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Bazan, A. (2023). Primary and secondary process mentation: Two modes of acting and thinking from Freud to modern neurosciences. Neuropsychoanalysis, DOI: 1080/15294145.2023.2284697


The purpose of this study is to return to Freud’s original descriptions of the primary and secondary processes in the light of modern neurosciences. In his Project for a Scientific Psychology, Freud draws the axes of the architecture of a mental apparatus: on a horizontal plane, the primary process transfers the excitation by impinging stimuli over a sequence of analogous states towards their discharge; thus, the primary process is essentially characterized by its associative tendency. On a vertical plane, the secondary process opposes the primary bottom-up pressure by a top-down inhibition with its origins in the purposive idea: the secondary process is essentially characterized by its inhibitory interventions. Freud later proposed that the primary and secondary process are seeking for perceptual, respectively thought identity. These different elements are coherent with the dynamics of the ventral and dorsal brain pathways respectively. Moreover, the dorsal pathway has an inhibitory influence upon the ventral pathway, much like the secondary has upon the primary. This influence is exerted thanks to what Freud called the “indications of reality.” We propose to equate these indications with the efference copies in modern neurosciences since they proceed from the same physiology and have the same function, besides originating from the same Helmholtzian source. Finally, even if both primary and secondary processes serve the death drive through the pleasure and the reality principle respectively, only the secondary process, requiring the bearing of an accumulation of excitations, also serves the life drive.

Résumé en Français : L’objectif de cette étude est de revenir aux descriptions originales de Freud des processus primaires et secondaires à la lumière des neurosciences modernes. Dans son Projet de psychologie scientifique, Freud dessine les axes de l’architecture d’un appareil mental : sur un plan horizontal, le processus primaire transfère l’excitation en faisant entrer des stimuli sur une séquence d’états analogues vers leur décharge ; Ainsi, le processus primaire est essentiellement caractérisé par sa tendance associative. Sur un plan vertical, le processus secondaire s’oppose à la pression primaire ascendante par une inhibition descendante qui trouve son origine dans l’idée téléologique : le processus secondaire est essentiellement caractérisé par ses interventions inhibitrices. Freud a proposé plus tard que le processus primaire et secondaire sont la recherche d’une identité perceptuelle, respectivement de la pensée. Ces différents éléments sont cohérents avec la dynamique des voies cérébrales ventrales et dorsales respectivement. De plus, la voie dorsale a une influence inhibitrice sur la voie ventrale, tout comme la voie secondaire sur la voie primaire. Cette influence s’exerce grâce à ce que Freud appelait les « indications de la réalité ». Nous proposons d’assimiler ces indications aux copies d’efférence des neurosciences modernes puisqu’elles procèdent de la même physiologie et ont la même fonction, en plus de provenir de la même source helmholtzienne. Enfin, même si les processus primaires et secondaires servent respectivement la pulsion de mort par le principe de plaisir et le principe de réalité, seul le processus secondaire, nécessitant l’accumulation d’une accumulation d’excitations, sert également la pulsion de vie.

Olyff, G., & Bazan, A. (2023). People solve rebuses unwittingly – both forward and backward: Empirical evidence for the mental effectiveness of the signifier. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 16. DOI=10.3389/fnhum.2022.965183

Bazan, A., & Brakel, L.A.W. (2023). The GeoCat 1.3, a simple tool for the measurement of Freudian primary and secondary process thinking. Neuropsychoanalysis. DOI: 10.1080/15294145.2023.2169955

Thieffry, L., Olyff, G., Pioda, L., Detandt, S., & Bazan, A. (2023). Running away from phonological ambiguity, we stumble upon our words – Laboratory Induced Slips show differences between high and low defensive people. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 1717:1033671. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2023.1033671

Polipo, N.F., Willemsen, J., Hustinx, M., Bazan, A. (2023). Developing psychoanalytic case conceptualization skills through didactic teaching: A randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy Research, DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2023.2241623.

Bazan, A., Olyff, G., Steinig, J., Van de Vijver, G. (2023). On Rebuses, and on Howie. In: The Science of Psychoanalysis: The Realization of Freud’s Promise. Festschrift in Honor of Howard Shevrin, Robert Hunt Berry, editor, pp. 55-72.


Bazan, A. & Van de Vijver, G., Caine, D. (2021). Lacanian neuropsychoanalysis. On the role of language motor dynamics for language processing, and for mental constitution. Dans: Christian Salas, Oliver Turnbull and Mark Solms (Eds.) Clinical Studies in Neuropsychoanalysis 2, Routledge.

In the first volume of Clinical Neuropsychoanalysis, Kaplan-Solms and Solms (2001) compare a patient with a Broca-type aphasia, Mr. J, and one with a Wernicke-type aphasia, Mrs. K. Broadly speaking, the authors find that Mr. J’s ‘ego functioning’ is ‘normal’, i.e. that he can reappraise and adjust to changed realities, even if he has enormous difficulties expressing himself verbally, while Mrs. K’s speech production is fluent but she often ‘goes blank’ mentally, being unable both to understand non-idiomatic speech and to bring her own speech intentions into execution. The authors conclude that (1) “The motor aspect of the word, then, and therefore the motor com- ponent of the speech apparatus – Broca’s area – (…) is little more than an output channel for the ego’s complex workings; its role in verbal thinking is superfluous.” (p. 89; their italics) and (2) “the auditory-component of word presentation does participate in some way in the executive functioning of the ego.” (p. 114). In what follows we will spell out how, to the contrary, in our view the motor component of the speech apparatus is actually constitutive of access to symbolic language (and hence of ego-functioning), while the auditory component is no more than an auxiliary for this access. Having done so, we provide an alternative explanation for Mrs. K’s mental failures and Mr. J’s mental robustness, in terms of dorsal and ventral language pathways, and of secondary and primary processing, in place of the traditional framework of Broca’s and Wernicke’s aphasias.

in: Clinical Studies in Neuropsychoanalysis Revisited

Edited by Christian Salas, Oliver Turnbull and Mark Solms,
In the past few decades, we have accumulated an impressive amount of knowledge regarding the neural basis of the mind. One of the most important sources of this knowledge has been the in-depth study of individuals with focal brain damage and other neurological disorders. This book offers a unique perspective, in that it uses a combination of neuropsychology and psychoanalytic knowledge from diverse schools (Freudian, Kleinian, Lacanian, Relational, etc.), to explore how damage to specific areas of the brain can change the mind. Twenty years after the publication of Clinical Studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis, this book continues the pioneering work of Mark Solms and Karen Kaplan-Solms, bringing together clinicians and researchers from all over the world to report key developments in the field. They present a rich set of new case studies, from a diverse range of brain injuries, neuropsychological impairments and even degenerative and paediatric pathologies. This volume will be of immense value to those working with neurological populations that want to incorporate psychoanalytic ideas in case formulations, as well as for those who want to introduce themselves in the neurological basis of psychoanalytic models of the mind and the broader psychoanalytic community.


Bruxelmane, J., Shin, J., Olyff, G. & Bazan, A. (2020). Eyes wide shut: primary process opens up. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 145. DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00145


Balchin, R., Barry, V., Bazan, A., Blechner, M. J., Clarici, A., Mosri, D. F., Fotopoulou, A., Goergen, M. S., Kessler, R., Matthis, I., Zúñiga, J. F. M., Northoff, G., Olds, D., Oppenheim, L., Reismann-Lagrèze, D., Tsakiris, M., Watt, D., Yeates, G., & Zellner, M. (2019). Reflections on 20 years of Neuropsychoanalysis. Neuropsychoanalysis, 21(2), 89-123. DOI: 1080/15294145.2019.1695978

Vanheule, S., Adriaens, P., Bazan, A., Bracke, P., Devisch, I., Feys, J-L., Froyen, B., Gerard, S., Nieman, D., Van Os, J., & Calmeyn, M. (2019). Belgian Governmental Superior Health Council advises against the use of the DSM categories and promotes contextualising psychiatric diagnosis. The Lancet Psychiatry, v6, 726.

Bazan, A., Kushwaha, R., Winer, E.S., Snodgrass, J.M., Brakel, L.A.W, Shevrin, H. (2019). Phonological ambiguity detection outside of consciousness, and its defensive avoidance. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 13, doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00077

Bazan, A., Jorge Mendes, S., Antoine-Moussiaux, J., Prys, D. (2019, February 18). Empirical evidence for psychic transparency in pregnancy. Psychoanalytic Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pap0000212


Bazan, A. & Poenaru, L. (2018). « Le lieu vide comme garant de liberté et de changement. Entretien avec Ariane Bazan ». In analysis (2) 87-92.

Bazan, A. (2018). Psychoanalysis and academia: Psychoanalysis at the crossroads between exact and human sciences, International Forum of Psychoanalysis, DOI: 10.1080/0803706X.2017.1392040


Van de Vijver, G., Bazan, A., Detandt, S. (2017). The Mark, the Thing, and the Object: On What Commands Repetition in Freud and Lacan. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 2244. DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02244

Steinig, J., Bazan, A. Happe, S., Antonetti, S., Shevrin, H. (2017). Processing of a subliminal rebus during sleep: Idiosyncratic primary versus secondary process associations upon awakening of REM- versus non-REM-sleep. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1955. DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01955

Detandt, S., Bazan, A., Quertemont, E., & Verbanck, P. (2017). Smoking addiction the shift from head to hands. Approach bias towards smoking-related cues in low dependent versus dependent smokers. Journal of Psychopharmacology; 31(7):819-829. doi: 10.1177/0269881117699606.

Detandt, S., Bazan, A., Schroder, E., Olyff, G., Kajosch, H., Verbanck, P., & Campanella, S. (2017). A smoking-related background helps smokers to focus. An Event-Related Potentials study during a Go-NoGo Task in smokers. Clinical Neurophysiology, 128, 1872-1885.  pdf

Bazan, A. (2017). Alpha synchronization as a brain model for unconscious defense: An overview of the work of Howard Shevrin and his team.  The International Journal of Psychoanalysis doi:10.1111/1745-8315.12629 .    pdf IJP 2017


Bazan, A. & Detandt, S. (2017). The grand challenge for psychoanalysis and neuropsychoanalysis: a science of the subject. Frontiers in Psychology 8, 1259 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01259.   

Detandt, S., Leys, C. & Bazan, A., (2017). A French Translation of the Pleasure Arousal Dominance (PAD) Semantic Differential Scale for the Measure of Affect and Drive. Psychologica Belgica, 57(1), 17–31.  DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.340


Mosri, D. F., Axmacher, N., Bazan, A. & Kessler, R. J. (2016). Continued Dialogue on The Oxford-style Debate from the 15th Annual Congress of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society New York City, 2014, Neuropsychoanalysis, 18(1), 69-77.


Bazan, A. (2015). The Role of Biology in the Advent of Psychology. Neuropsychoanalysis and the Foundation of a Mental Level of Causality. In: Neuroscience and Critique: Exploring the Limits or Neurological Turn. Jan De Vos et Ed Pluth, 173-187.

Claes, S., Vanbouwel, V., Haekens, A., Eneman, M., Otte, G., De Lepeleire, J., Calmeyn, M., Bazan, A., & Lemmens, W. (2015). Euthanasia for psychiatric patients: ethical and legal concerns about the Belgian practice. BMJ Open 5:7 e007454 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007454 (IF : 2.413)

Bazan, A. & Detandt, S. (2015). Trauma and jouissance, a neuropsychoanalytic perspective. Journal of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research (JCFAR), 26, 99-127.

Bazan, A. (2015). Speaking to the subject or speaking to the function: each address requires its proper terms – Commentary. The Oxford-style debate: the 15th neuropsychoanalysis congress, New York, 2014: “This house believes that neuroscientific terms must never replace psychoanalytic ones”. Neuropsychoanalysis. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15294145.2015.1038131


Bazan, A. (2013). Repression as the condition for consciousness. Invited commentary on : “The conscious Id”, M. Solms. Neuropsychoanalysis, 25, 1, 20-24

Bazan, A. & Detandt, S. (2013).  On the physiology of jouissance: interpreting the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward functions from a psychoanalytic perspective. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00709

Shevrin, H., Snodgrass, M., Brakel, L.A., Kushwaha, R., Kalaida, N.L., Bazan, A. (2013). Subliminal unconscious conflict alpha power inhibits supraliminal conscious symptom experience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 5, 7, 544. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00544.

Bazan, A., Van Draege, K., De Kock, L., Brakel, L.A.W., Geerardyn, F., Shevrin, H. (2013). Empirical evidence for primary process mentation in acute psychosis. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 30(1), 57-74.  pdf


Bazan, A. (2012). From sensorimotor inhibition to Freudian repression: insights from psychosis applied to neurosis.  Frontiers in Psychology3, 452.

Bazan, A. & Snodgrass, M. (2012). On unconscious inhibition Instantiating repression in the brain. In: A. Fotopoulou, D.W. Pfaff, & E. M. Conway (Eds.), Trends in Psychodynamic Neuroscience, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 307-337. Unconscious inhibition pdf


Bazan, A. (2011). The grand challenge for psychoanalysis – and neuropsychoanalysis: taking on the game. Frontiers in Psychology, 2,220.

Bazan, A. (2011). Phantoms in the voice. A neuropsychoanalytic hypothesis on the structure of the unconscious. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 13, 2, 161-176.

Heenen-Wolff, S., Verougstraete, A., & Bazan, A. (2011). The Belgo-Belgian Conflict in Individual Narratives: Psychodynamics of Trauma in the History of Belgium. Memory Studies, November 16, 2011Belgium

Vanheule, S., Roelstraete, B., Geerardyn, F., Murphy, C., Bazan, A., Brakel, L.A.W. (2011). Construct validation and internal consistency of the geometric categorization task (GEOCAT) for measuring primary and secondary processes. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28, 2, 209-228.


Bazan, A. (2010). Howard Shevrin and the Shevrin Lab. In Ariane Bazan (Ed.), Conversations with Howard Shevrin: His work, his research, his ideas (217-228). Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, Ghent: Department of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Consulting, University of Ghent. (Howard Shevrin and the Shevrin lab 217-228)

Bazan, A. (2010). Conversations with Howard Shevrin I: Ann Arbor, December 8th, 2004. In Ariane Bazan (Ed.), Conversations with Howard Shevrin: His work, his research, his ideas (229-246). Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, Ghent: Department of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Consulting, University of Ghent. (Bazan Conversations with Howard Shevrin)

Bazan, A. (2010). Conversations with Howard Shevrin II: Ann Arbor, June 17th, 2005. In Ariane Bazan (Ed.), Conversations with Howard Shevrin: His work, his research, his ideas (247-269). Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, Ghent: Department of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Consulting, University of Ghent. (20 3 Bazan Conversations with Howard Shevrin II PP 2010)

Bazan, A. (2010). Conversations with Howard Shevrin III: Ghent, December 1st, 2005. In Ariane Bazan (Ed.), Conversations with Howard Shevrin: His work, his research, his ideas (271-308). Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, Ghent: Department of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Consulting, University of Ghent. (Bazan Conversations with Howard Shevrin III)

Shevrin, H., Snodgrass, M., Abelson, J., Brakel, L., Kushwaha, R., Briggs, H., Bazan, A. (2010). Evidence for Unconscious, Perceptual Avoidance in Phobic Fear. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 33S.


Bazan, A. (2009). Not to be confused on free association. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 11, 2, 163-165.  Spence + comments


Bazan, A. (2008). A mind for resolving the interior-exterior distinctions. Dans: D. Dietrich, G. Fodor, G. Zucker & D. Bruckner (éds.), Simulating the Mind. The Mental Apparatus – A Technical Neuropsychoanalytical Approach. (Engeneering and Neuro-Psychoanalysis Forum Book). Springer, Wien, 394-399.


Bazan, A. (2007). An attempt towards an integrative comparison of psychoanalytical and sensorimotor control theories of action. In: P. Haggard, Y. Rossetti & M. Kawato (eds.), Attention and Performance XXII. Oxford University Press, 319-338. 

Bazan, A., Shevrin, H., Brakel, L.A.W., Snodgrass, M. (2007). Motivations and Emotions Contribute to A-Rational Unconscious Dynamics Evidence and Conceptual Clarification. Cortex, 43,1104-1105.


Bazan, A. (2006). Primary process language. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 8, 2,157-159.

Villa, K.K., Shevrin, H., Snodgrass, M., Bazan, A., Brakel, L.A.W. (2006). Testing Freud’s hypothesis that word forms and word meanings are functionally distinct in the unconscious: Subliminal primary process cognition and its links to personality. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 8(2),117-135.


Bazan, A., Van Bunder, D. (2005). Some comments on the emotional and motor dynamics of language embodiment. A neurophysiological understanding of the Freudian Unconscious. In: H. De Preester & V. Knockaert (eds.), Body Image & Body Schema, interdisciplinary perspectives. John Benjamins: 49-107.

Knockaert, V., Geerardyn, F., Van de Vijver, G., Van Bunder, D., Bazan, A. (2004). Trauma as an Encounter With the Real. International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems, 16, 81-91.


Bazan, A. (2002). The unconscious as affect sticking to phonology. Considerations on the role of articulation. Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, 20(4), 579-590.

Bazan, A., Geerardyn, F., Knockaert, V., Van Bunder, D., Van de Vijver, G. (2002). Language as the source of human unconscious processes.  Evolution and Cognition, 8(2), 164-171.

Bazan, A., Geerardyn, F., Knockaert, V., Van Bunder, D., Van de Vijver, G. (2002). Anticipation as exercising (language) motor programs during dreams. A neuropsychoanalytical hypothesis. In: International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems, 12 (D. M. Dubois, Ed.), CHAOS, Liège: 181-194.

Geerardyn, F., Van de Vijver, G., Knockaert, V., Bazan, A., Van Bunder, D. (2002). “How do I know what I think till hear what I say”: On the emergence of consciousness between the biological and the social. Evolution and Coginition 8(2), 249-255. 

Geerardyn, F., Knockaert, V., Van de Vijver, G., Van Bunder, D., Bazan, A. (2002). Anticipation, the Subject and the Partial Object. A Psychoanalytical Approach, Casys. International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems 12, 222-229.34.

Knockaert, V., Geerardyn, F., Van de Vijver, G., Van Bunder, D., Bazan, A. (2002). Anticipation, Memory and Attention in the Early Works of Freud, Casys. International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems. 12, 241-253 pdf

Van Bunder, D., Knockaert, V., Van de Vijver, G., Geerardyn, F., Bazan, A. (2002). The Return of the Repressed, Anticipation and the Logic of the Signifier, Casys. International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems, 12, 293-301.

Van de Vijver, G., Knockaert, V., Van Bunder, D., Bazan, A., Geerardyn, F. (2002). Anticipation and identification a comment on Lacan’s Mirror Stage, Casys. International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems, 12, 301-315.

Van de Vijver, G., Van Bunder, D., Knockaert, V., Bazan, A.,  Geerardyn, F. (2002). The role of closure in a dynamic structuralist viewpoint of psychic systems. Evolution and Cognition, 8(2), 262-271.


Bazan, A., Van de Velde, E., de Paepe, B., Fraeyman, N. (2000). Properties of the ventricular adrenergic signal transduction system during ontogeny of spontaneous hypertension in rats. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 35(4), 653-663.

Bazan, A., Van Emmelo, J., Fraeyman, N. (2000). G-proteins in kidneys of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Life Sciences, 66(6), 511-520.

Fraeyman, N., Vande Velde, E., Van Ermen, A., Bazan, A., Vanderheyden, P., Van Emmelo, J., Vandekerckhove, J. (2000). Effect of maturation and aging on ß-adrenergic signal tranduction in rat kidney and liver. Biochemical Pharmacology, 60, 1787-1795.


Bazan, A., Fraeyman, N. (1996). Use of elastase as aninternal standard in immunoblotting techniques. Biochimie, 78, 273-276.


Bazan, A., Fraeyman, N. (1995). Ontogeny of Gs- and Gi-proteins in kidneys of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et de Thérapie, 329-343. 


Bazan, A., Fraeyman, N. (1994). Ontogeny of renal Gs-proteins in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Archives Internationales de Physiologie, de Biochimie et de Biophysique 102, B69. 

Fraeyman, N., Bazan, A. (1994). Characteristics of Gsa-proteins in heart of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Clinical Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology S1, S24.

Fraeyman, N., Bazan, A., Vanscheeuwijck, P. (1994). Thermodynamic analysis of isoproterenol binding to ß-adrenoceptors in rat lung membranes. European Journal of Pharmacology – Molecular Pharmacology, 267, 1, 63-69.

Bazan, A., Van de Velde, E., Fraeyman, N. (1994). Effect of age on ß-recptors, Gsa- and Gia-proteins in rat heart. Biochemical Pharmacology,  48, 3, 479-486.


Fraeyman, N.,Bazan, A. (1993). Aging and cardiac beta-adrenoceptors in two rat strains. Drug Design and Discovery, 9(3-4), 300.

Bazan, A., Fraeyman, N. (1993). Influence of age and hypertension of receptor-G-protein coupling in rat ventricle. Archives Internationales de Physiologie, de Biochimie et de Biophysique 101, B3.


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