The Evolved Structure of Human Social Behaviour and Personality: Psychoanalytic Insights

Author(s) : Ralf-Peter Behrendt

The Evolved Structure of Human Social Behaviour and Personality: Psychoanalytic Insights

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : 2012
  • Cover : Hardback
  • Pages : 296
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
  • Catalogue No : 33077
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780491158
  • ISBN 10 : 1780491158

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The book reviews psychoanalytic theory with the aim of developing a evolutionarily feasible model of social behaviour and personality that can help to bridge the gap between psychoanalysis and neuroscience.

In bringing together various psychoanalytic theories with aspects of ethology, sociology, and behaviourism, the book seeks to overcome the theoretical impasse faced by cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience in their endeavours to understand how the brain has evolved to organize complex social behaviour in humans. The book is of academic interest, addressing those working in behavioural sciences who want to gather what can be learned from the rich body of psychoanalytic theory for the sake of advancing the goal shared by all behavioural sciences: to elucidate the principles of regulation of social behaviour and personality and understand where and how we can find their neural underpinnings. It advocates that brain-social behaviour relationship can only be understood if we learn from and integrate psychoanalytic insights gained across the last century from clinical work by what are often considered to be rival schools of thought. The book should also be of interest to psychoanalysts looking for a systematic and integrative overview of psychoanalytic theories, an overview that reaches across ego psychology, object relations theory, attachment theory, self psychology, and Lacanian theory. The book is not, however, a critique of psychoanalytic theory or a review of its historical development; it emphasizes consistencies and compatibilities rather than differences between psychoanalytic schools of thought.

Reviews and Endorsements

'This volume presents an original effort to construct a comprehensive developmental model of human personality and social behaviour, based on a combined neurobiological, evolutionary biological, psychodynamic, and social psychological perspective. In the process, psychoanalytic theory is employed as a basic, unifying set of theoretical propositions, and a wide spectrum of psychoanalytic proposals and clinical observations applied for this purpose. For the psychoanalytic reader, the juxtaposition of this broad body of psychoanalytic formulations may be surprising, and, at some points, puzzling, but always, given the scope of this project, stimulating and thought provoking.'
- Otto F. Kernberg, MD, Director, Personality Disorders Institute, The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Payne Whitney Westchester, Professor of Psychiatry, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Training and Supervising Analyst, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

'An extremely ambitious work of scholarship, which seeks to connect ideas from disparate disciplines in the social, behavioural, evolutionary (ethology in particular), and the neurosciences with a careful and extensive reading of psychoanalytic ideas in the service of explication of normal and abnormal human behaviour. The crucible or platform on which this anatomisation of human normal and abnormal behaviour works is the mind-brain and its principal goal is providing a deeply rooted interdisciplinary account of behaviour as construed by social evolutionary sciences (i.e., behaviour as natural and ecologically rooted) as well as clinical sciences (e.g., "psychopathology"). Dr Ralf-Peter Behrendt's primary interest is to provide for the reader a deep and clear synthesis of relationships among central concepts in diverse sciences of human behaviour, psychoanalysis, ethology, and neuroscience in particular, for purposes of showing how they illuminate traditional concepts about the pathology of inter-individual and intra-individual behaviours. There are now several textbooks and a large literature written by distinguished clinicians and evolutionary social scientists that provide syntheses between ideas of human evolution and the difference of clinically relevant human behaviour problems. These address largely molar, social behavioural questions and categories, rarely probing into the workings of mind, although sometimes the brain. Dr Behrendt's synthesis adds a new dimension to this body of work: an in-depth account of the relevant sciences as per the working of the brain and mind in service of understanding normal compared to abnormal behaviour as calibrated in the clinical sciences (e.g., psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, general psychiatry).'
- Horacio Fabrega Jr, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

'In this deeply scholarly book, Ralf-Peter Behrendt breathes fresh life into the well-worked field of evolutionary psychology. Peppered with many memorable concepts ("phylogenetic ritualisation", "moral masochism"), his apparently effortless synthesis of philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and emerging neuroscience is surely a worthy successor to Freud's Project for a Scientific Psychology.'
- Bill (KWM) Fulford, Fellow of St Cross College and Member of the Philosophy Faculty, University of Oxford; Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health, University of Warwick; and editor of PPP - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology

About the Author(s)

Ralf-Peter Behrendt studied medicine and biophysics (medical cybernetics) in Moscow, Russia. He came to England in 1997, where he trained in psychiatry, pursuing special interests in psychoanalysis and neuropsychiatry. He now works as a consultant in old-age psychiatry. He has published several articles and book chapters in the field of psychopathology and neurobiology of mental illness, especially in the interface with philosophy.

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