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Farmington Hills: 248 851-3380 |  Ann Arbor: 734 213-3399

Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Self and Other Are Two Sides of the Same Coin: How the Brain's Shared Circuits Influence the Transference and Countertransference


Regina Pally, M.D.
Member and Faculty of the New Center for Psychoanalysis
Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California
Los Angeles Department of Psychiatry

Saturday, April 17, 2010
2:00 - 4:00 PM
2 CME and CE Credit Hours
Farmington Hills
For more information, please call Monica Simmons at 248-851-3380

The neuroscience model of "shared circuitry" indicates that we know others in terms of our self. The brain pathways that are active when we process self-related information become active when we process other-related information. The best studied "shared circuit" is called the Mirror Neuron System. Others exist as well in the Medial Pre-frontal Cortex and in the Somato-sensory Cortex. As a result of  "shared circuitry", when we observe others perform an intentional behavior we represent their behavior, intent and affect in our own motor system, as if we were performing that same action. When we observe an emotional facial expression or gesture, we represent the movement and affect state in our own motor and limbic system, as if we were feeling that emotion. Similarly when we observe another person being lightly touched, or in pain, we represent the sensory or pain experience in our own somato-sensory cortex or anterior cingulate cortex, as if we were being touched or in pain. Mirror Neurons and other shared circuits operate outside of conscious awareness and are the processes which underlie Theory of Mind, Reflective Function, Intuition and Imitation. They are relevant to psychoanalytic concepts such as Internalization, Projection, Empathy, Transference/Counter-transference enactment, and are important contributions to interpretation.

By the end of this presentation, attendees will be able to:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of the shared circuitry of self and other, in general, and mirror neurons, in particular
2. Recognize how they make possible empathy and understanding the thoughts, needs and desires of others
3. Use these ideas in the clinical setting in relation to transference and counter-transference

About the presenter:
Dr. Pally has written extensively and taught numerous courses on the interface of psychoanalysis and neuroscience for the last 16 years, with an emphasis on the neurobiology of social relationships. Additionally, Dr. Pally has a private practice of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. She has a number of honors including a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a recipient of the Sigourney Award for her contributions to psychoanalysis.  Her most recent interest is the non-profit organization called The Center for Reflective Parenting, of which she is a founding member and executive co-director. In this new role, she is applying her knowledge of psychoanalysis and neuroscience in a way that helps parents and children in the community. CRP uses a model of parenting that is attachment based and seeks to enhance parental mentalization.