The Neuropsychology of the Unconscious: Integrating Brain and Mind in Psychotherapy
More than a hundred years after Freud began mining the depths of the human mind, the concept of the unconscious still occupies a central position in many psychotherapeutic frameworks and clinical approaches. When trying to understand clients’ internal and interpersonal struggles it is almost inconceivable not to look for unconscious motivation, conflicts, and relational patterns. Clinicians still consider it a breakthrough to recognize how during enactments our own unconscious patterns have interacted with those of our clients. Although clinicians use concepts such as the unconscious and dissociation in practice, many do not take into account the newly emerging neuropsychological attributes of such processes. As a result, assumptions and lack of clarity interfere with a more cogent and useful understanding of patients’ difficulties. This revolutionary book presents a new model of the unconscious, one that is continuing to emerge from the integration of neuropsychological research with clinical practice. Drawing from affect theory, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychological findings and a rich therapeutic experiences, the model presents an expanded picture of unconscious processes. Her model moves from the traditional focus on repression or dissociation of discreet memories and experiences to viewing the unconscious on a continuum and as giving expression to whole patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving—patterns that are so integrated and entrenched as to underpin all of our different self-states. The book explores the brain/mind’s propensity to automatically repeat whole patterns of emotions, behaviors and cognitions even when they are inappropriate and harmful. Similarly, it provides a frame for understanding the difficulties we encounter in becoming aware of internal and interpersonal reactions that are no longer adaptive. The often-experienced obstacles on the way to modify such patterns are explicated as well. With specific focus on better understanding clients’ difficulties, the various chapters discuss the clinical implications of our brain/minds’ tendencies to perceive our internal and external environments according to existing unconscious maps. The implications of the brain/mind’s predisposition to automatically enact entrenched patterns are examined as well. At the center of the suggested curative paths is the interplay between unconscious processes and reflective awareness. Consequently, the book highlights therapeutic approaches designed to utilize some of the new understandings of unconscious processes and their interaction with more conscious ones. The theoretical remapping of the unconscious is guided by the sensitivity to the nuances of intersubjective encounters, and is strengthened by clinical cases.