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Rosenblatt, A.D. Thickstun, J.T. (1977). Energy, Information, and Motivation: A Revision of Psychoanalytic Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 25:537-558.

(1977). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 25:537-558

Energy, Information, and Motivation: A Revision of Psychoanalytic Theory

Allan D. Rosenblatt, M.D. and James T. Thickstun, M.D.

IT IS, BY NOW, A TRUISM IN THE HISTORY of science that a demonstrably defective scientific paradigm is only abandoned when a competing or substitute paradigm is accepted by the scientific community. In a 1970 paper we were only able to sketch an alternative theoretical framework, involving information processing theory, concept and symbol formation, and current neurophysiological data. However, in the intervening years, our ideas and those of others have become more crystallized. Therefore, today, rather than merely repeat the same criticisms of the concept of psychic energy, we shall summarize these criticisms and then go on to focus upon a more coherent alternative conceptual framework.

The theory of psychic energy fails to meet the minimal criteria of acceptable scientific methodology in six major areas: (1) There is internal contradiction and lack of consistency; (2) it is a logically closed system, misusing metaphor as fact; (3) it uses tautological renaming to masquerade as explanation; (4) it cannot explain all relevant data; (5) it leads to a false sense of explanation; and (6) it promotes a mind-body dualism, preventing articulation with related sciences and scientific data.

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