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Zachrisson, A. Zachrisson, H.D. (2005). Validation of psychoanalytic theories: Towards a conceptualization of references. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(5):1353-1371.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(5):1353-1371

Validation of psychoanalytic theories: Towards a conceptualization of references

Anders Zachrisson and Henrik Daae Zachrisson

The authors discuss criteria for the validation of psychoanalytic theories and develop a heuristic and normative model of the references needed for this. Their core question in this paper is: can psychoanalytic theories be validated exclusively from within psychoanalytic theory (internal validation), or are references to sources of knowledge other than psychoanalysis also necessary (external validation)? They discuss aspects of the classic truth criteria correspondence and coherence, both from the point of view of contemporary psychoanalysis and of contemporary philosophy of science. The authors present arguments for both external and internal validation. Internal validation has to deal with the problems of subjectivity of observations and circularity of reasoning, external validation with the problem of relevance. They recommend a critical attitude towards psychoanalytic theories, which, by carefully scrutinizing weak points and invalidating observations in the theories, reduces the risk of wishful thinking. The authors conclude by sketching a heuristic model of validation. This model combines correspondence and coherence with internal and external validation into a four-leaf model for references for the process of validating psychoanalytic theories.

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