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Beres, D. (1977). Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society: Volume III: 1910-1911, 367 pp.; Volume IV: 1912-1918, 357 pp. Edited by Herman Nunberg and Ernst Federn. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1974, 1975.. Psychoanal Q., 46:148-157.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:148-157

Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society: Volume III: 1910-1911, 367 pp.; Volume IV: 1912-1918, 357 pp. Edited by Herman Nunberg and Ernst Federn. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1974, 1975.

Review by:
David Beres

The history of psychoanalysis is the history of an idea. We are today close enough to the origins of psychoanalysis to be involved and biased in our judgments, yet far enough away to have some degree of objectivity about some basic questions. How far have we progressed from the early pioneers of psychoanalysis? Which questions have been answered and which remain unresolved? Which hypotheses and theories have been validated and which remain unproven?

Psychoanalysis is basically the study of unconscious mental function. Has the approach to this study changed over the years? Scientists, historians, and sociologists make observations, collect data. Their earliest formulations are speculations which they hope will lead to useful hypotheses and theories that can be validated by further observation and experimentation. This applies as well to psychoanalysts. Speculation is the beginning effort to codify and organize the accumulated data in order to make clinical application and further conceptualization possible.

The pioneers of psychoanalysis, through their speculations, gave vitality to their wealth of observations. But not all discerned the difference between speculation—recognized as such—and premature theorization—defended as such. Freud not only recognized this difference; he also emphasized it. To what extent are psychoanalysts today also prone to premature theorization? Which unanswered questions raised by the early analysts are today still being met, not with an admission of our limitations, but by futile logomachy that fills the pages of psychoanalytic journals? Freud commented on the tendency to be dogmatic without adequate evidence in his discussion of a presentation by Sadger.

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