Corrective biology: psychosomatics in and as neuropsychoanalysis

Callard, F. and Papoulias, C. (S.) (2019) Corrective biology: psychosomatics in and as neuropsychoanalysis. Medical Humanities, 45(2), pp. 152-161. (doi: 10.1136/medhum-2019-011645) (PMID:31217197) (PMCID:PMC6699604)

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This article analyses how and with what consequences body–mind relations (the sphere of the psychosomatic) are being modelled in the 21st century through considering the interdiscipline of neuropsychoanalysis. The promise of the term psychosomatic lies in its efforts to rework standard, bifurcated models of mind and body: somatic acts are simultaneously psychic acts. But neuropsychoanalysis, as it brings the neurosciences and psychoanalysis together to model an embodied ‘MindBrain’, ends up evacuating another potent characteristic found in much of the psychosomatic tradition—its refusal to adjudicate, a priori, what counts as the adaptive or well-regulated subject. The psychosomatic problem in psychoanalysis profoundly disturbs everyday models of functionality, adaptation and agency, by positing the psyche as an ‘other’ of the physiological within the physiological. By contrast, neuropsychoanalysis ends up parsing too easily the healthy from the pathological body, such that it is only the latter that is subject to forces that work against self-preservation and self-regulation. In so doing, neuropsychoanalysis recasts the radical problematic that the psychosomatic installed for psychoanalysis in the direction of a corrective biology. This corrective biology is given form in two ways: (1) through translating the Freudian drive—that unruly and foundational concept which addresses the difficult articulation of soma and psyche—into a series of Basic Emotion Systems modelled by the affective neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp and (2) through resituating and quarantining the troubling, non-adaptive aspects of the Freudian psyche within the domain of addiction. That easy separation between the healthy and the pathological is all too often found in current descriptions of healthcare and patient encounters. The article refuses it and calls for the revivification of other ways of thinking about how human subjects—psychosomatic organisms—find ways to live, and to die.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was funded by National Institute for Health Research and Wellcome Trust (209513/Z/17/Z).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Callard, Professor Felicity
Authors: Callard, F., and Papoulias, C. (S.)
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Medical Humanities
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1473-4265
Published Online:19 June 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Medical Humanities 45(2):152-161
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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