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Rendon, M. (2010). Response to Jack Danielian. Am. J. Psychoanal., 70(1):25-27.

(2010). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 70(1):25-27

Response to Jack Danielian Related Papers

Mario Rendon

Do we Need Metapsychology?

I first of all want to congratulate Dr. Danielian for a complex and thought-provoking article that reflects his commendable effort to build on the foundation of Karen Horney's legacy. Dr. Danielian draws from a rich fund of psychoanalytic literature as well as from his clinical and supervisory practice. He is also not shy about exploring other scientific and philosophical domains seeking verification of uncertain concepts. I will not focus on the many areas of agreement I have with Dr. Danielian but only on the central issue of metapsychology.

Metapsychology means beyond psychology. Originally a Meta was an object, a tower erected in Greek and Roman times to orient charioteers; it showed them their destination at a distance when there were no roads or traffic lights. In Romance languages Meta still means goal or aim, what is beyond the here and now.

Psychology is the science of the mind, which before the scientific revolution was considered ineffable. Freud coined the term metapsychology modeled on the old metaphysics of philosophy to translate dramatic behavior into psycho-dynamics. In his quest for understanding he wanted to go beyond psychology to find ultimate causes. He went in two opposite and contradictory directions. On the one hand, he found in thermodynamics and biology some tools to frame his theory in the material world; on the other, he moved into the intangible world of metaphysics.

It is important to understand that the field of thermodynamics was the cutting edge in science at the time of Freud, and it was particularly compelling because the issue of energy conservation and heat loss was central to the society of the industrial revolution; it provided a new epistemology so to say.

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