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Eric Kandel on Freud and Neuroscience

"Freud is back, and not just in theory," declares Mark Solms, chair of neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town , in a feature article in the May issue of Scientific American. Purporting that neuroscientists are confirming Freud's theories with biological studies of the brain, Solms quotes University Professor and Nobel laureate Eric Kandel several times. So the Record asked Kandel for his thoughts Freud's comeback, and his answer was: Not just yet.

"If psychoanalysis is satisfied with its current position, that's fine," said Kandel. "Freud will be read like Shakespeare and Homer, as great works of literary insight. But if they want to become a science, they need to get an empirical basis. Certainly the discovery of implicit memory storage, which is the unconscious recall of information, shows a biological basis of the unconscious. Freud had some interesting notions--some of which are now in a position to be tested by neuroscience--but baby has not grown scientifically since 1910."

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Published: June 12, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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