Prof Mark Solms
Monday 9 October 2023
7.00pm – 8.00pm BST
Perceptual imagery and language dominates our conscious experience. These functions are performed by the cerebral cortex. Understandably, for this reason, we have for the past two centuries considered the cortex (which is uniquely well developed in human beings) to be the ‘organ of consciousness’. However, as early as 1949, evidence began to emerge which suggested that consciousness is a far more primitive function and that it arises endogenously from the inner most core of the ancient brain stem. The structures that were implicated are by no means uniquely human; we share them with all vertebrates. In this talk, evidence that has accumulated over the last 20 years will be presented to support the view that consciousness is neither a uniquely human nor cortical function, and that it arises fundamentally from raw feelings (like pleasure and pain) that we share even with fishes.
Mark Solms is a South African psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist, who is known for his discovery of the brain mechanisms of dreaming and his use of psychoanalytic methods in contemporary neuroscience. He holds the Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital (Departments of Psychology and Neurology) and is the President of the South African Psychoanalytical Association. He is also Research Chair of the International Psychoanalytical Association (since 2013).
Solms founded the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society in 2000 and he was a Founding Editor (with Ed Nersessian) of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis. He is Director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. He is also Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation in New York, a Trustee of the Neuropsychoanalysis Fund in London, and Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Trust in Cape Town (from Wikipedia).
Widely published, his most recent book (2021) is entitled “The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness”. Reviewing it in the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman wrote, “Nobody bewitched by [the mystery of consciousness] can afford to ignore the solution proposed by Mark Solms in The Hidden Spring.