biologists etc) also tend to work at more than one level. There are physicists working on the behaviour of middle sized salient objects and there are physicists working on the behaviour of sub-atomic particles. A lot of scientific models have more than one level built into their model.

    I guess the first question is: Is the phenomena shared between psychodynamic theory and cognitive theory? If they don't share subject matter in common then they would be incomparable. The second question is: Are they at the same level? If they aren't then they wouldn't seem to conflict.

    I don't expect that they will fit neatly together anymore than one can expect the research of one group to fit neatly together with the research of another group (unless, of course, they converge on their theoretical assumptions and the entities and processes they posit etc).

    I think that things need to be assessed on a case by case basis. The investigation could proceed as follows:

    - What is the function of a certain psychodynamic entity (e.g., the dynamic unconscious). This gives us a descriptive list of causal properties where one of the aims should be to 'locate' that entity within the individual IF these purported entities are supposed to describe actual causal structures within individuals.
    - What is the reason for positing the psychodynamic entity (e.g., the clinical data that led the theorists to posit the functional entity. We could discover that the jump from the clinical data to the functional entity is unwarranted and we can decompose the relevant functions into different mechanistic structures).

    We would need to assess things on a case by case (or structure by structure) basis.

    > I get annoyed by the current trend amongst some psychodynamic/psychoanalytic researchers who are tyring to fit psychoanalytic structures/processes into a cognitive model of research. Traditionally, psychoanalytic research has relied on case study and qualitative methods to prove structures and processes because that's what fits the data. Like I wouldn't measure a an atom in inches, I wouldn't measure projective identification with a self-report inventory.

    Self report inventory isn't used much in cognitive psychology because people tend to confabulate and so forth. I'm thinking it might be a little unfair to have focused on the scientific issue of the nature of the mind / brain since psychodynamic theory was developed in a clinical context for the treatment of patients. The trouble I'm having is that I think they are seperable enterprises and if the description of causal mechanisms within the individual is inaccurate / false then it is pointless to appeal to them as mechanisms of change in anything other than a metaphoric way.

    Thanks for the link. Yes, I would like to see the evidence for the dynamic unconscious.

    I read the Schore book fairly swiftly and I'd like to read it a little more thoroughly one day though I really don't have the time at present. One thought was 'if he says "critical period" one more time I am going to SCREAM'. When he was talking about infant development (and trying to motivate early intervention, I suppose) he kept talking about 'critical period' in a way that seemed comperable to how Lorenz found there was a 'critical period' in imprinting such that if goslings didn't see a motherly figure within a certain period of time they NEVER would imprint. Then later (when he was trying to motivate therapy for people later in life) he said that these early experiences could be overcome due to neural plasticity. He did say something about how there are 'two notions of critical period' but I really do think that he should have picked one (Lorenz' notion which is familiar to people already) and been consistent.

    But that is a fairly small gripe really... I found the start to be hard going. An assertion and then five references. Another assertion and then five references. Hard to assess whether to believe the assertion without assessing those five references and he wasn't offering any reasons to believe (aside from an appeal to five references). But things picked up considerably when he started to say what he thought. I guess he was setting the stage for the experts initially?

    Some of the neurobiology was a bit over my head. But it was good for me to get some more exposure. I've read Le Doux and Damasio (their stuff on emotions) so it was interesting to me to read more about the role of the orbitofrontal cortex. I've also read some stuff on the 'dual inheritance' model of emotions. The notion is that parents and the like culturally scaffold their kids emotional (and moral) development by structuring their environment so they are exposed to various things. Reading them fairytales and modelling appropriate emotions and so forth. Schore's stuff fits in nicely with that and I was really very interested to read what he had to say about the (m)other acting as an external regulator for arousal and how those external functions come to be mirrored (or represented) in the neurology.

    With respect to the psychodynamic stuff... I found that much harder. I should probably be upfront about something... I personally like psychodynamic views on therapy much more than CBT views on therapy. When it comes to investigating the nature of the mind / brain (to make sure we aren't just talking in metaphors) I really struggle, however. There are a number of analytic philosophers working in cognitive neuroscience (basically looking at how cognitive and neurological entities, processes etc) relate. Philosophers were fairly influential with respect to developing the assumptions and methodology that guides current cognitive psychological research (NOTE: NOT CBT research on therapy or assessment of mental illness).

    There is next to nothing within the ANALYTIC philosophy tradition on psychodynamic theory. Most of the stuff that has been written is hostile to its status as a science (telling us about the causal structure of the mind). It is studied a lot within CONTINENTAL philosophy, but that is mostly regarding it to be literary much like existentialism and so forth.

    I don't think I'm hostile. But I do think I'm critical. Of BOTH cognitive psychology and psychodynamic theory, however.

    I found Schore really interesting because I'm used to reading neurology that weaves between the cognitive and neurological levels. For example: http://www.amazon.com/Cognitive-Neuropsychology-Schizophrenia-Essays-Psychology/dp/0863773346
    I've never seen anyone weave between the psychodynamic and neurological levels before.

    But it got me thinking... Whether Schore could have told a cognitive story instead of a psychodynamic one. Whether Frith could have told a psychodynamic story instead of a cognitive one. And more in particular it got me thinking on the relationship between cognitive psychological and psychodynamic theory with respect to the posited mental structures / processes...
     
  12. Neuro-Dr

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    I would refer you to "The Emotional Brain" by joseph Ledoux as I think it speaks to lines differentiating the "cognitive unconscious" from psychodynamic unconscious. It falls short of getting you into the ventral tegmental areas that may be more associated with pleasure seeking. However, I think in terms of understanding fear based systems that involve pathways for cognitive processing and emotion processing it can be helpful. In many ways the behavioral therapies are more easily represented through reciprical frontal-thalamic pathways, but you get a good sense of how the brain "weighs" information that is both cognitive and emotional.
     
  13. toby jones

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    Thanks for that. I've read 'The emotional brain' (though have yet to read 'the synaptic self'). I've also read Damasio's 'The feeling of what happens' and 'Descartes error' (and there is one that mentions Spinoza that I will get to at some point).

    > It falls short of getting you into the ventral tegmental areas that may be more associated with pleasure seeking.

    Hmm. I really do need to read up on neuropsychology. Haven't done much of that since second year (and I get 'blah blah blah' happening in my head when I can't visualise what they are talking about).

    Actually, that is one more thing that I forgot to mention that I liked about the Shore stuff: I really liked the fact that he focused on HUMAN infant development instead of looking at the neurology of rats or cats or monkeys :)

    > In many ways the behavioral therapies are more easily represented through reciprical frontal-thalamic pathways, but you get a good sense of how the brain "weighs" information that is both cognitive and emotional.

    Hmm... Maybe I need to read the book again...

    (And thanks for your words of encouragement, by the way)
     
  14. Neuro-Dr

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    Unfortunately, no one deals effectively with drive models which are those that are most important to sex, hunger, pleasure, etc. However, what I like about Ledoux's work is that it gets into the concept of the evolutionary conservation of emotions. Instead of focusing on them as conscious experiences. You certainly can use animal models for the pathways to most emotions (at a basic level). To your original question of how it is mapped to the brain you can almost play it out with disorders like OCD and Tourettes. In TS, the overactivation appears to be at the level of orbital frontal through dop pathways to the level of the putamen, where fragments of behaviro are storde, the why is perhaps still less clear but the result is an overactivation of behavioral fragments meant to satiate that orbital firing. This is partly why haldol and some atypical antipsychotics will diminsh the tics and why stimulants at times will exacerbate it.

    In OCD, drive model predicts orbit involvement as well through connections at the caudate neurcleus, agin why stimulants can exacerbate the compulsions. However, the level is higher and you get full behaviors in attempts to shut down the orbital firing. The person is aware (dorsal lateral or what Gazziniga would call the "interpretor") that the fear is irrational, but helpless to stop. Unlike TS, th orbit firing appears to be related to amygdala responses and thus the SSRI is more useful, but explains also why atypical are decent anxiolytics. The poitnLeDoux makes is that none of these behavioral responses REQUIRES consciouseness, but in a conscious brain, the person will be aware of the expression of these pathways and seek to interpret them. AS with anosognosia or alien hand syndrome, the brain can only make sense of what inputs it gets. Chop of the arm and then ask the patient to move it and they tell you you're an idot for asking. Chop out the cortex controlling the arm but leave the arm intact and you can get a person that says, "what arm" (some cases will vary). The questions of what is the "ID" are likely stored in these ventral tegmental systems, the superego will be the differential balance of those frontal systems involved with beliefs and often these are ventral-medial prefrontal when a person comes in conflict with reasoning and beliefs (some anterior cingulate I imagine). The ego is harder to figure. I'm not sure it needs to be defined to a region so much as how you answer psychodynamic questions such as cyclical maladaptive relationships and you can do that through pathways from amygdala to frontal lobe.
     
  15. NeuroPsyStudent

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    Neuro-Dr., regarding drives, I wonder what you think of Jaak Pankseep's work. I have heard him speak, but I know he also has a book, "Affective Neuroscience", which outlines his work on drives.
     
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  17. Neuro-Dr

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    I'm admittedly a little dubious of his naltrexone theories for disorders like autsim, but I can't say that I've read anything by him.
     
  18. Peripheral7

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    Regarding the comment about how the burden of proof of the unconscious rest upon the psychodynamic theorist.. I have to disagree. Psychoanalysis has been around for over 100 years now - and it's still alive and well despite lame HMOs and managed health care and biological psychiatry and CBT/short-term cost-effective interventions. Why is this? B/c when a patient and therapist begin to understand a patient's UCs material, they get better.. behaviorists have no clue about the UCs b/c they're only interested in what's right in front of their faces - and their tx's are suitable for different type patients (namely DD pts, and conduct d/o'd kids). Psychoanalytic theory has certainly evolved over the last 100 years but many of Freud's ideas hold true today - but, I'm still baffled by psychologist who actually don't believe in the unconscious. I've heard many scientists not working in the field of psychology state that the unconscious is the most interesting there is to study. If you've ever been in psychoanalytic therapy or psychoanalysis or if you had been trained in conducting it, you would know that it doesn't need to be proven b/c it's obvious and ubiquitous, much like transference. Politics in the US have made studying the unconscious unfashionable for your average generalist psychologist - it'll prbly come back full circle again..and if not, analysts will still be doing their jobs, as they are today in most major US city. If you start to look for the unconscious at work, it becomes easy to recognize and it's so fascinating.. usually when people engage in behaviors that seem unreasonable and no one can explain why, esp the person him/herself, it's the unconscious that's driving the person. By turning your attention to the unconscious, you can get a much better understanding of why people do what they do. All the psych grad schools training their students to do CBT and other cost-effective tx's are selling their graduates short when they bash psychoanalytic theory b/c freud was off on a few things (and they fail to mention that he was right on some hugely important things), they completely gloss over why people do things they normally wouldn't do.. or why they engage in destructive patterns.. cognitive therapists will call it errors in thinking (this is reductionistic and naive)..a woman who keeps getting involved with a battering BF is being driven by her unconscious.. there are countless examples like this.. anyhow, just wanted to comment since you seem to think it's incumbent upon psychoanalytic theorist to prove that the UCs exists - Schore's books do some justice in bridging neurobiology with psychoanalytic theory (really attachment theory).. there will be more to come.. in time..
     
  19. toby jones

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    When someone offers a construct (e.g., atoms, genes, species, the dynamic unconscious) the burden of proof is on the theorist/s who are offering the construct.

    > when a patient and therapist begin to understand a patient's UCs material, they get better..

    You are begging the question (assuming precisely what it is that I'm requesting evidence for) in appealling to 'understanding' the dynamic unconscious as the mechanism of change in psychodynamic theory. I'm not questioning the utility of psychodynamic theory. I'm questioning whether the 'dynamic unconscious' is something to be found in nature or whether the 'dynamic unconscious' is more like constructs such as 'phlogiston' and 'caloric fluid'.

    > I'm still baffled by psychologist who actually don't believe in the unconscious.

    I don't think you will find a psychologist who doesn't believe in unconscious mental processes (though we can haggle over whether they get to count as 'mental').

    The dynamic unconscious is supposed to have certain properties, however. I'm wondering:

    - What those properties are
    - What role the dynamic unconscious plays in psychodynamic theory (this is related to the above point).

    It then becomes an empirical matter whether there is such a process / structure that meets the above description.

    > If you've ever been in psychoanalytic therapy or psychoanalysis or if you had been trained in conducting it, you would know that it doesn't need to be proven b/c it's obvious and ubiquitous

    That is slightly scary to me. It seems to put psychodynamic theory at odds with the rest of science.

    > If you start to look for the unconscious at work, it becomes easy to recognize and it's so fascinating..

    We might be able to get inter-rater reliability for such constructs as 'phlogiston' and 'caloric fluid' and 'super-lunary object' and the like. Maybe even for 'demonic possession' and 'witch'. We can surely get it for the majority of 'trees' and 'grasses' and 'bushes' and 'flowering plants'. It doesn't follow from that that they are natural kinds of entities to be found in nature, however... (In the sense that they feature into the best scientific theory)

    > usually when people engage in behaviors that seem unreasonable and no one can explain why, esp the person him/herself, it's the unconscious that's driving the person.

    Ah.

    > By turning your attention to the unconscious, you can get a much better understanding of why people do what they do.

    Now my concern is how much what we really get is an 'ad hoc' explanation or a 'just so' story (as are all too frequent with evolutionary explanations).

    > a woman who keeps getting involved with a battering BF is being driven by her unconscious..

    Do we need to appeal to the dynamic unconscious in order to explain repetition compulsion or are there other ways that we can explain this?
     
  20. toby jones

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    The methodology I'm suggesting isn't just a methodology that can be used to assess psychodynamic theory as a whole it is a methodology that can be used to try and assess one particular psychodynamic claim against another, conflicting particular psychodynamic claim.

    For example, instead of worrying about the 'dynamic unconscious' suppose we turn our attention to the 'death instinct' or ones supposed 'innate drive of agression / destruction'.

    Why was it that Freud (and others) were led to posit this innate destructive drive? Because Freud observed some of the atrocities committed during the war. And because someone else (Klein?) observed the rage of toddlers. Those observations are supposed to provide support for the notion of the agressive drive.

    But other psychodynamic theorists don't believe in this agressive drive. They think that the behaviours above can all be explained by appealing to what happens when the libidinal urges are frustrated. So there is no need to posit the death instinct or the innate drive to agression when the behaviours that that entity are supposed to explain can be satisfactorily be explained by the libido and the frustration of libidinal urges.

    How do we decide?

    - What properties does the death instinct have?
    - What sorts of things (acts) is the death instinct supposed to explain?
    - Are there alternative explanations available to us that don't require us to posit another entity?
    - What independent evidence do we have for the existence of the death instinct?

    Lemmings are instructive with regards to this point. I suppose most people have heard the myth that Lemmings have a mass suicide every now and again and they throw themselves off cliffs. Biologists heard about this and were very puzzled. Why on earth would a drive to death have evolved for? They attempted to track these Lemmings down so they could try and figure out how on earth mass suicide could be an adaptive strategy. They found that Lemmings simply don't do this. (Disney is to be blamed for the hoax).

    Why on earth would there be a drive to death?

    The death instinct seems to be seriously out of wack with the rest of science...

    Some support for the psychodynamic theorists who don't believe in the death instinct... Perhaps...
     
  21. NeuroPsyStudent

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    Many contemporary psychodynamic clinicians ignore most of Freud's ideas....death instinct, libidinal stages, and even oedipal are considered arachaic. What remains is the wonderful progression of the psychoanalytic tradition through Bowbly to attachment theory. Check out Peter Fonagy.
     
  22. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    Sigh...........

    Toby, perhaps you should begin with a working knowledge of the concepts you're interested (i.e. the death drive, libido, infantile aggression, etc). "Someone else (Klein?)" gives away certain deficits in your knowledge and understanding.

    Peripheral7, beware the faith-healer talk of "b/c it's obvious and ubiquitous". You may be right but that won't fly in most professional settings. There's a large and ever growing body of research to back up psychoanalytic psychology.

    Neuro-Dr and NeuroPsychStudent, :thumbup: .
     
  23. toby jones

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    Sigh.

    > Toby, perhaps you should begin with a working knowledge of the concepts you're interested (i.e. the death drive, libido, infantile aggression, etc). "Someone else (Klein?)" gives away certain deficits in your knowledge and understanding.

    If you could be bothered explaining them to me I'd be grateful.
     
  24. NeuroPsyStudent

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    Stephen Mitchell's "Freud and Beyond" is a great book to survey the development of psychodynamic thinking, but again I would suggest looking at Peter Fonagy's work. His "Affect Regulation and the Development of the Self" is great for a contemporary sense of the way psychodynamic clinicians work. Another nice book for object relations is Schafer's "Bad Feelings". None of these books are going to talk about the neurobiology of psychodynamic approaches (except the Fonagy a little), but they will give you a sense of the kinds of ideas and approaches that contemporary psychodynamic thinkers use. The death instict, oedipus, libidinal stages, and blaming parents for all psychopathology have been disposed of. Of course, there are always rigid, unchanging types, but the mainstream psychodynamic approaches have evolved and continue to evolve.

    Another great book is Sroufe's "The Development of the Person". Sroufe is a contemporary attachment-theory developmental type. This book is a buzz in psychodynamic circles now.
     
  25. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    I was just about to suggest "Freud and Beyond" as well. It traces the development of psychoanalytic thought, describes the major concepts, and integrates case material.
     
  26. toby jones

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    "Freud and Beyond"

    Got it. Will take a bit of time to read it. I do hope I find some answers to my questions in there or I'll start to suspect people of trying to deflect my concerns by inundating me with literature...

    Sigh.

    ;-)
     
  27. toby jones

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    Well, I'm nearly through the book and it is as I suspected...

    While I'm finding it a very interesting read (thanks again for the terrific reading suggestion people) I'm finding more support than opposition for my above claims.

    As I stated there are differences between different psychoanalytic / dynamic theories. What I offered was something of a procedure for assessing the truth of claims such that psychoanalysis can progress as a science (by making claims that approximate reality).

    There is current controversy over whether there is a death instinct. At least that is what I'm getting from the book. As such, it would seem that my above post would be appropriate. It might well be the case that the majority of current theorists have dispensed with the death instinct already. The focus of my attention was converting the rest of them, however. Similar issues come up with respect to whether there is a fairly much innate agressive drive or whether agression arises from the frustration of needs.

    > Toby, perhaps you should begin with a working knowledge of the concepts you're interested (i.e. the death drive, libido, infantile aggression, etc).

    While I'll be the first to admit that I don't have a particularly detailed or thorough knowledge of the concepts involved I think that I do have a working knowledge. While I've learned a lot from the book I don't think I've learned much that is revolutionary in the sense of 'wow I completely failed to grasp / misunderstood that'.

    Of course the first mission is getting straight on the main psychoanalytic claims in order to assess them. I'm thinking of heading my thesis in this direction, actually. Do the same for cognitive psychology and kind of bounce them off one another. Don't despair if some of the main claims are false (e.g., the dynamic unconscious) as some of the main claims of cognitive psychology are similarly false (e.g., the feedforward assumption).
     
  28. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    Well, Toby, it sounds like you think you've got it all figured out...best of luck with your thesis. Tell me have you come across the "epistemophilic instinct" in your readings? It's one of my fav analytic concepts!!
     
  29. toby jones

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    > Well, Toby, it sounds like you think you've got it all figured out...

    Not at all. It is where I'm at at the moment is all and (I think) I've already demonstrated willingness to read and to engage with other peoples views.

    > Tell me have you come across the "epistemophilic instinct" in your readings? It's one of my fav analytic concepts!!

    Nope, never heard of it.

    I would (of course) be interested to know what that is about. I suppose you could suggest reading for me (which I always do appreciate) but I'd also appreciate it if you attempted to explain yourself. Sometimes the best way to get clear on your own thinking is to attempt to explain it to others, you see...
     
  30. allosteric1

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    LOL...I think MeghanHF was quit clear, he/she feels you are foolish for reading a book and thinking you now have something figured out.
     
  31. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    Darn it...I don't have a good reference for you this time ;)

    The epistemophilic instinct is a Kleinian concept that suggests sadism is a fundamental aspect of the urge to know. The general idea is that the pursuit of knowledge and the basis of our capacity for symbolization is the result of sublimated sexual and aggressive energy.
     
  32. allosteric1

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    :eek: good one...
     
  33. toby jones

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    > I think MeghanHF was quit clear, he/she feels you are foolish for reading a book and thinking you now have something figured out.

    Ah. As regards my reading I assure you I've read a great deal more than one book! So far (with respect to this forum) I've read Schore's book (and I've since read a couple of his articles that I found online that were more on disorganised attachment and trauma). I've read this article on the dynamic unconscious and the cognitive unconscious and about how the latter doesn't provide evidence for the former. I've also read 'Freud and Beyond' most recently.

    I've also read two of Kohut's books and a number of articles on more recent developments in Self Psychology. I've also read http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300080786 and summaries of the main psychoanalytic/dynamic positions in a variety of psychology and psychiatry textbooks. But I don't suppose Megan was to know any of that.

    I assure you I wouldn't attempt to write a thesis with one reference lol.

    On a related note... I really did enjoy 'Freud and Beyond' and I will indeed work my way through it making notes on a round 2. I found it to be a very readable introduction partly because it was quite limited in scope. I would be interested to know whether there is a 'meatier' textbook that attempts to do the same thing but with a bit more scope ambition (and it is okay if it assumes prior grasp of basic concpets). Thanks.
     
  34. toby jones

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    > The epistemophilic instinct is a Kleinian concept that suggests sadism is a fundamental aspect of the urge to know. The general idea is that the pursuit of knowledge and the basis of our capacity for symbolization is the result of sublimated sexual and aggressive energy.

    Hmm... I wonder what evidence she has for that. And... I wonder what alternative explanations might be available.

    What do you think about this notion that people have this sexual and agressive energy that is kind of battered into submission by the ego? That culture is about restraining desires rather than being the product of desires?

    I'm not sure.

    Is this another way of saying 'I find people who question me to be hostile and sadistic'?

    I'm kinda interested in the notion that the interpretations that people offer reveal as much (if not more) about themselves than about the object of their interpretation. (Talking about Klien and co here not you)
     
  35. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    Wonder away......

    I think it's a useful concept that requires both a lot of thought to understand the implications of and interaction with the real world.

    If this is in reference to Klein, then you've misuderstood the concept. See her work from the 1930's for a full explanation. If this is in reference to me bringing up the concept in the context of our exchanges, then you're overpersonalizing and overestimating your impact on me.

    See Gill, Stolorow, and Hoffman for discussions of one-person vs. two -person psychology, intersubjectivity and dialectical constructivism (respectively). As for your previous post requesting a "meatier text book," I suggest you read the original works and subsequent discussions of theory.
     
  36. toby jones

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    thanks for your reading suggestions (as always).

    i'm sorry you don't want to discuss these concepts / ideas with me...

    (I'm certainly up for people disagreeing with what I have to say so long as they provide reasons for their disagreement. What is hard is when people seem to write me off as failing to understand instead of actually engaging with what I've said and providing concrete examples of precisely how I've misunderstood).

    Reading is great (as always)...

    But I find discussion to be even more profitable.

    Hang on something just occured to me... Do you have sympathy for Klein's views? I mean... If there is one school or orientation within psychoanalytic / dynamic theory that you identify most with then what would it be?

    I quite like Self Psychology from the basis of my readings... But Partly it is about contingent matters of history and I could perhaps be brought around to some of the other ways of thinking. I guess I just struggle with the conflictual / hostile / waring views of human nature...
     
  37. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    Toby, I am engaging in a discussion of ideas and concepts with you. To be more overt about it, regarding the epistemophilic instinct, Klein's evidence is based on her observation of infants and clinical work with children. My understanding from previous posts of yours is that you're not interested in clinical work, so where does the discussion go now? An alternative theory of our need to know may be Bion's K, minus K and I'm sure there are some pretty juicy evolutionary theories on this as well. Tag, you're it...

    I'll respond about my sympathies and thoughts on what draws one to particular theories/modalities when I have more time.
     
  38. MeghanHF

    MeghanHF Member

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    Sorry to take so long to get back to this Toby...

    I find self psychology generally useful in case formulation and very clinically useful in terms of formulating interventions. Object Realtions theory, Klein's work in particular, informs my work with more disturbed children and adult patients but self psychology would be just as useful. I just read some work by Anne Alvarez (object relations) regarding autistic and traumatized children that blew my mind. She uses case material to demonstrate how "uncovering" and "explanatory" kinds of interpretations are not productive (can even be harmful) with borderline psychotic kids because in fact their defenses of splitting and projective identification help give them a protective base to operate from. I'm not doing her ideas justice but if you're interested, she has a book entitled Live Company (I just had to throw in a reference ;) ).

    So following up on our discussion, what are your thoughts on what drives our "need to know"?
     

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