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Basch, M.F. (1976). Theory Formation in Chapter VII: a Critique. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24:61-100.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24:61-100

Theory Formation in Chapter VII: a Critique

Michael Franz Basch, M.D.

THROUGHOUT HIS WRITINGS, FREUD frequently acknowledged his dissatisfactions with his metapsychological explanations. Since his time there have been many studies attesting to the recognition that this aspect of psychoanalytic theory needs to be systematically reorganized (Gill, 1963); (Home, 1966); (Rapaport, 1960); (Rycroft, 1968), expanded (Hartmann, 1939), (1964), and modified (Schafter, 1968); (Schur, 1966). But, it seems to me, there is a more fundamental issue involved here, namely, that it is incorrect in principle to derive a theory of cognition (perception, learning, memory, conception, etc.) from a clinical method that is avowedly limited to investigating the significance or meaning of conflict in thought or deed.

There is now both a need and a possibility for imbricating psychoanalysis with the advances that have taken place in other fields since 1900. Attempts have been made repeatedly to do this, but, I believe, they have not been as successful as they deserved to be because they aimed to modify rather than to revise those extraclinical explanatory hypotheses which Freud called his metapsychology.


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