Howard Shevrin, Ph.D.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Award Year: 2003

shervin_50Howard Shevrin has been described by Robert Wallerstein (Sigourney Award recipient in 1991) as a “pioneering member of an all too small cadre of empirical researchers” in psychoanalysis. For more than forty years Dr. Shevrin has pushed at the boundaries between the disciplines of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, looking for evidence that Freudians concepts such as the unconscious and repression could be documented through physical measures of brain activity. His work explores the territory where neurobiology, thoughts, emotions and behavior meet.

In 1968 he published, in the Journal of Science, the first report of brain responses to unconscious visual stimuli, thus providing strong objective evidence for the existence of the unconscious at a time when most scientists were skeptical of Freud’s ideas. In that same study, he showed that unconscious perceptions are processed in different ways from conscious perceptions, a finding consistent with Freud’s views on how the unconscious works. He also led a study that suggested a link between repressive personality traits and a longer than average delay between the application of a stimulus and the conscious awareness of that stimulus. Another study by Dr. Shevrin and his colleagues found brain markers for unconscious factors at work in producing social phobias.

Dr. Shevrin is the author of over 150 publications, including an award winning psychoanalytic novel in verse form, The Dream Interpreters.