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Basch, M.F. (1976). Psychoanalysis and Communication Science. Ann. Psychoanal., 4:385-421.

(1976). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 4:385-421

VI Interdisciplinary Research

Psychoanalysis and Communication Science

Michael Franz Basch, M.D.

Freud, having discovered the roots of human behavior in unconscious thought, felt impelled to explain the mechanics of those unconscious processes whose effects he studied analytically. He tried to do this by describing his psychologic findings in the language of physics and attributing their origin and scene of action to an imaginary “mental apparatus.” The dissatisfaction with one or another of this set of hypotheses, called the “metapsychology” of psychoanalysis, began with Freud himself and has continued to this day. In other papers I have sought to demonstrate that this theory was not derived from psychoanalytic practice but was an attempt to explain those findings through what was originally a theory of brain functioning devised by Freud in his prepsychoanalytic days (Basch, 1975a, 1976). In this essay I hope to show that (1) the mental apparatus, a reification of the concept of mind, is an unnecessary construct once the supposed mind/brain dichotomy is seen for what it is, namely, a semantic confusion or paradox; and that (2) the language of communication theory permits us to express psychoanalytic findings without the distortion imposed on them by the language of Newtonian physics.

The difficulties confronting psychoanalytic metapsychology are not peculiar to the field of psychoanalysis. Indeed, they do not stem from psychoanalysis per se; rather, the dissatisfaction with metapsychology that caused Freud to keep struggling with theoretical confusions, contradictions, and inadequacies vis-á-vis his clinical findings are rooted in the problems of the scientific outlook of the nineteenth century.

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