|Attachment Theory Wendy Behary Clinical Excellence Couples Therapy David Schnarch Clinical Mastery Diets Mind/Body Trauma Etienne Wenger Brain Science Community of Excellence Mindfulness William Doherty Anxiety Mary Jo Barrett Narcissistic Clients Great Attachment Debate The Future of Psychotherapy Alan Sroufe Future of Psychotherapy CE Comments Gender Issues Couples Challenging Cases Linda Bacon Symposium 2012 Attachment Ethics Men in Therapy|
|Alice in Neuroland - Page 19|
At the dawn of the 20th century, just before World War I, Freud speculated about the contents of the black box we call the brain. To a society that still had faith in the power of human rationality and probity, he told a new story: there are aspects of the self outside conscious awareness, and a "talking cure" can help reshape them. Now that we know more about the shifting infinitude of the neurochemicals and electrical pulses that make up the brain and nervous system, his details and logic (such as the notion that depression is anger turned inward, or that nothing is an accident) seem hopelessly formulaic. But his story shaped how 20th-century human beings saw themselves. It gave them hope that a person could change, when held in a net of intimate connection with a therapist. In that intimate connection, one could illuminate one's hidden symbolic life; one could speak aloud half-remembered stories of childhood and relationship that had enslaved one; one could fashion new narratives that would lead, hopefully, to a measure of emotional liberation.
Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, brain technology is allowing us to access corners of the black box that Freud couldn't even imagine. Not coincidentally, odd and apparently effective new therapies--neurofeedback, EMDR, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Thought Field Therapy--are simultaneously gaining ground. All focus heavily on reregulating a disregulated neurophysiology. And all suggest an understanding of human identity and experience that draws little on the story- and symbol-making dimensions so essential to Freud's narrative.
Those who are informally researching neurofeedback are giving us the most subtle, highly calibrated feedback on brain processes that the human race has ever known. But we're a long way from weaving these data into a more inclusive story of psychological and human change. So far, it's clear only that the old categories--psychology, neurology, physiology, cognition, and emotion--make sense only when you're outside of the black box of the brain, imagining. But what new categories will take their place? And how will those categories interweave with notions of a good human life?
Perhaps, in a decade or so, neuroscience's discoveries will reshuffle all the categories in the DSM, making it the Diagnosistic and Statistical Manual of Emoto-Cognito-Neurophysiological Processing and Disregulation. Just as the Inuits are reputed to have dozens of words for snow, the new brain science has already pointed out the need for words to differentiate between several forms of depression that don't look alike on brain scans, and respond to different medications and neurofeedback treatments. Perhaps, on the other hand, neurofeedback will remain where it is now, somewhat outside the mainstream, practiced by a devoted coterie but dismissed as experimental by the same academic and medical authorities who once dismissed acupuncture.