Mark Solms

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Mark Solms[1] (born 17 July 1961, Luderitz, Namibia) is a psychoanalyst and a lecturer in neurosurgery at the St Bartholomew's Hospital and the Royal London School of Medicine, Chair of neuropsychology, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuro-Psychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.[2] He is a registrant[clarification needed] of the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC).[citation needed]

Contribution to neuro-psychoanalysis[edit]

Solms is known for his work in linking the clinical findings of psychoanalysis with knowledge generated by the neurological sciences, and is reportedly the first to have coined the phrase neuropsychoanalysis.[3] This undertaking, known today as the scientific field of neuro-psychoanalysis, is what Sigmund Freud attempted to accomplish more than a hundred years ago.

Solms' work tries to connect the theories and findings of psychoanalysis, a science of the mind (thoughts, feelings, memories, etc.), with modern neuroscientific knowledge of the anatomical structure and functioning of the brain. The renowned case of Phineas Gage, who had traumatic brain injury caused by a large tamping iron, is used to illustrate these connections. Physically Gage was recovered but his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said that he was 'no longer Gage'.[4] According to Solms, these clinical observations demonstrate that the brain and the personality are inextricable. They make it clear that the object of study in psychoanalysis is somehow intrinsically connected with the object of study of neuroscience.

Solms is a reminder to the psychoanalysis community that Sigmund Freud conceded that the chart of the deeper strata of the mind would not be completed until neuroscience will develop a method which is capable of accommodating the complex, distributed and dynamic nature of the human mental process. Furthermore, Freud, in fact, called only for a period of disciplinary independence in which psychoanalysis may proceed according to its own requirements: "after we have completed our psychoanalytic work we shall have to find a point of contact with biology".[5] According to Solms, time has arrived for the 'contact with biology' conceptualized into the realm of psychoanalysis.

The pivotal aim of Solms's work is to provide the foundation method by which psychoanalysis can rejoin with neuroscience in a way that is compatible with Freud's basic assumptions. In order to accomplish that, Solms relies on one of the major developments that has occurred since Freud's death in the branch of neuroscience, out of which psychoanalysis arose, that is the method developed by Alexander Romanovich Luria. This method enables us to identify the neurological organization of any mental function without contradicting the fundamental assumptions of psychoanalysis. Hence, a viable bridge is established between the concepts of psychology and those of anatomy and physiology and all the other branches of neurological science. Solms elaborates and formulates a new approach to investigate the deeper strata of the mind by implementing neuro-psychoanalysis thinking: "I am recommending that we chart the neurological organization of the deepest strata of the mind, using a psychoanalytic version of syndrome analysis, by studying the deep structure of the mental changes that can be discerned in neurological patients within a psychoanalytic relationship".[6]

Solms is also translating the four-volume Complete Neuroscientific Papers of Sigmund Freud, as well as completing a revision to James Strachey's translation of the Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud.[7]


  • Kaplan-Solms, K., Solms, M. (2000). Clinical Studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books.
  • Solms, M., Turnbull, O. (2002). The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience. New York.


  1. ^ "Mark Solms: Profile". UK: The Guardian. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "#316 – Exploring Neuro-Psychoanalysis with Mark Solms PhD". Shrink Rap Radio. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Mitchell, Natasha. "Freud on the couch in a brain scanner! (Sept 30, 2011)". ABC Radio National. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Harlow, J. (1868). 'Recovery from the passage of an iron bar through the head'. Massachusetts Med. Soc. Publ., 2: 329-347.
  5. ^ Freud, S. (1915e). "The unconscious", S.E. 14:161. From Solms, M., Turnbull, 2002). The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience. New York. p. 175.
  6. ^ Solms, M (1998). Preliminaries for an integration of psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Presented at a meeting of the Contemporary Freudian Group of the British Psycho-Analytical Society.
  7. ^ "Institute of Psychoanalysis Publications". Random House. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 

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