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Mark Solms: “If the Id is conscious, where and what is ‘the unconscious’?”

Mark Solms: “If the Id is conscious, where and what is ‘the unconscious’?”

Here is a highly recommended video of Mark Solms’ presentation at the NYSPA’s Fall Conference: Neurosciences and Psychoanalysis: From Early Freud to Contemporary Practice held on October 4, 2015.

The title of the presentation is: “If the Id is conscious, where and what is ‘the unconscious’?”

Whilst we might find some arguments with what he's saying (as indicated also by the panelists’ reaction to the presentation), it nevertheless brilliantly focuses the key questions regarding the interface between neuroscience and depth psychotherapy, especially around the notion of the unconscious (which in all the attempts to apply neuroscience to psychotherapy is the crucial notion that unhelpfully drops off the back of the lorry, so this presentation is crucial).

Arguably, unless we can first clarify our ideas around the unconscious between ourselves, and then give it crucial profile in all discussions around neuroscience and therapy, there is a chance that psychotherapy as we know it is going to be marginalised not just by CBT, but by the victory march of objectifying brain and behaviour modification creeping slowly into all approaches.

Mark says as much in the introduction to his presentation: “I'm going to spend quite some time outlining the argument for the view - which I believe, as you will see, is incontrovertible - that the Id is - in fact – conscious. In the remaining time I will consider the question: where then is ‘the unconscious’? Because one of the big confusions that arose from my first presenting the idea that the Id is conscious was the notion that therefore there is no unconscious. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because all of you who are psychoanalytic clinicians of course know that this would be a nonsense.”

There is about three hours of material here, but it's a worthwhile spending the time watching it in full. There are two parts: Mark Solm’s presentation ( and then the discussion with the panellists (Wilma Bucci, Michael Morowitz, Jeremy Safran and Lew Aron):

there is some serious substance here, both in terms of the history of these ideas in psychoanalysis, and their revision in the light of modern neuroscience (as well as some amazing continuities of ideas that Freud was already on to).

For body-oriented practitioners, some of the main quotes refer to Freud’s famous formulation that ‘the ego is first and foremost a body ego’.

All of the ideas in this presentation deserve thorough exploration and discussion - it's the perfect starting point for investigating the cutting edge of our discipline, and establishing or commonalities as well as differences in relation to crucial aspects of our underlying meta- psychologies.

By |2017-03-07T19:53:51+00:00November 9th, 2015|Michael's Psychotherapy CPD Blog|0 Comments

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