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Rose, J. (2016). Insight: Essays on Psychoanalytic Knowing by J. Ahumada The New Library of Psychoanalysis, Routledge, Hove, 2011; £23.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1210-1212.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1210-1212

Insight: Essays on Psychoanalytic Knowing by J. Ahumada The New Library of Psychoanalysis, Routledge, Hove, 2011; £23.99

Review by:
James Rose

This book offers a timely response to the many challenges made in recent years to the scientific validity of psychoanalysis. Beyond that, there has been the implication as to whether it is unethical to offer an unverified mode of treatment and promise of help to vulnerable people in severe psychic pain. In his introduction, Ahumada states that: “This book has two intertwined purposes: first, to inquire on how insight is gained in clinical psychoanalysis and, second, to clarify the epistemological place of psychoanalysis and its concepts, for which the main hurdle is the conflation of knowledge and certainty in philosophical notions of science.” One might ask at the outset for whom this book is written. It stands with one foot very firmly in philosophy and epistemological analysis. The other is in clinical psychoanalysis. As such, it will therefore appeal to those familiar with the development of epistemological concepts and thus the reasons for the criticism of psychoanalysis as being incapable of being regarded as a science. Jorge Ahumada is a psychoanalyst who is very knowledgeable about these matters. He provides a scholarly description of these ideas from the outset of the development of science. Following the OED, science can be defined as: “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”. This definition, of course, raises the question of whether and how can we be objective about subjectivity?

The book begins its journey towards a psychoanalytic view of insight acceptable to critics beyond the discipline beginning with thinking about the split between what he calls the empiricist and hermeneutic view.

[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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