Regeneration: The Confluence of Psychoanalysis, Biological Science, and Literature

Journal Article or Monograph

Title: Regeneration: The Confluence of Psychoanalysis, Biological Science, and Literature: Lessons for individual treatment and organizational consultation.
Year: 2012
Authors: Hoffman, T.

The relationship between psychoanalysis and literature is well established. Clinical
treatment draws on the stories patients share with their analyst with a goal of finding
meaning. At the same time, psychoanalysis and literature mutually inform their respective
theoretical underpinnings. Freud’s use of Greek mythology (Oedipus) and German poetry
as well as the pervasive use of psychoanalytic principles in literary circles and academic
departments demonstrate this connection in action.

Recently, psychoanalysis had been forced to come to grips with modern biology,
particularly neuroscience. Although still in its infancy, ‘neuro-psychoanlysis’ seems to
verify the basic tenets of Freud’s theories in the areas of dreams, dissociation, memory,
affect regulation, and executive (ego) functions. Nonetheless, a synthesis between the
tenets of psychoanalysis and neuroscience remains elusive.

Regeneration is the title of Pat Barker’s award-winning novel in which both biological and
psychological regeneration are addressed from a literary perspective. Though clearly
not the author’s manifest intent, principles explored in Regeneration resemble the biology
governing the inability of human tissue, organs, and limbs to regenerate (in contrast to
amphibians and reptiles). In addition, despite the author’s not possessing clinical credentials,
the novel demonstrates concepts applicable to both individual therapy and organizational
consultation. Regarding the former, recently developed approaches to combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in American soldiers in Iraq bear a striking resemblance to Rivers’ treatment of WWI British soldiers. As for the latter, concepts of regenerationmay be helpful with management of organizational differentiation, de-differentiation, and change, as shown in a vignette from consultative work with a non-profit company.

Keywords: Regeneration, Psychotherapy, Organizational Consulting, Neuro-psychoanalysis
Language: English

Journal: Socioanalysis
Volume: 14
Issue: n/a
Start page: 1
End page: 11
Publisher ID:

Submitted by:
Thomas Hoffman

Corresponding author:

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