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Fromm, E. (1966). Scientific Research in Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 2(2):168-170.

(1966). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 2(2):168-170

Scientific Research in Psychoanalysis

Erich Fromm

An Editorial

A growing criticism of psychoanalysis can be observed in recent years. It comes not so much from the ranks of psychiatrists but rather from those of the experimental psychologists, and is mostly located in the United States, the country where experimental psychology has reached its greatest development—at least as far as extension and academic power is concerned. The line of attack is that psychoanalysis lacks a scientific method, proper scientific control of its data and, at the very best, that it is an art and not a science.

Many psychoanalysts are prone to ignore these criticisms and to ascribe them simply to a lack of knowledge of psychoanalysis or to personally motivated "resistances" against it. This kind of reaction is unfortunate because it tends to inhibit necessary self-criticism.

It is true, I believe, that psychoanalysts have failed to develop a sufficient body of research. Many psychoanalytic papers merely try to prove a point, without asking those self-critical questions which are characteristic of a scientific attitude. One might have thought that the formation of various schools of psychoanalysis would have remedied the situation, but in fact the opposite is true. The adherents of each school, whether Freudian, Jungian, etc., have stuck all the more uncritically to their own doctrines, because each felt they had to defend the teachings of their master against all "enemies."

There are other reasons for the lack of a sufficiently self-critical attitude among psychoanalysts.

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