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Werbart, A. (2005). The patient's private construction of meaning and canons of science: Freud's case studies noch einmal. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(5):1441-1461.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(5):1441-1461

The patient's private construction of meaning and canons of science: Freud's case studies noch einmal

Andrzej Werbart

Starting from Freud's classical case studies, the author highlights the tension between the psychoanalytical starting point in the subject's own meaning construction and the claims of the professional expert to objectivity, privileged knowledge and interpretative precedence. Psychoanalytic investigation of subjective phenomena came into existence parallel with Freud's magnificent project to furnish ‘a psychology that shall be a natural science’. The privileged knowledge of the specialist was substituted by the explicit intention to listen to the individual's own stories and private explanatory constructions. In order to investigate the territory of the unconscious, Freud had to develop various strategies for uncovering and correcting errors, and for testing clinically anchored hypotheses. However, Freud regularly failed to follow his own intentions. The thesis the author presents here is that departures from the explicit ambition to follow the subject's own meaning construction, and departures from the scientific attitude, easy to trace in Freud's case studies, accompany each other. These departures have had far-reaching consequences for the present status of the psychoanalytic knowledge.

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