The conscious id

Solms, M. (2013). The conscious id. Neuropsychoanalysis15(1), 5-19.


Two aspects of the body are represented in the brain, and they are represented differently. The most important difference is that the brain regions for the two aspects of the body are associated with different aspects of consciousness. Very broadly speaking, the brainstem mechanisms derived from the autonomic body are associated with affective consciousness, and the cortical mechanisms derived from the sensorimotor body are associated with cognitive consciousness. Moreover, the upper brainstem is intrinsically conscious whereas the cortex is not; it derives its consciousness from the brainstem. These facts have substantial implications for psychoanalytic metapsychology because the upper brainstem (and associated limbic structures) performs the functions that Freud attributed to the id, while the cortex (and associated forebrain structures) performs the functions he attributed to the ego. This means that the id is the fount of consciousness and the ego is unconscious in itself. The basis for these conclusions, and some of their implications, are discussed here in a preliminary fashion. Keywords: affect; cognition; conscious; ego; id; unconscious

Mentalizing homeostasis: The social origins of interoceptive inference

Fotopoulou, A., & Tsakiris, M. (2017). Mentalizing homeostasis: The social origins of interoceptive inference. Neuropsychoanalysis19(1), 3-28.
Is the self already relational in its very bodily foundations? The question of whether our mental life is initially and primarily shaped by embodied dimensions of the individual or by interpersonal relations is debated in many fields, including psychology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and more recently, cognitive neuroscience. In this interdisciplinary target article, we put forward the radical claim that even some of the most minimal aspects of selfhood, namely the feeling qualities associated with being an embodied subject, are fundamentally shaped by embodied interactions with other people in early infancy and beyond. Such embodied interactions allow the developing organism to mentalize its homeostatic regulation. In other words, embodied interactions contribute directly to the building of mental models of the infant’s physiological states, given the need to maintain such states within a given dynamic range despite internal or external perturbations. Specifically, our position rests on the following three propositions: (1) the progressive integration and organization of sensory and motor signals constitutes the foundations of the minimal self, a process which we have linked to contemporary, computational models of brain function and named “embodied mentalization”; (2) interactions with other people are motivated and constrained by the same principles that govern the “mentalization” of sensorimotor signals in the individual – and hence the mentalization of one’s body can include signals from other bodies in physical proximity and interaction, especially in interaction with particular bodies. (3) Crucially, given the dependency of humans in early infancy, there is a “homeostatically necessary” plethora of such embodied “proximal” interactions, especially as regards interoception. Collectively, such experiences of proximal intercorporeality “sculpt” the mentalization process and hence the constitution of the minimal self, including the progressive sophistication of mental distinctions between “subject-object,” “self-other” and even “pleasure-pain.” Finally, we explore notions of cardiac and more broadly interoceptive awareness as later, cognitive acquisitions that allow us to progressively solidify such distinctions, as well as understand and empathise with other people.
self; affect; emotion; awareness; social cognition; touch; interoception; intersubjectivity; embodiment; skin ego; minimal self

Homeostasis, society, and values

Mukerjee, R. (1966). Homeostasis, society, and values. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research27(1), 74-79.


Freud and Homeostasis

Walker, N. (1956). Freud and homeostasis. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science7(25),

Instincts and homeostasis

Kubie, L. S. (1948). Instincts and homeostasis. Psychosomatic Medicine, 10, 15–30.


In an objective re-evaluation of the concept of instinct, the author supports two of Freud’s largely neglected contributions that instincts must be classified on a physiological rather than on a psychological basis and that they represent a demand made by the body on the mental apparatus. No absolute distinctions can be made between instincts and drives; differences are rather quantitative than qualitative. Instincts can be arranged in a hierarchy “from a preponderance of biochemical influences on the neuronal pattern to a preponderance of psychologic influence.”

Homeostasis as an explanatory principle in psychology

Fletcher, J. M. (1942). Homeostasis as an explanatory principle in psychology. Psychological Review, 49(1), 80–87.


Cannon originated the term homeostasis to describe the tendency of organisms to maintain stability or uniformity in their body states. By an extension of the principle, it might be used to describe the already demonstrated tendency to maintain status at the mental level of behavior, even in anticipation of the disturbing conditions. Instances of the usefulness of the term are drawn from such fields as perception (constancy), habit formation, learning, reasoning, work level (level of aspiration), and personality adjustment, to explain such mechanisms as rationalization and compensation.


Homeostasis, discrepancy, dissonance. A theory of motives and motivation

Stagner, R. (1977). Homeostasis, discrepancy, dissonance. Motivatíon and emotion1(2), 103-138.


The argument is presented that motivation is equated to energy mobilization, and that the mechanism involved in all such instances of arousal is a discrepancy-detecting and -reducing mechanism. Motives are specific categories of discrepancy but they operate through a common arousal system. This system, further, may be coopted into (integrated into) processes involving social comparison, relative deprivation, discrepancies with respect to ego-involved persons and objects, and industrial, social, and political motives. While biological homeostasis provides the basic CNS system, other forms of discrepancy-triggered energy arousal must be recognized as important. Hedonism and theories of curiosity, as well as other similar factors, can be subsumed under discrepancy theory.

Homeostasis as a fundamental principle for a coherent theory of brains

Turner, J. S. (2019). Homeostasis as a fundamental principle for a coherent theory of brains. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B374(1774), 20180373.Screen Shot 2020-05-21 at 10.08.40

Human Nature, Homeostasis, and Value

Kurtz, P. (1956). Human Nature, Homeostasis, and Value. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 17(1), 36-55. doi:10.2307/2104686


Homeostasis in Neuroscience


Some commentaries from the neurosciences point of view about the relations between citizens and public agencies

A. F. Rocha, State University of Campinas, Brazil

Research on Artificial and Natural Intelligence


The success story continues making Nudge well read and much applied. The key message is that people are irrational on their decision making and need to be guided by policy markers, which are able to have useful insights from Psychology and Behavioral Economics about how to elaborate choice structures to rationalize people’s financial behavior. Inertia is one popular of these insights and refers to the tendency of humans to procrastinate in making choices. This tendency is acknowledged but not understood and explained. The same occurs with other reported insights. In contrast, the present paper proposes any decision guaranteeing the individual biological; psychological and social homeostasis are rational despite being or not the expected decision supported by any formal model. Most of the important human decisions are about keeping homeostasis within boundaries promoting well being, hence resulting from complex analyses of benefits; risks and costs from both the personal and social point of view as carried out by two different Personal and Social Decision Networks. Rational choice selects, therefore, high beneficial goods or services for promoting homeostasis at lowest risk and cost from both personal and social point of views. A decision neural model for decision making is presented and used to illustrate how rational choices are computed to guarantee individual homeostasis, and to propose that individuals seem to be irrational because the proposed economic formal theories take into consideration just the policy maker point of view disregarding the individual needs.

Keywords: Decision Making, Brain, Economic Psychology, Behavioral Economy, Neurosciences, Nudge

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