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Shapiro, T. Emde, R.N. (1993). Introduction: Some Empirical Approaches To Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):1-3.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):1-3

Introduction: Some Empirical Approaches To Psychoanalysis

Theodore Shapiro, M.D. and Robert N. Emde, M.D.

AS WE APPROACH THE ONE HUNDREDTH YEAR after the birth of psychoanalysis, we take stock of our status as science. Freud was firmly convinced, in a growing positivist world, that he would be remembered as the discoverer of the secret of dreams, and that his unique method of inquiry was the best method to explore human inner life. In these searches, he was a psychic determinist in a world of deterministic physics and growing knowledge about the evolution of natural history. Indeed, Freud sought a parallel place for the science of psychoanalysis.

As we entered the twentieth century, the empirical basis of science became central. Philosophers of science began to explore the limits of our certainties, and statistical duplicative experimental approaches gave rise to a growing faith in probabilistic statements. Science became that body of truths to be held tentatively until newer hypotheses could be tested by accumulated empirical observations designed to select among alternative theories. What was happening within psychoanalysis during this same period?

Psychoanalysis grew as a clinical discipline and as such was for a long time cultivating the technical possibilities that arose in order to help patients change. Nonetheless, Freud's earliest observation during the late nineteenth century, suggested that we change neurotic misery into plain human unhappiness, and at the end of his life, he epigrammatically offered, "Where id was, there ego shall be." These pronouncements and the image of the analytic case as a unique scientific exploration became sufficient reasons for continuing our clinical practices.

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