Mark Smaller is Director of the Neuro-PsychoanalysisFoundation in New York and London.

Read Messages from the Director of the Neuro-sychoanalysis:

September 6, 2007

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I was recently interviewed for a Revolution Health podcast about the impact of depression on college students, especially those going away from home for the first time (Revolution Health is an online medical health information site: What are symptoms students and parents should watch for? What is the difference between a normal adjustment for student living away from home for the first time and a serious depression that requires treatment? How can parents help? What makes students reluctant to seek help? What is the most effective treatment intervention? Is medication alone enough?

How serious is this health issue? Consider the following. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among high school students, and second among college students. 40 % of college male students and 50% of college female students have reported symptoms of depression so severe that they could barely function. 12 million children in the U.S. alone suffer from undiagnosed mental illness. Depression, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, might be one of the major health issues we face – and often the one least understood, researched, or treated.

At our 8th Annual Congress in Vienna on Neuropsychoanalytic Perspectives on Depression, and at the Hope For Depression Research Foundation Seminar earlier in that week, our neuroscience colleagues challenged us. Can psychoanalysts offer theoretical concepts and treatment interventions to be tested? Are we committed to understanding the evolution of consciousness and the brain? Such knowledge can only advance our theories of the mind and the unconscious, and so our therapeutic interventions enabling us to provide more effective work with those desperately in need of our help.

Andrew Solomon, one of our opening guest speakers in Vienna and author of Noonday Demon, spoke powerfully and personally of his debilitating experience with severe depression. But he also spoke of how in working at his illness he “loved who he became.” He has written that,

Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair. Love, though it is no prophylactic against depression, is what cushions the mind and protects it from itself. Medications and psychotherapy can renew that protection, making it easier to love and be loved, and that is why they work. (The Noonday Demon)

Though not a scientist, Solomon captured, in his remarks, the essence of our neuropsychoanalytic work: the mind and the brain are one but when they fail to work together they cannot ensure that we are able, in the words of Freud – the original neurospsychoanalyst – “to love and work”.

While in Vienna I was often approached by young researchers telling me about innovative ideas for neuropsychoanalytic research for which they are in need of support. With your help, we can make that research happen. The desperate need for effective treatments is all the more critical when depression and other mental health illnesses have such tragic consequences on people’s lives. Psychoanalysis, as a science and as a profession, must continue to provide that treatment.

For those of you who have already donated we thank you and hope you will continue your valuable support for the coming year. To new donors, we want to underscore that it is not how much you give that helps us, but rather that you participate in any way you can.

Best wishes and warm regards for the coming year. And, if you didn’t make to Vienna, we look forward to seeing you next summer in Montreal.

Mark D. Smaller, Ph.D.
Director, Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation

Click here to make a donation

New York: The Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation, Apt 7B, 1185 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10128, USA.
London: The International Neuropsychoanalysis Centre, 13 Prowse Place, London NW1 9PN, UK.

January, 31 2006

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


During the meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association in New York last week, I attended a plenary that included two neuroscientists, Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux; and three psychoanalysts, our own Ed Nersessian (moderator), Arnold Modell, Bonnie Litowitz, and Wilma Bucci. During the discussion, a friend of mine whispered: “only a short time ago this panel would have been in one of the seminar rooms, not in the Empire Room Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria”.

I wondered if this panel would ever have occurred had it not been for those meetings in the early 1990’s in Marjorie and the late Arnold Pfeffer’s living room that included Mark Solms, Jimmy Schwartz, Ed Nersessian and others.

Neuro-psychoanalysis was born, our Journal Neuro-Psychoanalysis was launched and the International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Society was founded. These groundbreaking efforts were the result of an enormous amount of personal energy, time and funds contributed by those who were committed to our mission and its role in the future of psychoanalysis.

These people believed that neuro-psychoanalysis would develop and transform Freud’s work making it even more useful and effective to the many who suffer from psychological symptoms, to children inappropriately diagnosed, or to the brain injured patients who sometimes are treated as if they have no personhood or self. As Mark Solms continually reminds us, “The brain is a unique organ – it’s not a liver. It has agency. It has subjectivity. It has soul.”

I also found myself reminding friends and colleagues at the meetings of the Neuro-Psychoanalysis Society’s “Year of Freud”, with our May 6th events in New York, our research, our 7th Annual Congress in Los Angeles this summer and our fundraising efforts. People know what we are doing, are enthusiastic and want to know more.

To date, we have raised close to $100,000 since last May when we began, and for this we thank many of you who have contributed. Our Research Fellowships, projects and programs are essential, and expensive. One part-time Fellowship alone costs $25-$35,000. We need your help toward our goal of 100% participation of our members in this first Annual Campaign that will end at our July Congress in Los Angeles.

Our acknowledging Freud’s 150th Birthday is about celebrating not only his work, but also our own. I keep wondering how Freud would respond to what we have accomplished. Years ago while taking piano lessons for the first time as an adult, I was destroying a piece by Bach; I said to my teacher that Bach would spin in his grave if he knew how horribly I was playing his music. “No”, my teacher said, “he would be moved that after all these years you still wanted to play his music.”

I believe Freud, perhaps uncomfortable with the attention, would be moved by our efforts. Help us carry on this work.

Warm regards, Mark

Mark D. Smaller, Ph.D.
Director, Neuro-Psychoanalysis Foundation
1185 Park Avenue #7B
New York, New York 10128

Click here to make a donation

London: The International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Centre, 21 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SD, UK
New York: The Neuro-Psychoanalysis Foundation, Apt 7B, 1185 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10128, USA.

November 4th, 2005

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Chicago White Sox had the best record in the American League right up to the playoffs. Yet critics and doubters said they would not make it to the playoffs, much less win a Pennant, and certainly not the World Series.

On October 26th the Sox became World Champions sweeping the Series with 4 straight wins over the Houston Astros.

Neuro-psychoanalysis, though a young ‘team’ continues to have its critics and doubters. Consider these quotes from a recent discussion on a members list of the American Psychoanalytic Association:

“We say that mind emerges from brain in order to pretend that we know something about the mind-brain relationship that in fact we don’t know. We only believe it.”

“What happens between two people when they meet depends on so many immeasurable things that determine if they will become friends, lovers, patients, enemies, non-entities etc. Will neuroscience contribute or take us on a detour to discovering who is amenable to analytic work?”

“I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact that most of the neuroscientific research done these days is being used to promote an ideology that treats not only symptoms but also disturbing emotions as devoid of significant personal meanings.”

“Not that the brain is not involved in processes of growth and development, but that the guiding force for this growth and development is very difficult to locate within the brain.”

Your support for our research and voice in the analytic community and beyond is needed now more than ever. We can answer those uninformed about who we are and what empirical research we are doing.

For the many of you who have already given, a big “Thank you.”

For those who have not, please help us attain our goal of 100% participation in our first Annual Campaign.

Of course all those White Sox critics and doubters are now saying what a great team the Sox are, and, what Henry James would have predicted, “that they knew it all along.”

Those of us committed to neuro-psychoanalysis and psychoanalysis want the same result. Join us.

We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles at our 7th Annual Congress, July 21-23rd,2006.

Best regards…Mark D. Smaller
Director, Neuro-Psychoanalysis Foundation

Click here to make a donation

London: The International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Centre, 21 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SD, UK
New York: The Neuro-Psychoanalysis Foundation, Apt 7B, 1185 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10128, USA.

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