Psychoanalytic Theory, Therapy, and the Self: A Basic Guide to the Human Personality in Freud, Erikson, Klein, Sullivan, Fairbairn, Hartmann, Jacobson, and Winnicott

Psychoanalytic Theory, Therapy, and the Self: A Basic Guide to the Human Personality in Freud, Erikson, Klein, Sullivan, Fairbairn, Hartmann, Jacobson, and Winnicott

Psychoanalytic Theory, Therapy, and the Self: A Basic Guide to the Human Personality in Freud, Erikson, Klein, Sullivan, Fairbairn, Hartmann, Jacobson, and Winnicott

Psychoanalytic Theory, Therapy, and the Self: A Basic Guide to the Human Personality in Freud, Erikson, Klein, Sullivan, Fairbairn, Hartmann, Jacobson, and Winnicott

Excerpt

The undisputed starting-point of the modern psychodynamic study of the human personality is the work of Sigmund Freud from the late 1880s to 1938. It is fashionable for some intellectuals, still steeped in nineteenth-century positivism and empiricism, to decry Freud as unscientific. In fact there are two aspects of his work, the theory (based on his own nineteenth-century positivist scientific education) and the acute clinical factual observations he made of actual psychopathological phenomena. The theory, like that of all great scientists grows dated, the clinical facts remain to be extended. Dr. R. Harré (Oxford) writes: "Freud was a great scientist because he looked for the causes of such commonplace occurrences as slips of the tongue, as well as for the causes of such unusual happenings as fits of hysteria" (The Philosophies of Science, Oxford, p. 115). Critics of the scientific status of psychoanalysis must take account of the tremendous changes that have come about in the philosophy of science, in the post-Einstein, post-positivist era. Harré sums this up: "Positivism restricts empirical knowledge to the passing show of sense-experience. . . . The realist point of view emphasizes the work of human imagination in leading to conceptions . . .

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