THE QUESTION OF PROOF IN
FREUD'S PSYCHOANALYTIC WRITINGS
The question of proof in psychoanalysis is as old as psychoanalysis itself. The 1895 "Project" aims at being a project of scientific psychology. The "Interpretation of Dreams" purports to be a science and not a fantastic construction, a "fine fairy tale," to use Krafft-Ebing's remark, hurled at Freud at the close of one public presentation. Each of Freud's didactic works—the Introductory Lectures, the New Introductory Lectures, and the Outline—represent a new effort to communicate to the layman the conviction that psychoanalysis is genuinely related to what is intelligible and what claims to be true. And yet, psychoanalysis has never quite succeeded in stating how its assertions are justified, how its interpretations are authenticated, how its theory is verified. This relative failure of psychoanalysis to be recognized as a science results, I think, from a failure to ask certain preliminary questions to which I devote the first two parts of my paper; the third part is an attempt to reply directly to the original question.
The first question concerns what is relevant as a fact in psychoanalysis. We may begin by noting that traditional discussions about the epistemological status of analytic theory take it for granted that theories consist of propositions whose role is to systemize, explain, and predict phenomena comparable to those which verify or falsify theories in the natural sciences or in human sciences which, like academic psychology, themselves adopt the epistemology of the____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Restoration of Dialogue:Readings in the Philosophy of Clinical Psychology. Contributors: Ronald B. Miller - Editor. Publisher: APA Books. Place of publication: Washington, DC. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 347.
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