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Knight, E.H. (1986). Hypothesis and Evidence in Psychoanalysis: By Marshall Edelson. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1984. Pp. 175.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:510-512.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:510-512

Hypothesis and Evidence in Psychoanalysis: By Marshall Edelson. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1984. Pp. 175.

Review by:
Edward H. Knight

Perhaps traditionally resigned to their probationary status in the family of sciences, most clinical analysts, preoccupied with treatment, give relatively little thought to the matter of their being a scientist. It is common to hear psychoanalysis referred to as both art and science, or some as yet undeciphered mixture of both. Eissler refers to an 'anthrophic' science, indicating a need to develop new criteria for a new kind of science of the study of man. Is this an evasion? Or is it recognition of the actual status of this discipline? Nevertheless, students in the field generally show little awareness of the stern and serious debates amongst various philosophers of science regarding the scientific credibility of psychoanalysis.

This fact is a matter of concern to Edelson who hopes to awaken our profession to its imminent loss of scientific acceptability and woeful lapse into the status of a humanistic or hermeneutic discipline, i.e. the study of subjective meaning rather than objective fact. He would consider it a great loss, even the end of psychoanalysis, if it were taken over by those who see analysis as a social or historical science, rather than a natural science. Some explanation of why this is so, rather than the assumption that it is self-evident, would be helpful to a general reader.

The author makes a strong appeal to the 'next generation of analysts' to undertake the strenuous task of laborious research and to adhere carefully to the scientific principles of veridicality, lest the field be lost to vitalists of one sort or another.

This volume is a serious, rigorously systematic analysis of this problem, with concrete recommendations for future direction and research methods. Edelson feels that he has the answer of how to apply acceptable methods of scientific research to the elusive dyadic phenomena of psychoanalysis. He reviews some of the important challenges to psychoanalysis as a science and proceeds to an elaboration of the canons of 'eliminative inductivism' as a proper avenue to scientific legitimacy.


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