Category Archives: Psychoanalytic research

NEW RESEARCH: On dreams & motivation: comparison of Freud’s & Hobson’s views

Boag, S. (2017). On dreams & motivation: comparison of Freud’s & Hobson’s Views. Front. Psychol. 7:2001. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02001


The merits of Freudian dream theory continue to be debated and both supporters and critics appeal to empirical evidence to support their respective positions. What receives much less attention is the theoretical coherency of either Freudian dream theory or alternative perspectives. This paper examines Freudian dream theory and J. Allan Hobson’s alternative position by addressing the role of motivation in dreams. This paper first discusses motivation in Freudian theory and its relation to dreams and disguise-censorship. The role of motivation in Hobson’s theory is then considered. Hobson’s claim that dream plot and content selection is random and based on design error and functional imbalance is then discussed in relation to the protoconsciousness theory proposal that dreams serve an adaptive function. While there are apparent inconsistencies in Hobson’s position, his appeal to emotions and instincts provides a preliminary platform for understanding the role of motivation in dreams that is consonant with the Freudian position.

NEW RESEARCH: Metapsychology & the Foundations of Psychoanalysis

Metapsychology and the Foundations of Psychoanalysis redresses faults in Freud’s original conception to develop a coherent theoretical basis for psychodynamic theory. The book argues that Freud’s much maligned ‘metapsychology’, once revised, can provide a foundation for evaluating and integrating the plethora of psychodynamic perspectives, by developing a philosophically-informed position that addresses the embodied, interconnected relationship between motivation, cognition and affects.

The book centres upon the major concepts in psychoanalysis, including the notion of unconscious mental processes, wish-fulfilment, fantasy, and repression. Both philosophical considerations and empirical evidence are brought to bear upon these topics, and used to extract the valuable insights from major approaches. As a result, this revised general psychology, which stays true to Freud’s intention, addresses psychoanalytic pluralism and shows it is possible to develop a unified account, integrating the insights from attachment theory and object relational approaches and acknowledging the rightful role for neuropsychoanalysis.

NEW RESEARCH: In defence of unconscious mentality

Boag, S. (2015). In defence of unconscious mentality. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, & V. Talvitie (Eds.), Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind (pp. 239-265). London: Karnac.

Download Boag 2015 Unconscious mentality


This chapter is a response to recent attacks upon the possibility of unconscious mentality and the use of Brentano’s claim that mental acts are necessarily conscious due to Intentionality. The chapter demonstrates that Brentano’s stance against unconscious mentality is an empirical claim and not a logical one. Against the claim that unconscious processes are simply non-cognitive neural processes, this chapter demonstrates that the conclusion that unconscious processes are simply neural processes follows from failing to distinguish between knowing and knowing that one knows. Specifically, the problem follows from reinstating the Cartesian fallacy which confuses consciousness of something with self-consciousness of it. This chapter discusses unconscious processes in terms of psychological relations involving brain processes but which are not reducible to them. Whether any event or process is conscious is unconscious is simply to describe certain relationships and not qualities of mental processes. The implications for the dynamic unconscious, as well as criticisms of the systemic view of unconscious mentality, are further discussed

NEW RESEARCH: Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind: unconscious mentality in the 21st century

Boag, S., Brakel, L. A. W., & Talvitie, V. (Eds). (2015). Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind: Unconscious Mentality in the 21st Century. London; Karnac.

This second volume follows our first (Philosophy, Science & Psychoanalysis) and critically examines the nature of unconscious mental processes and psychoanalytic explanation. The volume brings together Tamas Pataki, Jim Hopkins, Michael Levine, Linda, Vesa and me. Further information on the volume can be found here.

For a list of authors, papers, and introductory material see Psychoanalysis____Philosophy_of_Mind_2015.

NEW RESEARCH: Repression, defence, & the psychology of science

Boag, S. (2015). Repression, defence, & the psychology of science. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, and V. Talvitie (Eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Psychoanalysis (pp. 247-268). London: Karnac.

Boag 2015 Repression, defence, & the psychology of science download


In this chapter I propose that Freud’s theory of repression, broadly formulated, is essential for understanding the psychology of science. The possibility of self-deception and motivated ignoring in science is first discussed in the context of ‘turning a blind eye’, ‘blindness of the seeing eye’ and selective inattention. The relationship between human nature, unpleasure, and the aims of science is then addressed in the context of statistics, pathological science, and socially constructed blindness. Alfred Mele’s seminal work on self-deception is then considered and I propose that some account of Freudian repression appears to be required to satisfactorily account for selective inattention in self-deception. While determining whether any given scientist is engaging in self-deception is not easily determined, the in principle possibility of self-deception in science, is a serious concern for the discipline to acknowledge.

NEW RESEARCH: Psychodynamic approaches to Borderline Personality

Boag, S. (2014). Psychodynamic approaches to Borderline Personality DisorderACPARIAN, 9, 25-28.

Boag 2014 BPD


Psychodynamic approaches to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are particularly relevant to understanding the aetiology, treatment, and even prevention of BPD. Psychodynamic approaches contribute an understanding of the core deficits surrounding identity, object relations (self and other relationships), and emotion dysregulation in terms of personality organisation, motivational processes (e.g., attachment needs), affects, conflict, and defences. Psychodynamic approaches complement non-psychodynamic approaches to BPD. There are two major psychodynamic approaches to treating BPD: Transference-Focused Psychotherapy and Mentalisation-based Treatments. Both have demonstrated clinical utility and share common features with respect to the development of self- and other-reflection. Both the conceptualisation and classification of personality disorders have received longstanding criticism for various reasons, including comorbidity and poor reliability of assessment. Nevertheless, the view that personality (however conceptualised) can be disordered is generally accepted, and psychodynamic approaches have a long history of contributing to both our description and understanding of ‘character pathology’. Furthermore, psychodynamic accounts are particularly well-suited to understanding and guiding the treatment of personality disorders.

NEW RESEARCH: Ego, drives, and the dynamics of internal objects

Boag. S. (2014). Ego, drives, and the dynamics of internal objects. Frontiers in Psychoanalysis and Neuropsychoanalysis, 5, 1-13.

Boag 2014 Frontiers


This paper addresses the relationship between the ego, id, and internal objects. While ego psychology views the ego as autonomous of the drives, a less well-known alternative position views the ego as constituted by the drives. Based on Freud’s ego-instinct account, this position has developed into a school of thought which postulates that the drives act as knowers. Given that there are multiple drives, this position proposes that personality is constituted by multiple knowers. Following on from Freud, the ego is viewed as a composite sub-set of the instinctual drives (ego-drives), whereas those drives cut off from expression form the id. The nature of the “self” is developed in terms of identification and the possibility of multiple personalities is also established. This account is then extended to object-relations and the explanatory value of the ego-drive account is discussed in terms of the addressing the nature of ego-structures and the dynamic nature of internal objects. Finally, the impact of psychological conflict and the significance of repression for understanding the nature of splits within the psyche are also discussed.