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Mosher, P.W. (1998). Paul Mosher Replies. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(4):1328-1329.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(4):1328-1329

Paul Mosher Replies

Paul W. Mosher

September 9, 1998. Mark Leffert has raised two issues that are both interesting and significant, and I thank him for doing so.

The first is whether it was reasonable for me to use the word evolution to describe changes in psychoanalytic thought, as reflected in the journal literature, over the seven decades in question. If such an evolutionary process actually does exist, then a subsequent question would be whether the simple technique described in my brief note, based on the computation of the relative frequency of particular words in the literature over these decades, illustrates such a process.

I'm not the first person to suggest that the journal literature in psychoanalysis has followed an evolutionary course. Several authors, including a former editor of this journal, have described psychoanalytic thought as “evolving,” with the implication that our ideas have developed in an orderly way (Abend and Porder 1986; Blum 1987, 1989; Pines 1985). In fact, Blum (1973) once wrote that “the Journal represents and perpetuates our analytic activities and aspirations; it records and influences the evolution of psychoanalytic thought.” The term evolution is used quite a few times in the journal literature itself to describe change over time in psychoanalytic “thought,” “thinking,” “ideas,” and “theory,” as a simple search of the CD-ROM will reveal. Leffert himself concedes the validity of this concept (if not my invocation of it in the present instance) in the very passage in which he disagrees with me.

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