The rehabilitation of the drive in neuropsychoanalysis: from sexuality to self-preservation

Papoulias, Constantina and Callard, Felicity (2012) The rehabilitation of the drive in neuropsychoanalysis: from sexuality to self-preservation. In: Freuds referenzen. Kirchhoff, Christine and Scharbert, Gerhard, eds. Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin. ISBN 9783865991621. [Book Section]


The nascent field of neuropsychoanalysis positions itself as a putative bridge between psychoanalysis and the neurosciences, positioned as two ‘historically divided disciplines’ In this chapter, we address this attempt to bridge these two disciplines, through considering a particular scientific and conceptual debate that is taking place within this new field: the neuropsychoanalytic discussions of the drive (Trieb). The drive is, of course, one of the most central terms in Freud’s writings, as it represents the fundamental force animating the psychic apparatus. The writings on which we focus attempt to meld a particular set of Freudian formulations with experimental data and concepts drawn from a range of neuroscientific and allied disciplines. We argue that in doing so, the writings are committed to submitting the normative workings of the psyche to the function of self-preservation. This overarching commitment, we claim, shadows and determines both neuropsychoanalytic readings of Freud’s texts, as well as neuropsychoanalytic researchers’ discussion of neurobiological findings. As a counterpoint to the project of neuropsychoanalysis, we then turn to the writings of psychoanalyst and philosopher Jean Laplanche, whose own recastings of the Freudian oeuvre centrally engage the question of the drive. Laplanche argues that the key discovery of psychoanalysis, that of the vicissitudes of human sexuality, perverts the register of self-preservation. For Laplanche, any formulation of the drive that in some ways cleaves to psychoanalysis must, therefore contend with the vicissitudes of human sexuality and the perversion of ‘function’ that it subtends. In the course of the chapter, we focus on the neuropsychoanalytic investment in self-preservation in order to reflect on how guiding assumptions (whether explicit or implicit) underpin the approaches that those from different disciplines and epistemological starting points take to reading Freud. In so doing, we indicate how such guiding assumptions pose dangers as well as openings for interdisciplinary projects such as neuropsychoanalysis.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
Item ID: 7534
Depositing User: Dr Constantina Papoulias
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2011 11:13
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:22

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