A Neuropsychoanalytic Perspective: What is Depression for?


  • Mark Solms


As a psychoanalyst, I believe that conscious mental phenomena (such as feelings) are not epiphenomenal to the workings of the brain. Feelings evolved for good biological reasons; they make specific, concrete contributions to (unconscious) brain functioning. Notwithstanding all the philosophical complexities (see Solms 1997) the interactions between these consciousness and unconscious functions are, in my view, causal interactions. That is to say, feelings matter; they do something. The tendency of modern neuroscientists (and biological psychiatrists) to marginalize consciousness in relation to how the brain works is likely to lead them badly astray. Here I illustrate this view by trying to address the question: what is depression for?


Mark Solms

Born in Namibia and educated in South Africa. He trained first in neuroscience and then in psychoanalysis (at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London). He has spent his professional life trying to bridge the considerable gap between these two disciplines. He currently occupies the chair in Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town and is president of the South African Psychoanalytic Association. He is best known for his research into the brain mechanisms of dreaming and for his Freud scholarship.




Solms, M. (2011). A Neuropsychoanalytic Perspective: What is Depression for?. Psychotherapie-Wissenschaft, 1(2), 85–93. Abgerufen von https://psychotherapie-wissenschaft.info/article/view/226