Login
Galatzer-Levy, R.M. (1976). Psychic Energy: A Historical Perspective. Ann. Psychoanal., 4:41-61.

Welcome to PEP Web!

Viewing the full text of this document requires a subscription to PEP Web.

If you are coming in from a university from a registered IP address or secure referral page you should not need to log in. Contact your university librarian in the event of problems.

If you have a personal subscription on your own account or through a Society or Institute please put your username and password in the box below. Any difficulties should be reported to your group administrator.

Username:
Password:

Can't remember your username and/or password? If you have forgotten your username and/or password please click here and log in to the PaDS database. Once there you need to fill in your email address (this must be the email address that PEP has on record for you) and click "Send." Your username and password will be sent to this email address within a few minutes. If this does not work for you please contact your group organizer.

Athens or federation user? Login here.

Not already a subscriber? Order a subscription today.

(1976). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 4:41-61

Psychic Energy: A Historical Perspective

Robert M. Galatzer-Levy, M.D. Author Information

Much criticism of the concept of psychic energy is based on its apparent failure to live up to the paradigm on which it is modeled, the concept of energy conservation in physics. In this paper I attempt to clarify the relationship of these two concepts in four ways. First, through historical investigation of the idea of energy in physics, the nature of the paradigm is clarified and the type of thinking involved in its formulation is described. Second, the viewpoints of vitalism and natürphilosophie are reviewed in relation to these ideas. Third, Freud's historical relationship to the paradigm is discussed. Finally, criticisms of the concept of psychic energy are reviewed in the light of these discussions. In this way it is demonstrated that many claims that the concept of psychic energy is “unscientific” are based on a narrow conception of “science”: a conception excluding from science not only psychic energy but also the early developments of energy conservation.

The approach to the problem of scientific “truth” employed in this paper differs from the popular, largely positivistic, methods used in many previous discussions, some of which will be mentioned below. Those methodologies assume certain criteria that must be met before theories and concepts may be granted the title “scientific.” For example, they require that a theory result in certain “testable” predictions. Positivistic epistemology owes much of its success to its appropriateness for dealing with perplexing issues that arose in physics at the beginning of this century and has become a sort of official philosophy of modern science. It is often suggested that the status of psychoanalysis as a science depends on its ability to meet positivistic criteria (Kardiner et al., 1955). However,

- 41 -

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2014, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing. Help | About | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Problem

WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.