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Wertsch, J.V. (1990). A Meeting of Paradigms—Vygotsky and Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:53-73.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:53-73

A Meeting of Paradigms—Vygotsky and Psychoanalysis

James V. Wertsch, Ph.D.

THE ARTICLES PREPARED BY E. Weinstein, Turner, Tenzer, Wilson and L. Weinstein, for this issue of Contemporary Psychoanalysis are extremely interesting for a variety of reasons. Among these is the fact that the articles provide a case study in how two traditions of thought, or two paradigms (Kuhn, 1970) can come into contact and shed light on one another. The intent of the authors is to explicate the ideas of L. S. Vygotsky as presented through his own writings and in secondary sources. In many cases the authors have pursued their goal by identifying parallels that exist between Vygotsky's ideas and the ideas of various figures in psychoanalytic theory. My perspective will be somewhat complementary. Instead of expanding on their discussions (something I am not competent to do in any event, given my limited knowledge of psychoanalytic theory and practice), I shall focus on some of the limits one confronts in identifying parallels.

I do this not in an attempt to criticize the authors' comments. Indeed, I find a great many novel and important insights in these comments. Instead, I do it with the intention of unmasking some of the assumptions that are made by various schools of thought, assumptions that often do not come to light except when representatives of one school of thought seek to identify similarities and dissimilarities that exist between their own and other traditions. In the process of reading the papers of these authors, I was struck by some of the assumptions in Vygotsky's writings that I had not previously recognized, and I hope that I have some contribution to


The writing of this article was assisted by the Spencer Foundation. the statements made and the views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 26, No. 1 (1990)

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