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Holzman, P.S. Aronson, G. (1992). Psychoanalysis and its Neighboring Sciences: Paradigms and Opportunities. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:63-88.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:63-88

Psychoanalysis and its Neighboring Sciences: Paradigms and Opportunities

Philip S. Holzman, Ph.D. and Gerald Aronson, M.D.


Breuer and Freud's prepsychoanalytic cathartic treatment proved to be generally ineffective. Consequently, both the treatment and the theory adduced to support it were revised to accommodate the issue of wishes and their expression. But the new treatment, too, had only limited success, which resulted in a further revision of the supporting theory to emphasize the "resistances," or the control and modulation of drives. There is an irony in these progressive shifts: as the therapy's limitations became more apparent, the theory became more expansive, and extended itself beyond its beginnings in neurotic symptoms, and into slips, dreams, character formation, and sociology. In short, it encompassed more of normal behavior as its expectations for the therapy of pathological behavior were increasingly called into question. The paper explores some implications of this historical turn for a scientific data base with opportunities to test and revise the various psychoanalytic hypotheses. One view would have it that psychoanalysis has been lamed by the physicalistic language of its metapsychology, by its isolation from the neurosciences and the cognitive sciences, and by a compartmentalization of practice and knowledge that has kept its practitioners focused on the worried well and unimpressed by the knowledge at its borders. Another view would propose that the restiveness of some current and past theorists to claim the mantle of "science" continues to lead to premature and awkward attempts to couple psychoanalysis with putative neighbors rather than stick to its last of shaping its own findings into a language reflecting a coherent theory capable of validation.

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