Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry


Volumes of research have been accumulated over the past decade concerning hemispheric specialization of the human brain. Likewise, over the past century, psychoanalysts have painstakingly unraveled through their clinical observation many of the mysteries of intrapsychic functions. Yet little has been written concerning attempts to integrate these seemingly divergent viewpoints.

It was Freud's hope that a neural basis for his clinical observations and psychological explanations of the human mind would eventually be established . This was not possible in his day, however, so this idea was gradually abandoned. With the advent of computers and high technology, perhaps it is time for a reexamination of this premise. For example, Position Emission Tomography, with its unique ability to observe the brain in action via the brain's metabolic utilization of radioactively labeled glucose may open as yet und reamed of frontiers in the neurosciences. The technological advances being used to unlock the mysteries of the brain may also be able to help elucidate the secrets of human behavior.

Indeed, psychiatry has benefited from the technology of the latter half of this century. The wide acceptance and usage of psychotropic medications attests to t his fact. Yet, dynamic psychiatry and biological psychiatry have very little points of intersection. There seems to be no cross fertilization of ideas and methods. This can only be to the detriment of both practitioners and their patients.

This paper is an attempt to reconcile two seemingly unrelated areas, i.e., hemi spheric specialization of the human brain and psychoanalytic use of dreams, their interpretation and free association. It is hoped that through the examinat ion of these well established psychoanalytic techniques that they may be seen in a somewhat different perspective, the laterality paradigm. In many ways it echoes traditional psychoanalytic concepts and may represent the neuropsychological underpinnings of what Freud so astutely observed about the nature of the human psyche. Hopefully, the psychoanalytic and laterality perspectives can mutually enhance each other and through this enhancement , help further unlock and uncover the mysteries of the human brain and its functioning.

We will initially consider the function of the cerebral hemispheres in the human brain both in the adult and child. Likewise the role of the corpus callosum will be examined, primarily from a developmental perspective. From there, the psychoanalytic principles mentioned above will be discussed.

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