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Toulmin, S. (1978). Psychoanalysis, Physics, and the Mind-Body Problem. Ann. Psychoanal., 6:315-336.

(1978). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 6:315-336

Psychoanalysis, Physics, and the Mind-Body Problem

Stephen Toulmin, Ph.D.


By now, psychoanalysis has been developing for more than three-quarters of a century, during which time its clinical procedures have become well established. As in any systematic branch of medicine, it has made progress on two fronts: extending the scope of its methods to embrace clinical problems for which its founders had no adequate treatment—notably, into the area of “narcissistic” disorders—and making those methods more sensitive and discriminating, particularly through greater reliance on “empathy.” Although controversies continue—notoriously—over the metapsychological “underpinnings” of clinical psychoanalysis (or, perhaps, the word should be “superstructure”), we should not let those disagreements blind us to the record of slow but steady clinical advance. From Freud's own first, classic work on the treatment of hysteria, right on through to, e.g., Kohut's methods for dealing with diffuse anxiety, narcissistic rage, and other “borderlinesymptoms, the story is one of genuine consolidation and growth.

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