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Shapiro, T. (1993). Discussion: The Clinician And The Scientist. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):153-164.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):153-164

Discussion: The Clinician And The Scientist

Theodore Shapiro, M.D.

Freud discovered a method to systematically explore the human mind, its contents, and its mechanism. His discoveries were made in the historical context of a romantic revolution in middle Europe, and his findings of conflicting agencies within were consonant with such a vision of the human condition. However, at fin de siècle there was a new ferment of empirical observation that approached data from the vantage of systematic observation and replicative science, that also sought to reduce observer bias. Behavioral psychology and experimental psychology were only a glimmer away. Many medically trained neurologists and neuroanatomists were pursuing firm empirical descriptions of disease and symptoms based on Virchow's anatomic pathology. Indeed, Freud's early work in Brucke's laboratory was conducted in this spirit. This new breed of physician-investigator sought to discover the laws of regularity that would pinpoint how heterogeneity could be analyzed into uniform concepts that wuld serve as generalizations of what they saw.

Freud was influenced by both the romantic and empirical scientific vision as he invented the few rules of transformation that accounted for the large array of symbolic representations which he saw clinically. He also developed paradigms that could reduce his observations to essentials, and explored the possibilities and limits of a unique new method of observation, psychoanalysis.

The conflictual mental structures that evolved into compromise behaviors were thought to support repetitive neurotic symptoms and were seen as derivatives of more or less universal unconscious fantasies, all of which obeyed postulated rules governing mental processes.

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