From hysteria to posttraumatic stress disorder: Psychoanalysis and the neurobiology of traumatic memories

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Abstract

Memories in general, and memories of trauma in particular, are of extreme importance to psychoanalysis, and have been so for over a hundred years. To this day, traumatic memories are the focus of controversy regarding both theory and technique within the field of psychoanalysis (Hedges, 1994). Over the past few years, they have also become a subject of heated, politically charged debate in the popular media and in the general psychological and psychiatric literature. Psychoanalytic formulations of traumatic memories have come under intense scrutiny, and are sometimes unfavorably contrasted with current neurobiological and psychological formulations (Herman, 1992; Freyd, 1996). In this paper, within the framework of a case example, some of the original psychoanalytic approaches to traumatic memories are reviewed. A few recent neurobiological findings are then reviewed on the structure and function of the brain’s memory systems. Neurobiological insights into the nature of memory are used to update psychoanalytic theory regarding traumatic memories, and illustrate how they may be applied to clinical work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropsychoanalysis
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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