My punitive superego is lighting up my brain

This sentence actually appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry:

Carhart-Harris et al’s finding of activation of Cg25 region of the cingulate gyrus in profound depression is consistent with the idea of an interpersonally isolated and punitive superego desperately trying to prevent overwhelming Pankseppian modalities impulses of panic and rage from reaching consciousness.

Find that in a dead salmon neuroscience haters!

This curious interpretation appeared in a letter in the BJP arguing for how neuroscience supports Freudian psychology.

Link to letter in the BJP.


  1. Posted November 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    The letter is behind a paywall. I’m not interested enough to follow up on it, except to state here my respect for Panksepp in the context of “…overwhelming Pankseppian modalities impulses…” In an interview, Panksepp stated “If you don’t understand the foundational level, then you can do brain imaging until you’re blue in the face, but you still will not understand the process at a deep causal level.”

  2. Posted November 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Free article to be found here

  3. Posted November 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. Article excerpt: Jaak Panksepp has described the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system as the appetitive, motivational or ‘seeking’ system [68]. Panksepp et al since published ‘Comparative approaches in evolutionary psychology: molecular neuroscience meets the mind,” which won the same award Kohl et al received for publishing “Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology” in Neuroendocrinology Letters.

    The Kohl et al article links the epigenetic ‘landscape” to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genome of species from microbes to man via the unconscious effects of olfactory/pheromonal input on hormones that affect behavior. Thus the validity of a model of conserved molecular mechanisms of dopaminergic rewards that supposedly show up in brain imagery was already established before I published “Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model”

    The facts presented in that article are not subject to any interpretation outside their context, which is a direct link from the sensory environment to ecological, social, neurogenic and socio-cognitive niche construction via de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes and de novo creation of nutrient-dependent species-specific pheromone blends that control the physiology of reproduction.

    The balance between the dopaminergic and serotoninergic neuronal systems is, for example, nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled, which is why we may see evidence of that fact in brain imagery.

  4. Posted November 2, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    There is another brain region, the lateral habenula, that suits the purpose even better.…-a0190285173

  5. Posted November 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    “Consistent with the idea …” is an almost impossible to refute weasel phrase. the finding is also “consistent with the idea” that the jets will beat the saints this weekend (American football).

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