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How pleasure works

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 5:43 PM Comments comments (102)
Prof Bloom suggests that the pleasure we derive from art, food, wine, objects is enhanced by our knowledge of its history - the context in which it was created and the level of effort that was invested in it. Prof. Bloom gives many examples including that of a painting attributed to Vermeer which used to draw masses of viewers when it was first exhibited, only to be completely dismissed when it was found out it was in fact a forgery. Another example is of a famous violinist who placed in an underground subway failed to attract any attention or make more money than an ordinary busker. 

Bloom is a professor of psychology at Yale University and a developmental researcher.  His research addresses how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art.

This lecture was presented by Prof. Paul Bloom at the Chicago Humanities Festival. View it here. 

Yale Lectures - Prof. Paul Bloom's Introduction to Biology

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 6:16 PM Comments comments (104)
Lecture 3: Freud 

Youtube description: "This lecture introduces students to the theories of Sigmund Freud, including a brief biographical description and his contributions to the field of psychology. The limitations of his theories of psychoanalysis are covered in detail, as well as the ways in which his conception of the unconscious mind still operate in mainstream psychology today."

00:00 - Chapter 1. Sigmund Freud in a Historical Context
06:51 - Chapter 2. Unconscious Motivation: The Id, Ego and Superego
13:45 - Chapter 3. Personality Development and Psychosexual Development
20:32 - Chapter 4. Defense Mechanisms, the Aims of Psychoanalysis, Dreams
29:11 - Chapter 5. Question and Answer on Freud's Theories
32:55 - Chapter 6. Controversies and Criticisms on Freud's Theories
42:10 - Chapter 7. Examples of the Unconscious in Modern Psychology
51:55 - Chapter 8. Further Question and Answer on Freud

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website:

This course was recorded in Spring 2007.

The conscious Id

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (94)
The conscious Id - lecture delivered at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute

1. How the body is represented in the brain. 

The 'external' body 

There are two aspects of the body that are present in the brain and they are represented differently. The first is the 'external body' - the somato-topic body image, a map of the body represented on the surface of the brain in a point-to-point fashion. It is derived from the classical sensory receptors distributed over the surface of the body and projected on the surface of the brain. The body image is constructed out of a convergence, a hetero-modal conjoining of different exteroceptive sensory projections zones. The part of the brain which represents our external body also represents in the same manner all external objects. The external body is in other words an object, perceived in the same way that we perceive the external world. The motor projection zone, the motor-homunculus is also part of the map of body, in this case the muscular and  skeletal body which gives effect to our voluntary movements. All voluntary movements give rise to sensations - there is kinesthetic and proproceptive change as we make a movement. 

The 'internal' body 

The internal milieu is represented deeper in the brain. These brain structures monitor the vegetative or autonomic states of the body. The brain representations of this part of the body function largely automatically but they also arouse the representation of the external body to serve the vital needs of the internal body in the outside world. There is a hierarchical interdependence between the two different aspects of the body as they are represented in the brain. These two different aspects of the body each generate very different types of consciousness. The interoceptive aspect of the brain gives rise to states of consciousness, the sort of background awareness, the 'page' on which the words of consciousness are written. 

States of the body as 'subject' involve not only levels of consciousness like 'sleep' versus 'wakefulness' but also qualities of consciousness. Interoceptive consciousness is intrinsically affective - emotional. Affect is the modality of interoceptive perception, by which we qualify our interoceptive states of awareness. The key note  is registered in the pleasure/unpleasure series (associated with the periaqueductal gray). These affective states tell us what is 'good' and what is 'bad', biologically speaking. Consciousness evolved to enable us to attribute 'good' and 'bad' valences to our experience. External experience does not need to be conscious - this is evident in 'blind sight', where visual awareness is transmitted to lower brain structures, and the patients are able to navigate spacially on the basis of this unconscious sense of vision. Consciousness 'colours' external perception and attributes value to it. 

The motor aspect of the pleasure/unpleasure series is approach/avoidance behaviour. Arising from the periaqueductal gray  (PAG) and ascending to the lymbic system there are different motivational circuits. These are also known as the circuits for the basic emotions. Each one of these has a motor stereotype attached to it, which is necessary for survival and reproductive success. Examples: foraging behaviour, copulating behaviour, aggressive attack, nurture and grooming, attaching to a maternal object, freezing and fleeing. Each of these basic aspects or instincts, has a particular feeling state attached to it, this is a higher elaboration of affect than what happens at the basic level of the PAG. Feelings like fear, anger, separation distress (panic), are basic instinctive emotions which are hard-wired (unconditioned responses) into particular circuits of the brain. They are not things that we learn, they are things that we inherit - ways of feeling and ways of acting that are our phylogenetic inheritance. There is a great chemical specificity to these basic instinctual/emotional circuits. They give rise to associative learning in the process of early experience. 

3. Exteroceptive Ego, Interoceptive Id

It is easy to recognise these two aspects of the body in the Freudian metapsychology. The external body is represented in the Ego, the internal body in the Id. "The ego is first and foremost a bodily ego; it is not merely a surface entity, but is itself the projection of a surface. If we wish to find an anatomical analogy for it we can best identify it with the 'cortical homunculus' of the anatomists (...) (Freud, The Ego and the Id). 
"the ego is ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly those springing from the surface of the body. It may be this be regarded as a mental projection of the surface of the body (...)" (Freud, Footnote to the Ego and the Id)

About the bodily origin of the Id, Freud wrote this: "The id, cut off from the external world, has a world of perception of its own. It detects with extraordinary acuteness certain changes in its interior, especially oscillations in the tensions of its instinctual needs, and these changes become conscious as feelings in the pleasure-unpleasure series. It is hard to say, to be sure, by what means and with the help of what sensory terminal organs these perceptions come about. But it is an established fact that self-perceptions-coenaesthetic feelings and feelings of pleasure-unpleasure- govern the passage of events in the id with despotic force. The id obeys the inexorable pleasure principle". (Freud, 1939)

"An instinct (in the original "Trieb", meaning drive) appears to us as a concept on the frontier between mental and the somatic, as the psychical representative of the stimuli originating from within the organism and reaching the mind, as a measure of the demand made upon the mind for work in consequence of its connection with the body" (Freud, 1915) 

"And what is an affect in the dynamic sense? It is in any case something highly composite. An affect includes in the first place particular motor innervations or discharges and secondly certain feelings; the latter are of two kinds - perceptions of the motor actions that have occurred and the direct feelings of pleasure and unpleasure, which, as we say, give the affect its keynote. But I do not think that with this enumeration we have arrived at the essence of an affect. We seem to see deeper in the case of some affects and to recognize that the core which holds the combination we have described together in the repetition of some particular significant experience. This experience could only be a very early impression of a very general nature, placed in the prehistory not of the individual but the species. (Freud, 1916-1917)

3. The exteroceptive fallacy

This parallelism between exteroceptive and interoceptive brain mechanisms on the one hand and Ego and Id on the other, gives rise to a radical revision of Freud's metapsychology. Freud never questioned the classical neuro-behavioural assumption that consciousness was a cortical function. "It will be seen that there is nothing daringly new in these assumptions; we have merely adopted the views on localization held by cerebral anatomy, which locates the 'seat' of consciousness in the cerebral cortex- the outermost, enveloping layer of the central organ." (Freud, 1923) 

Freud understood that consciousness also entailed an interoceptive affective dimension. "I believe we can say that Freud's insights on the nature of affect are consonant with the most advanced contemporary neuroscience views." (Damasio, 1999) 

In making the assumption that consciousness is cortical, Freud was following a long tradition, which continues today. "When electrical stimuli applied to the amygdala of humans elicit feelings of fear, it is not because the amygdala 'feels' fear, but instead because the various networks that the amygdala activates ultimately provide working memory with inputs that are labeled as fear. This is all compatible with the Freudian notion that conscious emotion is the awareness of something that is basically unconscious." (LeDeux, 1999) (This is the read-out theory of emotions) 

The latest incarnation of this tradition is the theory of Bud Craig. He believes that there is a primary cortical projection zone for the internal body, and this projection zone is in the cortex, in the posterior aspect of the insula. This posterior insula Bud Craig describes as the basis for self-consciousness (awareness of the self). 

4. Consciousness without cortex
Recent research demonstrates unequivocally that the cortical-centric view of consciousness and the self are wrong. According to the theory above, a patient with a completely obliterated insula should, lack subjective selfhood, he should lack the page upon which consciousness is 'written', but this is not the case. Damasio (2011) interviewed such a patient, who retained a sense of self.

High-brain encephaly, condition in which the child is born with no cortex whatsoever, usually due to a cerebro-vascular event in utero. As result of this stroke in the womb the higher part of the brain fails to develop at all. Bjorn Merker (2007) has a lot of experience working with many such patients. "These children are not only awake and alert, but show responsiveness to their surroundings in the form of emotional or oriental reactions to environmental events, most readily to sounds, but also to salient visual stimuli. They express pleasure by smiling and laughter and aversion by fussing, arching of the back and crying in many gradations their faces being animated by these emotional states. The familiar adult can employ this responsiveness to build play sequences (...)." 

5. Consciousness is endogenous

There is in the cases of high-brain encephaly severe degradation in the type of consciousness that are associated or derived from the external body. By contrast, the background 'page' of consciousness, the raw phenomenal self onto which object experience is written is fully present. The body as subject is fundamentally intact, as is instinctual affect and motivation. The only intact ego function in these cases seems to be a rudimentary form of associative, implicit learning derived from unconscious perception impacting on their instincts. It seems that all cortico-centric views of consciousness are wrong, Freud's included. 

If consciousness is not cortical, where is it generated? Basic states of consciousness like wakefulness versus sleep are regulated in sub-cortical structures (brain-stem), as are states of vigilance and arousal. Cases of lesions to these structures have demonstrated the veracity of this view. When damage occurs in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) consciousness is obliterated entirely. PAG is the smallest area of brain that needs to be lesioned in order to totally obliterate consciousness. We also know from epilepsy studies that consciousness is generated in the upper brain-stem regions. Penfield (1954) observed that seisures occurring cortically only impair one aspect of consciousness. It is only when they reach central-cephalic structures in the upper brain-stem that consciousness is lost. 

All that is new is the realisation by people like Panksepp and Damasio that conscious states generated by these upper brain-stem functions are intrinsically affective or emotional. Consciousness is generated in the part of the mind that is driven by our internal bodily needs that activates instinctual motivational behaviours that are innate, hard wired (Id). Ego consciousness is derived from the Id, not the other way around. This is important, because it turns the talking cure on its head. For Freud, the value of words is their exteroceptive origin, their capacity to extend consciousness downwards. All the evidence points in the opposite direction. 

6. Mental solids (object representations). 

Representations of the actual world, that are stored in the cortex. They can be activated both externally and internally. They serve both perception and cognition (recognition). Such processes are unconscious in themselves. It's only when they are engaged by upper brain-stem consciousness that they come to mind. What renders objects conscious is their incentive salience to us - their biological relevance in the pleasure-unpleasure series. 

Inhibitory constraints are required. Inhibition of actions entails toleration of frustration - that is an overriding the pleasure principle but more efficient and secure satisfaction of biological imperatives is achieved this way. Thinking is interposed between drives and action (working memory - trial action).

7. The reflexive ego

The external body representation represents 'me' as an object, experienced like other objects. It is a re-presentation of the subject, not the subject itself. We experience the illusion that the body is the locus of our consciousness. The body 'owns' the self the same way the child projects itself in the animated avatars in a computer games. These self-representations rapidly come to be treated by the child as if they really were the child itself. Kover and Ersen (2008) - performed body-swap experiments, in which a camera on the forehead of a mannequin (a false body) being projected into the goggles worn by an experimental body rapidly creates the illusion in the subject that the mannequin is their body. They come to feel it as being 'my body'. They are projected into being this mannequin robotic body. The objectivity of the illusion is demonstrated by the fact that fear responses can be elicited in the subject by threatening the false body with a knife.

This illusion is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion' in which the real hand is screened from view and the rubber hand is placed at the elbow. Both the real hand and the rubber hand are stroked simultaneously but only the rubber hand is seen. The subject rapidly comes to feel that the rubber hand is the real hand. (Also see 'phantom-limb phenomena). These phenomena demonstrate that the bodily self of everyday experience is an acquired representation - a memory image. fMRI studies show that 'bits' can be added or extracted from the cortical homunculi easily (the locus of Freud's bodily ego).The ephemary nature of the sensory motor homunculi is also demonstrated by the motor neuron phenomena. They are neurons which fire in the pre-motor cortex when we perform a certain movement. They also fire when we watch someone else perform the same movement. From the point of view of these neurons exactly the same thing is happening, it makes no difference which one is making the movement. How do we come to know which movement is ours (belongs to this object called 'my body') as opposed to that object called 'her body'. How do we tell the difference? 

Vittorio Galesi suggests that in the prefrontal cortex additional inhibitory activity occurs which makes the distinction, when it is not 'me' performing the movement. Interestingly this does not happen in schizophrenic subjects. So in this respect the differentiation between 'self' and 'other' is controlled by the prefrontal lobe. In the primary process mode there is no distinction between self and object representations. Second order re-representation enables the subject to differentiate between 'self' and 'other objects'. It can re-represent itself as "me seeing something separate from myself". This "me doing things" is felt to be the agent of everyday experience. The gap between the primary phenomenal consciousness emanating from the Id and the secondary re-representation is illustrated in the experiments of Benjamin Libet, which show that there is a lag half a second between the subjects making a movement and  thinking I am going to make the move now. (Subjects start making the movement before they are consciously 'deciding' to execute it). He interpreted this to mean "we unconsciously decide to make the movement before we consciously decide to make the movement". 

This declarative self generated by higher-order re-representations is also felt to be the agent of episodic memory. The whole trend of the secondary process is to reduce surprise, to increase predictability and automaticity and thereby to decrease consciousness, to transform declarative, explicit cognitions into non-declarative, implicit cognitions, to minimise the need for the affective presence of the Id. 

8. If the Id is conscious... 
All this has massive implications for freudian metapsychology, including the metapsychology of the talking cure. "Where id was, there ego shall be" (Freud, 1933, New Introductory Lectures). 

The nature of communication in the talking cure.

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 6:36 PM Comments comments (106)

Mark Solms is the director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuro-Psychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute; a lecturer at the University College Londons Department of Psychology; a consultant in neuropsychology at the Anna Freud Center in London; and an honorary lecturer in the Academic Department of Neurosurgery at St. Bartholomews and the Royal London School of Medicine. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Solms has been the driving force in establishing the new field of neuro-psychoanalysis, which brings together the fields of neuroscience and psychoanalysis.

What is the nature of communication between the analyst and the patient 

Defining psychoanalysis as "the talking cure" is somewhat misleading, a misnomer. We have the mystical-sounding phrase from Freud about the communication from the unconscious of the patient to the unconscious of the analyst. We speak of empathic attunement and projective identification as a form of communication between patient and analyst, which is reflected in the countertransference. The nature of communication in the analytic room somehow fails to be conveyed in the words that are transcribed down from a recording of the analytic session. Something goes on inside of the patient and the analyst in parallel with the talking which cannot be readily captured. 

The building blocks of the meaning-making process. 

The most rudimentary form of a conscious thing that stands for something occurs within ourselves about ourselves, to ourselves. Communication is communication of meaning. The best theory that we are working with revolves around the notion that consciousness originates in structures within the very deep core of our brain stems. These structures which project very widely to the forebrain, are representing aspects of the state of ones self, the subjective state, the visceral bodily state. This state of self is meaningfully being represented as a feeling of consciousness which either feels good or bad. Action tendencies are intrinsically interwoven to these feeling states. Pleasurable feelings are associated with approach behaviours, they motivate approach behaviours. 

Negative/painful feelings are associated with avoidance behaviours. These raw feeling states originate in the periaqueductal gray (PAG). Even in such elementary forms of consciousness, something is conveyed but not necessarily intentionally. We see that in herd-contagion behaviour. 

The approach mechanism is essentially a seeking mechanism. It has to do with detecting needs that can only be met in the outside world. It is almost an implicit predictive mechanism: "Unless I go looking for food, I am not going to survive". The feeling that comes with it is mildly optimistic, mildly curious - "something good is going to happen and I want to be there kind of feeling". Freud defined emotions as "mnemic residues of biological situations of universal significance". The universality of significance makes us all know what it means when we see it. Basic emotion systems link our core consciousness to the outside world and those around us. Emotions are a perceptual modality, they are a medium of consciousness just as vision, smell, hearing are a medium of consciousness.  

When another animal (human) feels something and another sees it, hears it, smell it (there are all sorts of ways in which the state of an animal is conveyed) then one knows what the other animal is feeling. These are things which we can't afford to learn, they are "mnemic residues" - we just know what it means, although we may not be able to demonstrate. Empathic knowing When I see that experience it activates the same system in me. I know what it is because it is activated in me. Mirror-neurons allow a higher level elaboration of this basic system. Mirror-neurons were accidentally discovered in a research lab in Italy. When a monkey with a brain activity recording device on its brain observes another monkey eating a banana, the same areas in the brain of the observing monkey are activated. There is a mirroring of the motor-neuron activity in the acting monkey, which is activated in the brain of the perceiving monkey. 

The prefrontal cortex allows for a suppression of the basic emotional systems, inhibiting the action tendencies associated with them. They enable us to not have to act on the feeling, to create virtual scenarios, to represent the relation between things. A 'non-doing' kind of thinking evolves - a highly abstracted, symbolic thinking removed from the emotional core. It is our 'pride and joy' but the price is that it alienates us from our feelings. We develop this curious inability to know what is driving our own actions. 

In therapy the analyst is taught to listen with his "third ear", with an evenly suspended attention. The analyst does not listen to the words, because they only convey part of the story - she picks something up, she feel something, which is akin to a biological situation with universal significance. This way we recognise the patient's emotional configuration, and we use the words to convey our understanding. The talking cure is not about the talking - the talking is about feelings. 

Brain affective systems

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (110)
Jaak Panksepp Ph.D: "Ancestral Memories: Brain Affective Systems, Ancient Emotional Vocalizations, and the Sources of Our Communicative Urges." Over the last 35 years, Dr. Panksepp has almost singlehandedly created the field of affective neuroscience. His book, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundation of Human and Animal Emotions, is the definitive textbook for the field. He is the Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science at Washington State University, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University, and the author of A Textbook of Biological Psychiatry.

Compassion Based CBT workshop with Prof Paul Gilbert

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 12:09 PM Comments comments (0)
This is a workshop delivered by Prof Paul Gilbert at Palo Alto University in 2013 about the scientific premise and technique of Compassion Focused Therapy. 

Overview of Compassion Focused Therapy and the process of change with compassion. 

CFT is a psychological model, although it uses elements of CBT, humanistic and psychodynamic therapies. CFT started with Prof Gilbert's interest in patients who were struggling with standard therapies (diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder). These patients were focused on shame and self-criticism, which is linked to poor outcomes. He wanted to understand evolutionary mechanisms which maintained emotional problems. 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy traditionally focuses on replacing on unhelpful thoughts and behaviour with helpful thoughts and behaviour. However some clients say they see the logic of the alternative thoughts but do not feel reassured or helped at the emotional level. They also say: "I know I am not to blame but I still feel to blame"

We need to feel congruent emotion in order for our thoughts to be meaningful to us. Emotions "tag" meaning onto experiences. In order to be reassured by the thought "I am loveable", this needs to be linked with the experience of 'being loveable'. Many patients who come from traumatic backgrounds have few memories of being loveable or soothed and thus may struggle to feel reassured and safe by alternative thoughts. 

Compassion focused therapy targets the activation of the soothing system so that it can be more readily accessed and used to help regulate threat-based emotions of anger, fear, disgust and shame. 

Evolutionary model of psychopathology 

We are an emergent species in the 'flow of life' so our brains, with their mechanisms for motives, emotions and competencies are products of evolution, designed to function in certain ways. 

Anxiety disorders are related to how cognitions trigger innate defences - fight, flight, demobilisation (Marks, 1987) or danger modes (Beck, 1996)

Depressions are related to evolved mechanisms for coping with defeats and loss (Beck, 1987; Gilbert, 1992)

Personality disorders are related to the under or over development of innate strategies (e.g. cooperation vs. competition) (Beck, Freeman et al. 1990; Gilbert, 1987)

The social circumstances of our lives, over which we have no control, have major implications for the kinds of minds we have, the way our genes become expressed, the kids of brains we end up with, the kind of person we become, the values we endorsed and the lives we live. 

How new psychologies emerged in the world
500 mil years ago - Reptilian psychology (territory, fear, aggression, sex, hunting)
120 mil years ago - Mammalian psychology (capacity for caring, group, alliance building, play, status)
2 mil years ago - Human psychology emerged (capacity for symbolic thought and self-identity, theory of mind, meta-cognition)
1 mil years ago - Human capacity for extended caring (looking after the old or the sick) 

Why we have complex brains and minds that are difficult to understand and regulate

The Old Brain: Emotions (anger, anxiety, sadness, joy, lust); Behaviours (fight, flight, withdraw, engage) Relationships (sex, status, attachment, tribalism)
New Brain: Imagination, fantasise, look back and forward, collating and integrating vast amounts of information from different modalities- sensory emotional, plan, ruminate. 
Social Brain: Need for affection and care 

The brain has a number of built-in biases. Biased learning (fear of snakes, heights). Biases can be implicit or explicit. We tend to be self-focused, kin-focused and exhibit in-group preferences. 

We have a capacity to become aware of being awareness. Mindfulness is the capacity to observe one's mind and it naturally calms us down. Compassion comes is a motivating system rooted in the caring system. Compassion has to be understood as an interaction - it depends also on the other being responsive to being cared for. 

The mind is primarily a social signalling system (See Tronick's 'still face' experiment, Joseph Campos experiment on the role of non-verbal communication guiding behaviour in babies) 

Humans have fundamentally have a desire to be helpful( Warneken and Tomasello experiments in compassion in babies). 

Evolutionary functional analysis 

There are three types of emotions, which act as motivators: 
-those that focus on threat and self-preservation
-those that focus on doing and achieving 
-those that focus on contentment and feeling safe. 

The threat system is the dominant system in your brain. It is designed to over-rule and switch off everything else. Attention becomes narrow-focused, scans for threats, moves towards thinking about what could go wrong. In anger and anxiety the body feelings overlap. Borderline patients are not able to distinguish between tension and anxiety. 

Compassion in the brain

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 4:52 PM Comments comments (93)
Professor Paul Gilbert gives the Meng Wu lecture at CCARE (Stamford University). He is currently developing the Compassionate Mind Training Mind programme in the UK. In this lecture Prof Gilbert describes the interaction of three different types of affective regulator system: the drive/seeking system, the threat system and the affiliative (care) system. Prof Gilbert has developed a training programme to support clients from shifting from the threat system into the care system, by expanding their ability for compassion. 

Prof Gilbert comes from a tradition (clinical psychology), which understands compassion as primarily a cognitive and motivational process. The attributes of compassion are: sensitivity, care, non-judgement, empathy (understood here as perspective taking), distress tolerance and sympathy (understood here as the ability to feel the pain of another). 

Compassion can be seen as a brain-organising process. His research suggests that compassion can be increased through the training of particular skills: 
Attention - Choosing to pay attention to what is helpful to us, to the positive things that happen to us and turn attention away from the negatives (we are more inclined to focus on the negative) 
Imagery - Being able to activate an internal nurturing Parent. Soothing self-talk. 
Reasoning - "Compassion isn't stupid". It's important that we are able to reason and reflect, standing back and understanding things, thinking about the wider picture, not just about our immediate circle of concern. 
Behaviour - The behaviours of compassion are often courageous. Doing the things one needs to do in order to flourish. Paying attention to one's breathing, one's tone of voice, one's posture (all of which stimulate the vagal system). Feeling the anger but not reaching for the hammer. 
Feeling - Enhancing positive, warm feelings, kindness. Expanding our window of affective tolerance. Descent into suffering, pain, anger but not being overwhelmed by it. The point of mind-training is not to get rid of feelings. 

Effectiveness of Psychodynamic psychotherapy

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 11:02 AM Comments comments (95)
A 2010 study by Johnathan Shedler of University of Colorado about the efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherpy, published in the American Psychologyst. Available in PDF format here:

A postmodern take on transactional analysis

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 12:43 PM Comments comments (0)
Reading the work of psychiatrist and transactional analyst James R. Allen gives me great pleasure as I discover a knowledgeable and nuanced and autonomous thinker who seamlessly incorporates science and hermeneutics. In the article "Yeastlings" Allen uses the metaphor of rising dough to signify "the quiet pockets of transformation" in transactional analysis paradigm. He is talking about a shift from Berne's modernist project to a postmodern transactional analysis.  The article is available from the USATAA website. 

Not Knowing is the Royal Road to Feeling Both a Shameful Fool and Creative Healer

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 10:26 AM Comments comments (2)
A moving article by psychiatrist and psychotherapist Robert Lewis asking:  "How does one both be the  responsible healer who maintains the frame and the wounded healer inside the frame with the wounded  patient? In some ways, one hopes to embody a presence, not unlike that of the parent who both takes responsibility for his child and yet remembers that the child (patient) knows at least as much about where  your journey together must go."