December 1, 2012
Becoming Aware of Feelings: Integration of Cognitive-Developmental,Neuroscientific and Psychoanalytic Perspectives
David A. Garfield, M.D. Rosalind Franklin University for Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School, and the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis Richard D. Lane, M.D., Ph.D. University of Arizona
One of Freud’s great insights was the discovery of psychic reality – the concept that current experience is determined by mental representations of past experiences. This insight was foreshadowed in his early work as a neurologist when he coined the term “agnosia” to refer to a failure in recognition due to an inability to mentally represent and know an external object despite intact perception. Although affect has been critical to psychoanalysis since Freud and Breuer founded the field in the mid-1890s, the clinical manifestations and the therapeutic implications of emotion with and without mental representation has been a relatively neglected area. The main thesis of our presentation is that the distinction between implicit and explicit processes, which is foundational in cognitive neuroscience, also applies to emotion and the process of becoming aware of feelings, which is so central in psychoanalytic work. Dr. Lane will begin by describing the psychological model of “levels of emotional awareness,” which holds that the ability to know one’s own emotions is a cognitive skill like any other and that individual differences in emotional awareness can be understood from a cognitive-developmental perspective. Research on emotional awareness in normative and clinical contexts will be summarized, including findings from a recent study of psychodynamic psychotherapy for panic disorder. A parallel systems-neuroscience model will also be presented supported by neuroimaging research. It will be argued that our growing neuroscientific understanding of emotion permits an extension of Freud’s legacy and an advance in neuroscience by applying the concept of agnosia to emotional awareness and deficits related to it. Dr. Garfield will then discuss the model of emotional awareness and the distinction between implicit and explicit emotional processes from a clinical psychoanalytic perspective. Case material will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on the clinical phenomena that this model helps to explain and the implications of this perspective for therapeutic technique.
Discussant: Mark Solms
at the Auditorium, New York Psychoanalytic Institute, 247 East 82nd Street, (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) New York