Book nugget: ‘Hidden Spring’ by Solms

I’ve been thinking about the concept and maybe the reality of the unconscious. If it is unconscious then how do we know anything about it? Of course Freud had his answer leading up to the Oedipus complex etc.

One interesting thing about Freud is that he started out as a neurologist but quit because the tools available at the time were inadequate to get any worthwhile facts. Fast forward to today and  mountains of data exist.

“Solms’ debt to Freud is explicit throughout his book: he sees himself as continuing Freud’s incomplete project to provide a biological account of mental life.” (1)

Wow. I thought no one was defending Freud any more. Based on what I’ve read as of today, Solms goes as far the superego/ego/id but not the Oedipus complex or more wacky Freudian illusions.

To understand Solms’ point correctly you must reference the book.

That said,  I’m going to give a short summary of the most important topic I’ve gotten from the book so far. The id is the the brainstem responsible for homeostasis. This homeostasis works in many unconscious ways – heartbeat, digestion that sort of thing. To preserve homeostasis for processes that need external senses or complex planning the brainstem sends messages to the cortex. All of what most materialists before, say 2000, called consciousness happens in the cortex – language, logic, planning etc. The cortex figures out a plan of action based on the need(s) expressed by the brainstem. 

Then! The cortex sends messages to the ‘periaqueductal gray’ PAG, another unconscious part of the brain. Only after the PAG receives the messages from the cortex does any action happen.

So… for any conscious action, the actual brain elements that are conscious (in terms of sensation, language, logic and so on) are accessed in the middle of the action by two unconscious elements of the brain.

Well. That’s what I’ve gotten so far. Maybe more later.

(1) https://neurobanter.com/2021/02/18/mixed-feelings-about-a-hard-problem-review-of-the-hidden-spring/ retreived 3/16/2021

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