Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis
   1) The Ego Is Not Even Master in Its Own House
   [Psychoanalysis] seeks to prove to the ego that it is not even master in its own house, but must content itself with scanty information of what is going on unconsciously in the mind. (Freud, 1953-1974, Vol. 16, pp. 284-285)
   2) Methodological Problems of Psychoanalysis
   Although in the interview the analyst is supposedly a "passive" auditor of the "free association" narration by the subject, in point of fact the analyst does direct the course of the narrative. This by itself does not necessarily impair the evidential worth of the outcome, for even in the most meticulously conducted laboratory experiment the experimenter intervenes to obtain the data he is after. There is nevertheless the difficulty that in the nature of the case the full extent of the analyst's intervention is not a matter that is open to public scrutiny, so that by and large one has only his own testimony as to what transpires in the consulting room. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that this is not a question about the personal integrity of psychoanalytic practitioners. The point is the fundamental one that no matter how firmly we may resolve to make explicit our biases, no human being is aware of all of them, and that objectivity in science is achieved through the criticism of publicly accessible material by a community of independent inquirers. . . . Moreover, unless data are obtained under carefully standardized circumstances, or under different circumstances whose dependence on known variables is nevertheless established, even an extensive collection of data is an unreliable basis for inference. To be sure, analysts apparently do attempt to institute standard conditions for the conduct of interviews. But there is not much information available on the extent to which the standardization is actually enforced, or whether it relates to more than what may be superficial matters. (E. Nagel, 1959, pp. 49-50)
   3) No Necessary Incompatibility between Psychoanalysis and Certain Religious Formulations
   [T]here would seem to be no necessary incompatibility between psychoanalysis and those religious formulations which locate God within the self. One could, indeed, argue that Freud's Id (and even more Groddeck's It), the impersonal force within which is both the core of oneself and yet not oneself, and from which in illness one become[s] alienated, is a secular formation of the insight which makes religious people believe in an immanent God. (Ryecroft, 1966, p. 22)
   4) The Problem of Verifying Psychoanalytic Theory
   Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their "clinical observations." . . . It was precisely this fact-that they always fitted, that they were always confirmed-which in the eyes of their admirers constituted the strongest argument in favour of these theories. It began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness. . . . It is easy to obtain confirmations or verifications, for nearly every theory-if we look for confirmation. (Popper, 1968, pp. 3435)
   5) Psychoanalysis Is Not a Science But Rather the Interpretation of a Narrated History
   Psychoanalysis does not satisfy the standards of the sciences of observation, and the "facts" it deals with are not verifiable by multiple, independent observers. . . . There are no "facts" nor any observation of "facts" in psychoanalysis but rather the interpretation of a narrated history. (Ricoeur, 1974, p. 186)
   6) Some of the Qualities of a Scientific Approach Are Possessed by Psychoanalysis
   In sum: psychoanalysis is not a science, but it shares some of the qualities associated with a scientific approach-the search for truth, understanding, honesty, openness to the import of the observation and evidence, and a skeptical stance toward authority. (Breger, 1981, p. 50)
   7) Major Attributes of Psychoanalysis
   [Attributes of Psychoanalysis:]
   1. Psychic Determinism. No item in mental life and in conduct and behavior is "accidental"; it is the outcome of antecedent conditions.
   2. Much mental activity and behavior is purposive or goal-directed in character.
   3. Much of mental activity and behavior, and its determinants, is unconscious in character. 4. The early experience of the individual, as a child, is very potent, and tends to be pre-potent over later experience. (Farrell, 1981, p. 25)
   8) The Scientific and Rational Are Not Co-extensive
   Our sceptic may be unwise enough . . . to maintain that, because analytic theory is unscientific on his criterion, it is not worth discussing. This step is unwise, because it presupposes that, if a study is not scientific on his criterion, it is not a rational enterprise . . . an elementary and egregious mistake. The scientific and the rational are not co-extensive. Scientific work is only one form that rational inquiry can take: there are many others. (Farrell, 1981, p. 46)
   9) The Validity of Psychoanalytic Therapy
   Psychoanalysts have tended to write as though the term analysis spoke for itself, as if the statement "analysis revealed" or "it was analyzed as" preceding a clinical assertion was sufficient to establish the validity of what was being reported. An outsider might easily get the impression from reading the psychoanalytic literature that some standardized, generally accepted procedure existed for both inference and evidence. Instead, exactly the opposite has been true. Clinical material in the hands of one analyst can lead to totally different "findings" in the hands of another. (Peterfreund, 1986, p. 128)
   10) The Issues of Inference and Evidence in Psychoanalysis
   The analytic process-the means by which we arrive at psychoanalytic understanding-has been largely neglected and is poorly understood, and there has been comparatively little interest in the issues of inference and evidence. Indeed, psychoanalysts as a group have not recognized the importance of being bound by scientific constraints. They do not seem to understand that a possibility is only that-a possibility-and that innumerable ways may exist to explain the same data. Psychoanalysts all too often do not seem to distinguish hypotheses from facts, nor do they seem to understand that hypotheses must be tested in some way, that criteria for evidence must exist, and that any given test for any hypothesis must allow for the full range of substantiation/refutation. (Peterfreund, 1986, p. 129)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.

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