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Gehrie, M.J. (1992). Freud's Vision: Key Issues in the Methodology of Applied Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:239-244.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:239-244

Freud's Vision: Key Issues in the Methodology of Applied Psychoanalysis

Mark J. Gehrie, Ph.D.

THIS PANEL WAS ORGANIZED TO ADDRESS a major issue in the application of psychoanalytic theories to materials gathered outside of the consulting room. The major focus was on how this activity should be done: on the development of a sounder methodological base for applied psychoanalysis, with an eye to expanding our field into diverse areas, while avoiding the pitfalls that have plagued such efforts in the past. Each panelist has worked in psychoanalysis as well as in another field, and agreed to address the question of methodology through presenting an instance of his own work.

Gehrie opened the panel by presenting an overview of the difficulties in the history of applied psychoanalysis. Through an examination of Freud's technique in his analysis of Wilhelm Jensen's Gradiva, it was possible to illustrate that Freud's approach from that time became set as a kind of "template" for method in applied analysis, despite its considerable shortcomings when compared to Freud's clinical method. For example, despite Freud's reminders throughout the work that the characters are the creation of an author, he proceeds with his "analysis" of Gradiva as if it were psychoanalytic data, i.e., treating the story narrative like associations from a patient on the couch. Although Freud's approach may have been an attempt to highlight his exciting recent discoveries of the mechanism of repression, the existence of unconscious mental processes, or the structure and role of dreams and delusions, it nevertheless had the effect of setting a standard for how applied analysis could be done. In effect, it served as permission to apply analytic theories to all sorts of data from disparate sources without many of the careful controls that are ordinarily exercised by analysts in the clinical situation.

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