The Brain

"I think the blood has really been getting into my brain at last. It is the oddest feeling, as though a dead part of me were coming to life." *

The role of the brain has been a source of contention between scholars in the humanities and sciences. For some, discussing Woolf in the context of brain science arouses fear that such discourse reduces the complexity of Woolf’s emotion, genius, and creative output to mere biological processes. However, this anxiety obscures the intricate nature of the brain. At maturity this organ holds nearly a billion nerve cells, the presence and function of which depend on both genes and the myriad of experiences individuals encounter during a lifetime. Genetic roulette, nutrition, relationships, culture, pleasure, trauma, biochemistry and neuroanatomy are among the many influences shaping the neurological contours regulating our emotions, moods, temperament, and artistry. Woolf’s brain, as she reflects in the above quote, is integral to her life, and by extension her craft.



Websites Explaining How the Brain Works:

The Brain From Top to Bottom

Learn about neuroanatomy.

Another introduction to the brain.

To learn more about brain scanning equipment go to PBS: The Secret Life of the Brain

Neuroscience Meets Freudian Psychoanalysis:

The Boston Neuropsychoanalysis Workshop

The International Psychoanalysis Centre




Goodwin, K.F. & Jamison, K. R. (2007). Manic Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. Oxford: Oxford University Press. PART IV: Chapters 13, 14, 15 & 16

Research Papers


___References for this Section____

* Woolf, V. (6 vols. 1975-80). The Letters of Virgina Woolf. (N. Nicolson and J. Trautmann, Eds.). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.