September 19, 2017
Aikaterini Fotopoulou, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer at the Psychoanalysis Unit, Psychology Division, University College London
will present on
The “Body-in-Relation” Self: Psychodynamic and Neural Mechanisms of Joined Salience
The notion of a socially constituted self has had many different voices in psychoanalysis , philosophy, and developmental psychology. In one view, an individual’s mind is uniquely shaped by the embodied encounter with other living beings and hence the bodily nucleus of our self is seen as intrinsically intersubjective. To paraphrase Freud’s famous description, the self is first and foremost a body-in-relation-self. This perspective has recently been taken up by the new, prolific field of Cognitive Social Neuroscience. In their attempt to describe the mechanisms by which humans bridge the gap between first-person experience (I want, I see, or, I think) and third-person observation (she feels, he sees, they think) most studies in this field debate whether first-person experience (via identification/ simulation/ the mirror neuron system) or third-person experience (via mentalizing/ theory of mind) is primary in understanding other minds and one’s own. Taking inspiration from certain approaches in psychoanalysis and phenomenology, as well as recent computational models in the neurosciences, I will present a set of studies that instead highlight the role of the 2nd-person perspective in embodied consciousness. We have particularly focused on the psychological and neural mechanisms by which our bodily feelings are influenced by internalised social expectations, on-line interactions with other people and neuropeptides known to enhance social cognition. These studies point to unique neural mechanisms by which our bodies are interpersonally ‘mentalized’ to form the basis of our selves.
Discussant: Mark Solms, Ph.D.
New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium