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Slochower, H. (1964). Applied Psychoanalysis: As a Science and as an Art. Am. Imago, 21(1-2):165-174.

(1964). American Imago, 21(1-2):165-174

Applied Psychoanalysis: As a Science and as an Art

Harry Slochower, Ph.D.

Prior to the advent of psychoanalysis, psychology was generally regarded as a science. But it held this position because it treated the mind as a physiological organ (the brain) which could be directly observed and measured. When psychoanalysis introduced the notion of psychic reality— especially the unconscious—which was not reducible to anatomical, physical and chemical elements, its scientific nature began to be questioned.

Modern criticism of psychoanalysis is focused on its methodology. This is the emphasis in a recent Symposium On Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method and Philosophy. Thus, Ernest Nagel finds psychoanalysis wanting if judged by the criteria of a pure science, chiefly on the ground that he suspects it can be so manipulated as to escape refutation no matter what facts are adduced.

To begin with, it should be noted that Freud was clearly aware of and accepted this criterion. Writing about religious doctrines, he stated: “Of the reality value of most of them, we cannot judge; just as they cannot be proved, neither can they be refuted.” The points raised in the Symposium are met in Robert Waelder's review in which he calls attention that the same objection could be made against scientific theories, such as the theory of immunity.

1 Edited by Sidney Hook. New York University Press, Washington Square 1959. Hereafter, cited as Symposium.

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