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Collins, S. (2011). On Authenticity: The Question of Truth in Construction and Autobiography. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 92(6):1391-1409.

(2011). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 92(6):1391-1409

On Authenticity: The Question of Truth in Construction and Autobiography

Sara Collins

(Final version accepted 11 January 2011)

Freud was occupied with the question of truth and its verification throughout his work. He looked to archaeology for an evidence model to support his ideas on reconstruction. He also referred to literature regarding truth in reconstruction, where he saw shifts between historical fact and invention, and detected such swings in his own case histories. In his late work Freud pondered over the impossibility of truth in reconstruction by juxtaposing truth with ‘probability’. Developments on the role of fantasy and myth in reconstruction and contemporary debates over objectivity have increasingly highlighted the question of ‘truth’ in psychoanalysis. I will argue that ‘authenticity’ is a helpful concept in furthering the discussion over truth in reconstruction. Authenticity denotes that which is genuine, trustworthy and emotionally accurate in a reconstruction, as observed within the immediacy of the analyst/ patient interaction. As authenticity signifies genuineness in a contemporary context its origins are verifiable through the analyst's own observations of the analytic process itself. Therefore, authenticity is about the likelihood and approximation of historical truth rather than its certainty. In that respect it links with Freud's musings over ‘probability’. Developments on writing ‘truths’ in autobiography mirror those in reconstruction, and lend corroborative support from another source.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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