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Cognitive Science and the Unconscious

Edited by Dan J. Stein, M.D., Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-498-5
  • Item #8498

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Can a worthwhile exchange be set up between the seemingly opposing viewpoints of psychoanalytic therapy and cognitive science? Stein and the other contributing authors of Cognitive Science and the Unconscious say yes. In fact, it is their contention that such an interchange of theory and method—combining the theoretical clarity and empirical rigor of cognitive science with the richness and complexity of clinical work—holds the promise of enriching both disciplines. The concept of unconsciousness, as variously conceived by psychoanalysis (The Unconscious) and cognitive science (unconscious processing), is the reference point of this dialogue.

Written by a distinguished group of researchers and clinicians, this volume examines those aspects of the unconscious mind most relevant to the psychiatric practitioner, including unconscious processing of affective and traumatic experience, unconscious mechanisms in dissociative states and disorders, and cognitive approaches to dreaming and repression. Although cognitive psychology forms the backbone of the book, many of the chapters illuminate relevant work from the fields of artificial intelligence, linguistics, and biology.


  • Foreword. Introduction: cognitive science and the unconscious. Psychoanalytic and cognitive conceptions of the unconscious. Conscious and unconscious memory: a model of functional amnesia. How unconscious metaphorical thought shapes dreams. What neural network studies suggest regarding the boundary between conscious and unconscious mental processes. Rethinking repression. Dissociated cognition and disintegrated experience. Cognitive psychodynamics: the clinical use of states, person schemas, and defensive control processes theories. Index.

About the Authors

Dan J. Stein, M.B., is Director of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg, South Africa.

[A] very readable introduction, and should be of interest to students, clinicians and psychotherapy researchers seeking to orientate themselves to this significant emerging field.—Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

Characterized by broad coverage of the discipline and an unusually high quality of writing, the eight chapters that comprise this book are sure to be well received and widely cited by clinicians and researchers whose interests touch upon the role of unconscious processes in human mental life. . . . The volume will serve as an excellent introduction to this area of research, even for clinicians unfamiliar with the myriad theoretical models and sundry methodological quandaries that characterize this field today. . . . Stein's book stands as a noteworthy contribution in an important and controversial area of research. It will interest a wide audience of practitioners and researchers, and should stimulate continued investigation of this important issue.—The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

This timely edited book explores conscious and unconscious processing from both cognitive science and psychoanalytic perspectives. . . . Recommended for upper-division undergraduates, and of particular interest to clinical practitioners because it addresses the fundamental issue of unconscious processing of affective and traumatic information.—Choice

Dr. Dan Stein, one of the world's premier cognitive theoreticians, has gathered a number of experts to produce an outstanding and important book on cognitive science and the unconscious. Though the two fields have not yet advanced so far that we can speak of a 'marriage' between psychoanalysis and cognitive science, Stein's book will serve beautifully as the engagement that must precede such a marriage. Clinicians and researchers of all orientations will find this book illuminating and rewarding.—Michael H. Stone, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons University, New York, New York

Cognitive Science and the Unconscious attempts to bridge the historical chasm between cognitive science and psychodynamic theory and practice. . . . The authors convincingly argue that age-old psychoanalytic notions such as repression and functional amnesia can be reframed utilizing the scientifically studied concepts of cognitive psychology. . . . The thought-provoking writing facilitates the adoption of new perspectives while revisiting the cornerstones of psychoanalytic thought. This volume takes initial steps toward the integration of two previously polarized fields of psychological inquiry and practice. . . . Volumes such as this one guard against complacency and facilitate the refinement of our psychological theories and models of practice.—Nancy J. Keuthen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology (Psychiatry), Harvard Medical School , Cambridge, Massachusetts

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