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Civitarese, G. Katz, S.M. Tubert-Oklander, J. (2015). Prologue: Postmodernism and Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(6):559-565.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(6):559-565


Prologue: Postmodernism and Psychoanalysis

Giuseppe Civitarese, M.D., Ph.D., S. Montana Katz, Ph.D., LP and Juan Tubert-Oklander, M.D., Ph.D.

Postmodernism and postmodern concepts in their varied forms have had a dramatic impact on psychoanalytic theory and practice. Although it could be validly argued that much of Postmodernism, like many other contemporary developments in psychoanalysis, was prefigured in the writings of Freud, it could equally validly be noted that the lessons of Postmodernism have not yet been fully digested in psychoanalysis. Indeed, Freud himself was largely unaware of the revolutionary potential of his discovery, which was to subvert the very bases of classical epistemology. Freud opted for what was to be an ultimately unfruitful attempt to turn psychoanalysis into a quasi-positivistic science, which was, for him, the only valid path to knowledge, as he clearly stated in “The Question of a Weltanschauung” (Freud, 1933).

As a result of this, Freud oscillated ambivalently between two polar positions. In one of them, he considered the psychoanalytic treatment as something similar to other medical therapies —i.e., a purposive rational intervention, based on sound scientific knowledge and theories, which aimed to attain a preordained goal, namely, the cure. If this were the case, the present coincidence of therapy and research that characterizes psychoanalysis would no longer be necessary when analysts came to possess “all the knowledge (or at least the essential knowledge) about the psychology of the unconscious and about the structure of the neuroses that we can still obtain from psycho-analytic work,” as Freud wrote in his “Recommendations to Physicians Practicing Psychoanalysis” (Freud, 1912, p.

[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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