Mariella Battipaglia

The Encounter Between Complex Analytical Psychology and Neuroscience: Affects, Body and Representability

The 'inseparability' of the psyche from the body, the vision of the libido as a self-organizing drive, the teleological conception of the unconscious and his relationship with consciousness, the organizational role of affectivity, the attention to the patient's history and to the cultural determinants that define his environment, are elective dimensions of complex analytical psychology that connote a strategic intersection with contemporary neuroscience.

Especially the role of affectivity, with its corporeal roots and the teleological conception of the unconscious, is well expressed in Jungian theory, as is the "mutual intimate permeation of physical and psychic manifestations". The affect, starting from the raw traces of internal sensory intervenes in the processes of attention and salience and with its interactions with memory systems, interfering with the flow of connectivity between undirected thought and executive functions. Our and each other's body occupies an important part in the analysis room, both when we can be aware of it and when we can "forget" about it. Probably the analyst's sensitivity to the body is also linked to the specificity of professional experiences with specific pathologies (anorexia, epilepsy, panic attack disorders, etc.).

The bodily reactions mobilized by the encounter with the patient, the body as a catalyst of split and projected parts, the body as a receiver of raw elements that still cannot be represented, narrated or symbolized: sometimes it is through the analyst's body that fundamental elements for the work and for the understanding of the patient's experience find the way to express themselves and to be brought, through the process of rêverie, to representability and therefore can enter the scenario of the mind.

The psychopathology of trauma shows how sensory and emotional memories escape symbolization, by calling into question a bodily expression in the phenomena of transference and counter-transference as possible revelations of the dissociability of the integrative dialogue between body and mind.  Dreams, the reappearance of bodily symptoms during the session, reveries, even bodily ones, constitute an observable plot also to highlight relationships between the Ego complex and autonomous complexes, which are activated in moments of "recall" of affective dysregulations, interrupting the flow "body-relationship-representation-word" in the analytic field co-created by the patient-analyst dyad.


Mariella Battipaglia: Graduated in medicine, specialist in psychiatry, Supervising, Training Analyst and Teacher at Jung Institute AIPA -Rome, IAAP member; Specialist in Relational Psychosomatic, teacher and cofounder of the Institute of Integrated Relational Therapy - ITRI. She works as teacher, Jungian analyst and as coordinator and supervisor of multidisciplinary medical-psychotherapy teams.

Recent Publications

  • 2022: M. Battipaglia - G. Curatola in the process of publication, book chapter: "The body roots of traumatic experience: from unsymbolized body memory to body rêverie". In “The complexity of trauma”, AA.VV. Routledge ed.
  • 2021: M. Battipaglia - G. Curatola. Article under review at the JAP: "Bodily Rêverie in the light of the dialogue between analytical psychology and neuroscience".


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