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Wurmser, L. (1977). A Defense of the Use of Metaphor in Analytic Theory Formation. Psychoanal Q., 46:466-498.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:466-498

A Defense of the Use of Metaphor in Analytic Theory Formation

Leon Wurmser, M.D.


This study of psychoanalytic theory formation is based on the epistemology of Cassirer and Langer. It postulates the need of all sciences to operate with symbols of various levels of abstractions, including, in a very prominent way, metaphors. There is not just one scientific method. The current wave of criticism against psychoanalytic theory from within and without, and especially of its use of metaphor in theory formation, is based on a philosophy of radical empiricism which cannot do justice to the science of psychoanalysis.

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