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Tuckett, D. (1995). The Conceptualisation And Communication Of Clinical Facts In Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:653-662.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:653-662

The Conceptualisation And Communication Of Clinical Facts In Psychoanalysis

David Tuckett

Behind the choice of theme for the Journal's 75th anniversary was a desire to address and to improve our basic methodology. By this I mean formal consideration of how we observe and draw inferences, communicate, publish and conduct debate among ourselves—believing, if we are to establish and share any common ground, that the way forward requires us to base ourselves firmly in the experience of the psychoanalytic session. Thus, each of the five topics discussed and the questions they raise relates in some way to a single central methodological concern—can we find a way of sharing what we do so that we advance our psychoanalytical practice and understanding in a rigorous manner? Do we, and can we, really learn from our collective experience so that psychoanalytic knowledge can accumulate on the basis of an informed consensus, or is our discipline rather a matter of rhetoric, intuition, opinion and faith? Assuming that we really want to learn from and talk to each other, how do we do it? What is required to explain to each other what we actually do and to develop clear arguments about what we can conclude about it, to the point where we can resolve debates?


I do not believe we have ever got very far by arguing whether or not psychoanalysis is an art or a science. That debate has been mainly rhetorical and usually aimed either at imposing or at seeking release from various received and limited sets of opinions. In fact, as several contributors to our anniversary issue have made clear, conceptions of scientific methodology and its application to psychoanalysis vary considerably.

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