As a promising young Ivy League graduate, Casey Schwartz was unsure what she wanted to do with her life. Like so many of her gifted, fresh-out-of college peers, she felt paralyzed by the multitude of opportunities within reach. She had always had a knack for writing, but she was also fascinated by the burgeoning field of neuroscience and the many advances that were being made in the study of the brain's neurological wiring. At the same time, she had long been drawn to the more traditional study of not the brain, but the mind-the field of psychiatry.
And so with a vague idea of perhaps becoming a psychiatrist, she entered into a unique graduate program that combined the study of psychoanalysis at the Anna Freud Center in North London with the study of neuroscience at Yale. It was an unlikely pairing of old and new, and Casey was drawn in by the idea of spending year among the tweedy Freudians of Hampstead followed by a year working in the high-tech brain science labs of New Haven. It was an opportunity to survey the waters of a career path in psychiatry, to judge for herself what was going on at the opposite ends of the spectrum, and to consider the possibilities (if they existed) for integrating the two disciplines.
Upon her arrival at the Anna Freud Centre, a small, elegant, 19th century building that had once operated as a psychoanalytic clinic for children during World War II, she realized that her mission would be more challenging than she'd originally considered. The institute was, to a large degree, a place for hold-outs, increasingly unfashionable theorists in a world that had become smitten with multi-colored fMRIs and decoding the secrets of neurotransmitters. For hardcore Freudians, the increasing popularity of neuroscience brought unwelcome questions about long-held tenets of their own discipline.
But it was in London that Casey first met Mark Solms. A larger-than-life figure with somewhat of a cult following, Solms is both a psychoanalyst and a neuroscientist whose work is devoted uniting these two fields. His position-that the subtleties of the mind are lost in a reductionist study of the physical brain-was immediately appealing. To Casey, he was brilliant and magnetic; and she soon counted herself among his groupies.
The Neuro Diariestraces Casey's firsthand account of this pivotal time in the study of the human mind as she immerses herself in the academic and clinical worlds of brain study. Informed by the most cutting-edge research available and populated by some of the most prominent (and colorful) figures in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry,The Neuro Diariesis both a serious attempt to explore the ways in which these two very different sciences can intersect to create a richer understanding of the human brain, and also a very personal journey of a young women stumbling through the world of Freudian theory and brain scans, on a journey to discover insights into her own mind.
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CASEY SCHWARTZ is a graduate of Brown University and has a master's degree in psychodynamic neuroscience from University College London and Yale. She currently works as a staff writer for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, where she writes often about neuroscience, psychology, and other dispatches from the brain world. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Sun and the New York Times. She lives in Manhattan.
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