Sunday, March 28, 2021

Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.

We're now into section five of a larger project that’s intended to be a ‘Student’s Resource for Defending Physical Reality.’  In this third chapter of my introduction to Dr. Mark Solms, Ph.D.( #1, #2 ), I provide a bibliography of his insightful publications (books & scientific papers) which explain the basis for bringing the study of our human consciousness, and the so-called Mind-Body Problem, into the realm of sober, physical reality respecting, evolution appreciating, science.  (Incidentally, thereby putting the lie to the claim that meta-physical outside agents are needed to explain and understand human consciousness.)

This list is not complete by any stretch, but it is an impressive introductory sampling, and it’s intended to serve as a reference that’s guaranteed to inform, perhaps inspire, the serious student, along with serious enthusiasts of science.  People interested in better understanding how Earth’s evolution made us who we are. 

 …  (Continued at the end of this bibliography)

Dr. Mark Solms, PhD.

Professor of Neuropsychology


Born district of Lüderitz, Namibia, July 17, 1961

The International Neuropsychoanalysis Society

Co-chairs, Mark Solms with Cristina Alberini

Google Scholar list of Dr. Solms' scientific papers

Solms-Delta Wine Estate

Franschhoek Valley, South Africa

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Dr Mark Solms, Ph.D. (WITS)

University of Cape Town, Department of Psychology

Background and research interests

  • Brain mechanisms of dreaming, emotion, motivation.
  • Psychological mechanisms of confabulation and anosognosia syndromes.

Teaching responsibilities - Neuropsychology – Research and Clinical.

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Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute  Mark Solms PhD

Psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist.


Dr. Solms holds the position of Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital (Departments of Psychology and Neurology) and is the President of the South African Psychoanalytical Association. He is also Research Chair of the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Dr. Solms founded the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society in 2000 and was a Founding Editor (with Ed Nersessian) of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis. He is Director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, a Trustee of the Neuropsychoanalysis Fund in London, and Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Trust in Cape Town.

Dr. Solms’ Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis can be viewed here.

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Regarding Mark Solms South African Farm and dealing with a history social injustice

Jill Choder-Goldman interviews Mark Solms, August 2019.

“I started to realise that the first thing is not to impulsively, concretely enact something, but rather just sitting with it and letting it be the ugly thing that it is, until you start to see what the nature of the thing is,” says Mark Solms.

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What is Neuropsychoanalysis?

Turnbull Lab, Prifysgol Bangor University, Wales, U.K.

The term 'neuropsychoanalysis' was first used in the late 1990s by Mark Solms, as the title of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis

The journal was founded with the aim of reconciling psychoanalytic and neuroscientific perspectives on the mind-based on the assumption that these two historically divided disciplines are ultimately pursuing the same task: understanding the nature of the mental apparatus (or mind-brain, or whichever term one might choose to use). I have been co-Editor of the journal since 2002, and have especially worked to increase the empirical aspects of our work - broadly defined as experimental findings or case reports (as opposed to theoretical/speculative papers.)

The International Neuropsychoanalysis Society was founded in 2000, at a remarkable congress held in London. 

The Society seeks to bring together those who have a shared intrest in neuroscience and psychoanalysis: a diverse group of scientists and clinicians, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and the like. The Society is jointly led by Mark Solms and Jaak Panksepp. I have been Secretary of the Society since its foundation. …

Shanti Shanker

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Selected Publications by Dr. Solms:

Solms, M (2013) The conscious id.  Neuropsychoanalysis, 15.


Two aspects of the body are represented in the brain, and they are represented differently. The most important difference is that the brain regions for the two aspects of the body are associated with different aspects of consciousness. 

Very broadly speaking, the brainstem mechanisms derived from the autonomic body are associated with affective consciousness, and the cortical mechanisms derived from the sensorimotor body are associated with cognitive consciousness. Moreover, the upper brainstem is intrinsically conscious whereas the cortex is not; it derives its consciousness from the brainstem. 

These facts have substantial implications for psychoanalytic metapsychology because the upper brainstem (and associated limbic structures) performs the functions that Freud attributed to the id, while the cortex (and associated forebrain structures) performs the functions he attributed to the ego. This means that the id is the fount of consciousness and the ego is unconscious in itself. The basis for these conclusions, and some of their implications, are discussed here in a preliminary fashion.

Panksepp, J. & Solms, M. (2012) What is neuropsychoanalysis? Clinically relevant studies of the minded brain. Trends in Cognitive Science, 16,  6-8.


Neuropsychoanalysis seeks to understand the human mind, especially as it relates to first-person experience. It recognizes the essential role of neuroscience in such quests. However, unlike most branches of neuroscience, it positions mind and brain on an equal footing. 

It recognizes that the mammalian brain is not only an information processing device for behavior, but also the fount of the dynamics that is called mind, from joyous and sad feelings to banal cognitions and idiosyncratic flights of fancy. 

It is impossible to explain complex behaviors without reference to neural networks that mediate subjective mental events: that is, the causal effects of thoughts and feelings. Neuropsychoanalysis accordingly counters the prevailing extreme reductionism in neuroscience and biological psychiatry. Neuropsychoanalysis uses the best approaches of standard brain research, but does not prevaricate about the causal role of mental processes in the functions of neural networks. 

As co-chairs of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society, we welcome all colleagues who recognize this necessity, and the power and utility of a neurophenomenal level of analysis. We trust that the neuropsychoanalytic study of psychological states can profoundly enrich a fully integrated cross-species neuroscience, and thereby illuminate many mental processes in humans.

Solms, M. (2011) Neurobiology and the neurological basis of dreaming. In P. Montagna & S. Chokroverty (eds.), Handbook of Clinical Neurology 98 (3rd series), Sleep Disorders – Part 1 (pp. 519-544). New York: Elsevier.


A standard system for conceptualizing and classifying disordered and abnormal dreaming has not yet been developed, in part a result of the wide disparities in approach to dreaming that presently characterize the field. In this chapter, several categories of abnormal dreaming are considered. 

After a brief review of dreaming in relation to the sleep cycle and the psychology of dreaming, a number of disorders of dreaming that present as clinical problems or symptoms are described. Particular emphasis is placed on nightmare disorder, the sole diagnosis in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 2nd edition for which pathology of dreaming is the primary feature. 

The definition, clinical features and dimensions, conceptual issues, formal diagnostic criteria, differential diagnosis, and treatment approaches for nightmare disorder are delineated. 

The value of considering nightmares in their rich, complex relationship to the psychology of the dreamer, as well as from a sleep medicine perspective, is underlined. Other clinical problems of dreaming, some related to recognized sleep disorders such as sleep terrors, narcolepsy, and REM sleep behavior disorder, are characterized. Some significant abnormalities of dreaming that do not typically present as clinical problems are then reviewed. Finally, the phenomenon of “lucid dreaming” is considered as an unusual variant of normal dreaming.

Solms, M. & Panksepp, J. (2010) Why depression feels bad. In E. Perry, D. Collerton, F. LeBeau & H. Ashton (eds.), New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness (pp. 169-179).  Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company


We 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 brain functioning. 

Notwithstanding all the philosophical complexities, therefore, the non-conscious/conscious interactions that are the focus of this book are, in our view, causal interactions. 

To marginalize consciousness in relation to what is ultimately a dualistic scientific understanding of how the brain works is likely to lead us badly astray. 

We illustrate this view by trying to address the question: why does depression feel bad? This is the postscript of a book chapter. The final version has been published in: "New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness" by Prof. Dr. Elaine K. Perry et al. (2010). Published by John Benjamins Publishing Company Amsterdam / Philadelphia.

Turnbull, O. & Solms, M. (2007) Awareness, desire, and false beliefs. Cortex, 43, 1083-1090 [Target paper, with 10 open peer commentaries]


Psychoanalysis has had a turbulent and complex relationship with neuropsychology for the century in which the two fields have existed--largely side by side. 

In this brief review we survey a range of findings support some of the central claims of classical psychoanalysis. Some of the findings are well-known--others less so, and have not yet received general attention in mainstream neuropsychology. 

The best known aspect of psychoanalytic theory is the claim advanced by Freud--with several scientific precursors--that most mental activity occurs outside of conscious awareness. 

A century after Freud introduced his many radical and counter-intuitive ideas into psychology, several of his most basic claims appear to stand on surprisingly firm neuropsychological ground.

Fotopoulou, A., Conway, M.A., & Solms, M. (2007) Confabulation: Motivated Reality Monitoring. Neuropsychologia, 45, 2180-2190.


The study addressed the hypothesis that the content of confabulation is emotionally biased. 

Confabulating amnesic patients were compared with amnesic non-confabulating patients in a memory recognition experiment that manipulated the valence (pleasant, unpleasant), temporal source (past, present, future) and selection agent (self, other) of the to-be-recognised memories. 

The results revealed that confabulating patients were more likely than amnesic non-confabulating patients to incorrectly recognise past autobiographical events or thoughts as currently relevant memories, and this was more pronounced for pleasant compared to unpleasant events. 

These findings suggest that motivational factors, along with defective reality and temporality monitoring, contribute to confabulation.

Solms, M. (2006). “Freud” and Bullitt: A previously unknown manuscript by Freud. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 54, 1263-1298.

An English translation of a previously unknown manuscript by Freud is presented. The manuscript, originally prepared in 1931 for William Bullitt's psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson, provides a general theoretical introduction to psychoanalysis. 

It also includes an original interpretation of Christianity that postulates a deep-going continuity between Christ identification and latent homosexuality. An editorial introduction to the translation clarifies the nature and limits of Freud's involvement with Bullitt's controversial psychobiography.

Gamwell, L. & Solms, M. (2006). From Neurology to Psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud’s Drawings and Diagrams of the Mind. {Cc: Unfortunately that pdf only contains even numbers pages.} Binghampton: State University of New York.

(Book review by Josh Jones) It’s easy to think we know all there is to know about Sigmund Freud. His name, after all, has become an adjective, a sure sign that someone’s legacy has embedded itself in the cultural consciousness. But did you know that the German neurologist we credit with the invention of psychoanalysis, the diagnoses of hysteria, dream interpretation, and the death drive began his career patiently dissecting eels in search of… eel testicles? Perhaps you did know that. Perhaps you only suspected it. 

There are few things about Freud (…) that surprise me anymore. Freud was a peculiarly talented individual.

One area in which he excelled may seem modest next to his roster of publications and celebrity acquaintances, and yet, the doctor’s skill as a medical draughtsman and maker of diagrams to illustrate his theories surely deserves some appreciation. …

As the title of the book indicates, the drawings literally illustrate the radical shift Freud made from the hard science of neurology to a practice of his own invention. 

Curator Gamwell writes, “as Freud focused on increasingly complex mental functions such as disorders of language and memory, he put aside any attempt to diagram the underlying physiological structure, such as neurological pathways, and he began making schematic images of hypothetical psychological structures,” …

Solms, M. & Turnbull, O. (2002). The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience. London & New York: Other/Karnac.


The "inner world" of the mind (being a mind and living a life) was the traditional preserve of psychoanalysis and related disciplines. Neuroscientists did not consider subjective mental states like consciousness, emotion, and dreaming, to be serious topics for brain research. 

In recent years--following the demise of behaviorism, the advent of brain imaging technology, and the emergence of a molecular neurobiology--these topics have assumed center stage in many leading neuroscientific laboratories around the world. 

This book takes the nonspecialist reader on a guided tour through new discoveries, pointing out how old psychodynamic concepts are being changed into a new scientific framework for understanding subjective experience in both health and disease.

Solms, M. (2001). The neurochemistry of dreaming: cholinergic and dopaminergic hypotheses. In Perry, E., Ashton, H. & Young, A. (eds.), The Neurochemistry of Consciousness. Advances in Consciousness Research series (pp. 123-131). Philadelphia: John Benjamin’s Publishing Company.


Discusses the cholinergic and dopaminergic hypotheses of dreaming, a state of consciousness. According to the cholinergic (activation-synthesis) hypothesis, the dream state is characterised by cholinergic activation of the aminergically demodulated forebrain. This hypothesis postulates that REM=dreaming. 

The alternative dopaminergic hypothesis rests on the observation that dreaming and REM sleep are doubly dissociable states. That is, dreams can occur without REM, and REM can occur without dreams--under both normal and pathological conditions. 

Although a central role for dopamine has yet to be acknowledged by the authors of the original activation-synthesis model, a more flexible, dynamic formula of this kind is included in the latest revisions of their model, now styled the AIM (activation-input-mode) model. This increasing understanding of the neurochemistry of dreaming promises to shed important new light on the neurochemistry of consciousness in general, and endogenously generated conscious states in particular. 

Solms, M. (2000). Dreaming and REM sleep are controlled by different brain mechanisms. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 23, 843-50 [Target paper with 39 peer commentaries].


The paradigmatic assumption that REM sleep is the physiological equivalent of dreaming is in need of fundamental revision. 

A mounting body of evidence suggests that dreaming and REM sleep are dissociable states, and that dreaming is controlled by forebrain mechanisms. Recent neuropsychological, radiological, and pharmacological findings suggest that the cholinergic brain stem mechanisms that control the REM state can only generate the psychological phenomena of dreaming through the mediation of a second, probably dopaminergic, forebrain mechanism. 

The latter mechanism (and thus dreaming itself) can also be activated by a variety of nonREM triggers. Dreaming can be manipulated by dopamine agonists and antagonists with no concomitant change in REM frequency, duration, and density. Dreaming can also be induced by focal forebrain stimulation and by complex partial (forebrain) seizures during nonREM sleep, when the involvement of brainstem REM mechanisms is precluded. Likewise, dreaming is obliterated by focal lesions along a specific (probably dopaminergic) forebrain pathway, and these lesions do not have any appreciable effects on REM frequency, duration, and density. 

These findings suggest that the forebrain mechanism in question is the final common path to dreaming and that the brainstem oscillator that controls the REM state is just one of the many arousal triggers that can activate this forebrain mechanism. The “REM-on” mechanism (like its various NREM equivalents) therefore stands outside the dream process itself, which is mediated by an independent, forebrain “dream-on” mechanism.

Kaplan-Solms, K. & Solms, M.(2000). Clinical Studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis: Introduction to a Depth Neuropsychology. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association Monograph Series, No 5. Madison CT: International Universities Press; London: Karnac Books.


When the first edition of Clinical studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis was published in 2000, it was hailed as a turning point in psychoanalytic research.  It is now relied on as a model for the integration of neuroscience and psychoanalysis.

It won the NAAP’s Gradiva Award for the Best science book of 2000, and Mark Solms received the International Psychiatrist Award 2001 at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.  …

Freud, in his 1895 Project for a Scientific Psychology, attempted to join the emerging discipline of psychoanalysis with the neuroscience of his time.  But that was a hundred years ago, when the neuron had only just been described, and Freud was forced - through lack of pertinent knowledge - to abandon his project.

We have had to wait many decades before the sort of data which Freud needed finally became available.  Now these many years later, contemporary neuroscience allow for the resumption of the search for correlations between these two disciplines.

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Home > Education & Training

One of the principle aims of the Neuropsychoanalysis Association is to provide resources and opportunities for dialogue between clinicians, researchers, and the wider public, as we engage in the challenging and exciting interdisciplinary project of neuropsychoanalysis.  Here we list the resources currently available on our site; much more is to come!

NPSA Clinical Register; Video Resources; Reading; Training & Research Opportunities; NPSA Learning platform; Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

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We publish videos of talks given at the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis of the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and videos of talks given at our congresses of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society. Please click here to access these videos.

We now also have a growing video catalogue of NPSA lectures, Regional Group webinars, and large meetings available. Please click here to access the recordings of these events.

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Series of eleven videos by Mark Solms that provides an introduction to clinical neuropsychology.

Series of fourteen videos by Mark Solms that is aimed at introducing clinical neuropsychoanalysis to psychiatrists, neurologists and psychoanalysts.

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Bridging between two vast domains is a huge challenge.  Those starting out can particularly benefit from recommendations for where to begin.  We have created a number of specialized reading lists, with more to come.  To read about them, please click here.

Of course, one of the best sources is our journal, Neuropsychoanalysis, which features work from prominent researchers, clinicians, and other thinkers on a wide variety of topics.  To read more about the journal, click here.  Note that Society members can get online access to current and past issues (join or renew by clicking here).

  • Just getting started? We recommend any of the following books for great overviews and introductions to the brain-mind dialogue:

The Brain and the Inner World, Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull, 2002: Other Press.

The Archeology of Mind, Jaak Panksepp and Lucy Biven, 2012: Norton.

The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, 2007: Penguin.

Clinical Studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis, Karen Kaplan-Solms and Mark Solms, 2001: Other Press.

Consciousness and the Brain, Stanislas Dehaene, 2014: Penguin Books.

From the Couch to the Lab: Trends in Psychodynamic Neuroscience, Aikaterini Fotopoulou, Donald Pfaff, and Martin A. Conway, eds. 2012: Oxford University Press.

Self Comes to Mind, Antonio Damasio, 2012: Vintage.


Google Scholar - Dr. Mark Solms

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1996Towards an Anatomy of the Unconscious 

Mark Solms, Ph.D. -  Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 5(3):331-367 (1996)

In this paper I present a preliminary model of how the human mental apparatus, as we conceive of it in psychoanalysis, might be represented in the tissues of the brain. Since this is our first approach at something unknown, it goes without saying that the model I will present is subject to substantial revision. It is based on neuropsychological knowledge concerning the cerebral organization of human mental functions, which was derived primarily from clinical observation and systematic investigation of the mental symptoms that are caused by localized brain lesions, using general neurological and psychological methods. 

General neuropsychological knowledge of this type cannot be simply translated into psychoanalytic terms. Or, at least, such a translation can only be of value as the first step towards a truly psychoanalytic neuropsychology. A truly psychoanalytic neuropsychology must be based upon psychoanalytic methods of observation and investigation of the mental symptoms caused by localized cerebral lesions. We have only just begun this enormous task (Kaplan-Solms & Solms, in press). 

In all likelihood our perspective on these problems will therefore alter radically as we continue to test our hypotheses against clinical reality. But excessive caution should not prevent us from pausing at this point, to gain a first, schematic perspective on what our efforts have yielded thus far. 

The aim of a general overview of this sort is for us to take our bearings for the research which still needs to be done, if we are going to properly rejoin psychoanalysis with the neuroscientific field from which it emerged almost one hundred years ago.

The first problems that we faced when I began this series of lectures were theoretical and methodological ones.

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1997 - What Is Consciousness?

Mark Solms

First Published June 1, 1997 Research Article Find in PubMed


In the past few years scientists and scholars in a variety of disciplines have been making concerted efforts to answer an ancient question, namely, How exactly do the physical processes in the brain cause consciousness? 

What is distinctive about the way in which modern scientists and scholars are approaching this question is that they are treating it as a scientific problem rather than a metaphysical one. 

This transition reflects the air of expectation in contemporary cognitive science to the effect that an empirical solution is imminent to a philosophical problem that previously was considered insoluble. 

Nevertheless, a recent authoritative review of the publications of such leading contemporary workers in the field as Francis Crick, Daniel Dennett, Gerald Edelman, Roger Penrose, and Israel Rosenfield has concluded that they have all failed to provide a satisfactory answer to the question (Searle 1995a). 

The present paper makes a psychoanalytic contribution to this interdisciplinary effort and provides an alternative answer to the question, based on Freud's conceptualization of the problem of consciousness. The paper takes a concrete example from Searle's review, reanalyses it within Freud's metapsychological frame of reference, and shows how this frame provides a radical solution to the problem. 

This implication of Freud's work has not hitherto been recognized and so has not received the attention it deserves.

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1997 - The Neuropsychology of Dreaming: A Clinico-Anatomical Study. 

Mark Solm

Mahwah, N.J. | Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Published November 24, 2015 by Psychology Press, (310 Pages)

ISBN 9781138989580

Book Description

In this book, Mark Solms chronicles a fascinating effort to systematically apply the clinico-anatomical method to the study of dreams. 

The purpose of the effort was to place disorders of dreaming on an equivalent footing with those of other higher mental functions such as the aphasias, apraxias, and agnosias. 

Modern knowledge of the neurological organization of human mental functions was grounded upon systematic clinico-anatomical investigations of these functions under neuropathological conditions. 

It therefore seemed reasonable to assume that equivalent research into dreaming would provide analogous insights into the cerebral organization of this important but neglected function. 

Accordingly, the main thrust of the study was to identify changes in dreaming that are systematically associated with focal cerebral pathology and to describe the clinical and anatomical characteristics of those changes. The goal, in short, was to establish a nosology of dream disorders with neuropathological significance. 

Unless dreaming turned out to be organized in a fundamentally different way than other mental functions, there was every reason to expect that this research would cast light on the cerebral organization of the normal dream process.

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1999 - The Interpretation of Dreams and the Neurosciences - Mark Solms

March 21, 1999 - The British Psychoanalystical Society.

Shortly after Freud’s death, the study of dreaming from the perspective of neuroscience began in earnest. Initially, these studies yielded results which were hard to reconcile with the psychological conclusions set out in this book [Traumdeutung (see footnote)]. …

… The picture of the dreaming brain which emerges from recent neuroscientific research may therefore be summarised as follows: the process of dreaming is initiated by an arousal stimulus. If this stimulus is sufficiently intense or persistent to activate the motivational mechanisms of the brain (or if it attracts the interest of these mechanisms for some other reason), the dream process proper begins.  …

… The credibility of Freud’s theory was, in short, severely strained by the first wave of data about dreaming that was obtained from ‘anatomical preparations’ (Freud, 1900a, p536): and the neuroscientific world (indeed the scientific world as a whole) reverted to the pre-psychoanalytic view that ‘dreams are froth’ (Freud, 1900a, p133).

However, alongside the observations just reviewed, which provided an increasingly precise and detailed picture of the neurology of REM sleep, a second body of evidence gradually began to accumulate, which led some neuroscientists to recognise that perhaps REM sleep was not the physiological equivalent of dreaming after all (Solms, In Press). …

This hypothesis, that two separate mechanisms – one for REM and one for dreaming – exist in the brain, can easily be tested by a standard neurological research method known as clinico-anatomical correlation.  …

… Thus, Freud’s major inferences from psychological evidence regarding both the causes and the function of dreaming are at least compatible with, and even indirectly supported by, current neuroscientific knowledge. Does the same apply to the mechanism of dreaming? …

The picture of the dreaming brain which emerges from recent neuroscientific research may therefore be summarised as follows: the process of dreaming is initiated by an arousal stimulus. If this stimulus is sufficiently intense or persistent to activate the motivational mechanisms of the brain (or if it attracts the interest of these mechanisms for some other reason), the dream process proper begins.  …

Further Reading

Freud, S. (1893) ‘Some Points for a Comparative Study of Organic and Hysterical Motor Paralyses’. Standard Edition, 1: 160-172.

Solms,M. (1995) ‘Is the Brain more Real than the Mind?’

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 9: 107-120.

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(Cc:  The following paper doesn’t involve Dr. Solms, but it is indicative of the science that was actually available around the turn of this century, science that clearly pointed us towards an understanding of consciousness within the confines of physical reality.  Contrary to the assurances Donald Hoffman offered in his “The Case Against Reality.”)

The mind-brain relationship

Regina Pally, David D Olds, (2000)

Other Press, LLC

The recent explosion of knowledge in neuroscience has enormous implications for the practice of psychoanalysis, and The Mind-Brain Relationship offers an indispensable introduction to the seemingly unfamiliar, intimidating, and yet exciting and essential field of neuropsychoanalysis.

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2014 - The neuropsychology of dreams: A clinico-anatomical study

Mark Solms, February 25, 2014  |  Psychology Press


In this book, Mark Solms chronicles a fascinating effort to systematically apply the clinico-anatomical method to the study of dreams. 

The purpose of the effort was to place disorders of dreaming on an equivalent footing with those of other higher mental functions such as the aphasias, apraxias, and agnosias. Modern knowledge of the neurological organization of human mental functions was grounded upon systematic clinico-anatomical investigations of these functions under neuropathological conditions. 

It therefore seemed reasonable to assume that equivalent research into dreaming would provide analogous insights into the cerebral organization of this important but neglected function. Accordingly, the main thrust of the study was to identify changes in dreaming that are systematically associated with focal cerebral pathology and to describe the clinical and anatomical characteristics of those changes. The goal, in short, was to establish a nosology of dream disorders with neuropathological significance. 

Unless dreaming turned out to be organized in a fundamentally different way than other mental functions, there was every reason to expect that this research would cast light on the cerebral organization of the normal dream process.

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APsaA’s Major New Research Initiative Will Further the Scientific Basis of Psychoanalysis

Mark Solms, Ph.D., is chair of neuropsychology at the psychology department and Neuroscience Institute of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is APsaA’s director of science and the IPA’s research chair.

APsaA is launching a major new research initiative to help meet the pressing need for more outcome studies focused on the symptomatic and structural effects of long-term psychoanalysis—versus not only CBT but also low-frequency and short-term psychoanalytic psychotherapies. Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber has been appointed to design a randomized control trial that compares low-frequency and high-frequency psychoanalytic treatments. The study design will need to focus on just one particular psychopathology, to begin with, and will involve not only behavioral measures but also indexes of change in brain network dynamics (and other biomarkers) over the course of the treatments. The project was initiated by Harriet Wolfe and me, with seed-funding from APsaA, but the design of the study itself has been the responsibility of Leuzinger-Bohleber and her team. The pilot project will be funded jointly by APsaA and the IPA, an unusual arrangement which marks the importance of the investigation.

As background and support for this major initiative, I would like to share with APsaA’s membership an updated version of the article I published in 2018 in the International Edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry. The article is based on a paper I presented at APsaA’s 2017 National Meeting, when I became director of the Science Department.

The Scientific Standing of Psychoanalysis

My aim is to set out here what we psychoanalysts may consider to be the core scientific claims of our discipline. Such stock taking is necessary due to widespread misconceptions among the public and disagreements among ourselves regarding specialist details, which obscure a bigger picture upon which we can all agree. Agreement on our core claims, which enjoy strong empirical support, will enable us to better defend them against the prejudice that psychoanalysis is not “evidence-based.”

I shall address three questions: (1) How does the emotional mind work, in health and disease? (2) On this basis, what does psychoanalytic treatment aim to achieve? (3) How effective is it?

My arguments in relation to these questions will be:

  1. Psychoanalysis rests upon three core claims about the emotional mind that were once considered controversial but are now widely accepted in neighboring disciplines.
  2. The clinical methods psychoanalysts use to relieve mental suffering flow directly from these core claims and are consistent with current scientific understanding of how the brain changes.
  3. It is therefore not surprising that psychoanalytic therapy achieves good outcomes—at least as good as, and in some important respects better than, other evidence-based treatments in psychiatry today.

Our Core Claims

Our three core claims about the emotional mind are the following: (1) The human infant is not a blank slate; like all other species, we are born with a set of innate needs. (2) The main task of mental development is to learn how to meet these needs in the world, which implies that mental disorder arises from failures to achieve this task. (3) Most of our methods of meeting our emotional needs are executed unconsciously, which requires us to return them to consciousness in order to change them.

These core claims could also be described as premises, but it is important to recognize they are scientific premises, because they are testable and falsifiable. As I proceed, I will elaborate these premises, adding details, but I want to differentiate between the core claims themselves and the specifying details. The details are empirical. Whether they are ultimately upheld or not does not affect the core claims. Detailed knowledge changes over time, but core claims are foundational. Everything we do in psychoanalysis is predicated upon these three claims. If they are disproven, the core scientific presuppositions upon which psychoanalysis (as we know it) rests will have been rejected. But as things stand currently, in 2019, they are eminently defensible, strongly—indeed increasingly—supported by accumulating and converging lines of evidence in neighboring fields. This continues to justify Eric Kandel’s assertion in 1999 that “Psychoanalysis still represents the most coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind.” …

I turn now to each of the proposed three claims.

Claim 1. The human infant is not a blank slate; like all other species, we are born with a set of innate needs.  …

Claim 2. The main task of mental development is to learn how to meet our needs in the world. 

Claim 3. Most of our predictions are executed unconsciously. 

Our Clinical Logic

My second argument is the clinical methods psychoanalysts use to relieve mental suffering flow from the above core claims, which are consistent with current understanding of how the brain changes. The argument unfolds over three steps: …

Our Clinical Effectiveness

My third argument is that psychoanalytic therapy achieves good outcomes—at least as good as, and in some respects better than, other evidence-based treatments in psychiatry today. This argument unfolds over four stages: …


I am well aware the claims I have summarized here do not do justice to the full complexity and variety of views in psychoanalysis, both as a theory and a therapy. I am saying only that these are our core claims, which underpin all the details, including those upon which we are yet to reach agreement. If we can agree on just these few claims, underpinning the arguments presented in this article, we are much better placed to explain our point of view to neighboring disciplines and to the public. I believe these claims and arguments are eminently defensible, in light of available scientific evidence, and that they make simple good sense.

There is further need for more studies. The new research initiative sponsored by APsaA and the IPA, directed by Leuzinger-Bohleber, will be a powerful contribution. It will help provide empirical support to questions about the importance of high vs. low frequency of sessions, as well as correlating biomarkers with treatment outcomes. A major disadvantage we suffer in comparison with psychopharmacological and CBT researchers is an almost total lack of financial support for psychoanalytic outcome studies from commercial and statutory sources. 

If we are going to overcome the prejudice that feeds this lack of support—namely the self-fulfilling (and false, see Shedler, 2015) claim that psychoanalysis is not evidence-based—then we will have to fund such studies ourselves, at least to begin with.

The author would like to thank Jonathan Shedler for his generous help with this article.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

2018 - The Neurobiological Underpinnings of Psychoanalytic Theory and Therapy


Front. Behav. Neurosci., 04 December 2018 |

Mark Leonard Solms

  • Psychology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

This paper sets out the neurobiological underpinnings of the core theoretical claims of psychoanalysis. These claims concern (1) innate emotional needs, (2) learning from experience, and (3) unconscious mental processing. The paper also considers the neurobiological underpinnings of the mechanisms of psychoanalytic treatment—a treatment which is based on the aforementioned claims. Lastly, it reviews the available empirical evidence concerning the therapeutic efficacy of this form of treatment.  …. 


I am aware that the neurobiological assumptions and hypotheses outlined in this article are synthesized in a highly abstracted way. My aim has been only to sketch the bigger picture, in broad brushstrokes, so that the wood emerges from the trees. I hope that this rough sketch has served its essential purpose, which is to provide in simple terms a neurobiological understanding of psychoanalytic theory and therapy, as things stand today. I do not mean to assert, of course, that psychoanalysis was based upon these underpinnings. Rather, I hope to have shown that the core theoretical claims and technical practices of psychoanalysis have gradually acquired neurobiological support.

I am also well aware that the claims I have summarized here do not do justice to the full complexity and variety of views in psychoanalysis, both as a theory and a therapy. I am saying only that these are the core claims, which underpin all the details, including some of those upon which psychoanalysts are yet to reach agreement. I believe that these claims are increasingly supportable, in light of current scientific evidence, and that they make simple good sense.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2019 - The Hard Problem of Consciousness and the Free Energy Principle

Dr. Mark Solms

  • Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Frontiers in Psychology, January 30, 2019

This article applies the free energy principle to the hard problem of consciousness. After clarifying some philosophical issues concerning functionalism, it identifies the elemental form of consciousness as affect and locates its physiological mechanism (an extended form of homeostasis) in the upper brainstem. This mechanism is then formalized in terms of free energy minimization (in unpredicted contexts) where decreases and increases in expected uncertainty are felt as pleasure and unpleasure, respectively. Emphasis is placed on the reasons why such existential imperatives feel like something to and for an organism.

I recently published a dense article on this topic (Solms and Friston, 2018)—a sort of preliminary communication—which I would like to expand upon here, in advance of a book-length treatment to be published under the title Consciousness Itself (Solms, in press). Since this is a psychoanalytic journal, I will supplement my argument with cross-references to Freud's views on these themes. Readers with a mathematical background will benefit from a close reading of Solms and Friston (2018) in conjunction with this paper, which is aimed primarily at a psychologically educated readership.

My argument unfolds over four sections, of unequal length. The first addresses some philosophical issues pertaining to dual-aspect monism in relation to the hard problem. The second reconsiders the anatomical localization of consciousness (the so-called neural correlate of consciousness or NCC) in the cerebral cortex. In consequence, it reconceptualizes the functional roles of the “level” vs. “contents” of consciousness. 

The third and most important section explains the dual aspects of consciousness (its physiological and psychological manifestations) in formal mechanistic terms, in relation to the imperatives of free energy minimization. The fourth section briefly pursues some implications of this formulation for the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness, in relation to memory consolidation and reconsolidation.

The Problem With The Hard Problem

Does the Brain Produce the Mind? …

Is Consciousness Just Another Cognitive Function? …

In The Beginning Was The Affect

Is Consciousness a Cortical Function? …

Does it Feel Like Something to be Awake? …

Why Do We Feel? …

To Be Precise

How Does Homeostasis Arise?

If consciousness arises through a homeostatic mechanism, as the above physiological29 considerations suggest, then a lot rides on the question: how does homeostasis arise? The answer to this question should lead to the abstraction we are looking for (i.e., the abstraction that transcends psychological and physiological “appearances”). …

How Does Consciousness Arise?

I first expressed the view in 1997 that the problem of consciousness will only be solved if we reduce its psychological and physiological manifestations to a single underlying abstraction (Solms, 1997)37. It took me many years to realize that this abstraction revolves around the dynamics of free energy and uncertainty (Solms, 2013, 2014). …

“Consciousness Arises Instead of a Memory-trace”

This section will be disproportionately short (see Solms, 2018a,d, in press, for fuller treatments). …


In this paper, I have drawn attention to two impediments to solving the “hard problem” of consciousness—one philosophical and one scientific—and I have suggested how these impediments might be removed. 

The first is the popular idea that the brain “produces” consciousness, i.e., that physiological processes literally turn into experiences, through some curious metaphysical transformation. The second impediment is the conventional notion that consciousness is a function of cerebral cortex, i.e., that visual awareness (or any other form of conscious cognition) serves as the model example of consciousness. 

Adopting a dual-aspect monist position on the philosophical mind/body problem allows us to find the causal mechanism of consciousness not in the manifest brain but rather in its functional organization, which ultimately underpins both the physiological and the psychological manifestations of experience. In order to transcend the figurative language of dualism, this unifying (monist) organization should be described in abstract terms (i.e., neither in physiological nor psychological terms but rather in mathematical ones). 

‘Against this background,’ I (like Damasio and others) suggest that the long-sought mechanism of consciousness is to be found in an extended form of homeostasis, which describes the mode of functioning of both the deep brainstem nuclei that provide the NCC of affective arousal and the experience of feeling itself (which appears to be the foundational form of consciousness). 

This type of homeostasis (formalized here as free-energy minimization) entails the generation of affects (formalized as homeostatic prediction errors) which must be contextually prioritized in relation to each other and not-system events (formalized as precision weighting), leading to modulation of perception and action (formalized as error correction) on the basis of felt uncertainty. This modulatory arousal process, in turn, leads to learning from experience through reconsolidation, which bestows an enormous adaptive advantage over simpler types of homeostasis—such as those found in autonomic (involuntary) nervous systems and refrigerators—the advantage being a capacity for life-preserving intentional behavior in unpredicted situations.

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2021 - The Hidden Spring; A Journey to the Source of Consciousness

by Mark Solms

  • ISBN: 978-0-393-54201-1
  • W. W. Norton Publishers, 432 pages

A revelatory new theory of consciousness that returns emotions to the center of mental life. 

For Mark Solms, one of the boldest thinkers in contemporary neuroscience, discovering how consciousness comes about has been a lifetime’s quest. Scientists consider it the "hard problem" because it seems an impossible task to understand why we feel a subjective sense of self and how it arises in the brain.

Venturing into the elementary physics of life, Solms has now arrived at an astonishing answer. In The Hidden Spring, he brings forward his discovery in accessible language and graspable analogies.

Solms is a frank and fearless guide on an extraordinary voyage from the dawn of neuropsychology and psychoanalysis to the cutting edge of contemporary neuroscience, adhering to the medically provable. But he goes beyond other neuroscientists by paying close attention to the subjective experiences of hundreds of neurological patients, many of whom he treated, whose uncanny conversations expose much about the brain’s obscure reaches.

Most importantly, you will be able to recognize the workings of your own mind for what they really are, including every stray thought, pulse of emotion, and shift of attention. The Hidden Spring will profoundly alter your understanding of your own subjective experience.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Hidden Spring by Mark Solms, A review – The riddle of consciousness solved?

Oliver Burkeman, Feb 5, 2021,

I feel therefore I am ... In this fascinating study, a neuropsychologist argues that the mystery of consciousness centres on emotions …



(Explaining why this is important to me)

(Con’t…)   Hoffman goes on about the failure of traditional science and tells us we need a mathematical, meta-physical, out-of-body approach to understanding our human consciousness.  Since, according to him, the scientific “physicalist” approach has failed.  

I sensed so many problems with the arguments and rationale displayed throughout the book that I decided to do my own detailed chapter by chapter review.  It took fourteen chapters and they became the first part of this project.  That was followed by four chapters looking at Hoffman/Prakash’s paper "Objects of Consciousness" (2014).

This, in turn, was followed by another section sharing highlights from ten published comments by various scientists and experts.  Followed by another nine background articles, intended to support my layperson observations with their substantive information and expert critiques.  It’s all food for thought.

From there I was getting ready to move onto my fifth section, with a series of posts explaining my own more down to Earth perspective on the supposed mind-body problem.  One based on, and confined by, a reasonable understanding of, and respect for, physical reality.  

However, serendipity stepped in and I “discovered” the neuropsychoanalysis, Dr. Mark Solms, via lectures shared on YouTube.  His talks have revolutionized my understanding of the actual state of the scientific understanding - and incidentally, increased my resentment towards Hoffman’s deceptive game, since he never alludes to any of this, nor associated work, in his misleading put downs of scientific realism.  

Turns out human consciousness is much more accessible to traditional scientific rules and methods, thanks to evolving technological abilities and increased knowledge, that has become phenomenal over the past couple decades.

It was very satisfying listening to Solms explaining neurological discoveries and thinking about their implications.  I imagine Solms never heard of Hoffman, still Solms’ breakthroughs put the authoritative lie to a number of claims made within the book “A Case Against Reality.”

Consciousness can be understood via a “physicalist” scientific evolution respecting approach and Mark Solms does a superb job of explaining how it’s done.

For me Solms’ findings were the missing link my project needed.  He explicates the scientific foundation for understand consciousness, as opposed to freewheeling meta-physical philosophizing that leaves us empty and lost chasing phantoms.

To me it feels like Dr. Solms has provided me with an excellent fact driven bridge to carry us onto my own upcoming brand of down to Earth, deep-time and evolution respecting Earth Centrist philosophizing.

I hope the following collection can be of some help with inspiration and substance for your own related homework assignments in defend of Physical Reality and constructive learn via the global community of dedicated, competitive experts/scientists looking over each other’s shoulders.



Cc’s Students’ Study Guide for The Case Against Reality

©2020 Peter Miesler
I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, 
Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, a critical review of, The Case Against Reality:  Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company

(1.01)  The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

(1.02)  Chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

(1.03)  Chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

(1.04)  Chapter 10c, Cmty: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

(1.05)  Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

(1.06)  Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

(1.07)  Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

(1.08)  Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

(1.09)  Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

(1.10)  Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

(1.11)  Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

(1.12)  Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

(1.13)  Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

(1.14)  Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014

(2.01)  4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

(2.02)  1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

(2.03)  2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

(2.04)  3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


(3.01)  Diary - But, wait!  There's more.  Ten Learned Responses:

Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentariesDonald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash" 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewvolume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)


We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. ...

(3.02)  Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception? 


(3.03)  Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception. 


(3.04)  Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots. 


(3.05)  Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash. 


(3.06)  Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, 

“The interface theory of perception”. 


(3.07)  Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum. 


(3.08)  Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception. 


(3.09)  Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green Are icons sense data


(3.10)  Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash. 


(3.11)  Matthew Schlesinger Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more. 



Student Resources - Background info:

(4.01)  Rainer Mausfeld: ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception.
(4.02)  Paul Mealing: considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”
(4.03)  The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One
(4.04)  Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality
(4.05)  "Emergence" - A Handy Summary and Resources
(4.06)  Physical Origins of Mind - Dr. Siegel, Allen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.
(4.07)  Can you trust Frontiers in Psychology research papers?  Students' Resource
(4.08)  Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource
(4.09)  Philo+Sophia - Love of Wisdom - A Student Resource



(5.01)    Summary, 

explaining why I pursued this project.


Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft. 

(6.01)  Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

(6.02)  The Other Side of Dr. Mark Solms, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

(6.03)  Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.


My homemade philosophical underpinning . . . 


(7.01)  An Alternative Philosophical Perspective - “Earth Centrism     
(7.02)  Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide          
(7.03)  Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution
(7.04)  It’s not a “Body-Mind Problem,”  it’s an “Ego-God Problem.”

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Email: citizenschallenge  gmail  com


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