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Galatzer-levy, R.M. (1993). Discussion: The Rewards Of Research. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):393-409.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):393-409

Discussion: The Rewards Of Research

Robert M. Galatzer-levy, M.D.

I FIRST READ ABOUT AND BECAME fascinated with psychoanalysis in high school. It was presented like other disciplines I studied then-definitively. Planets orbited under gravity's force; the square on the hypotenuse of a right triangle equaled the sum of the squares on the other sides; sentences had subjects and predicates; symptoms expressed repressed unconscious forces; the working class would rise up.

I knew unfortunate people, mostly denizens of the land beyond the Hudson, did not appreciate these facts. But this was their problem. It had nothing to do with the truth of "facts" I was learning. Gradually, through college, graduate and professional school I learned that evidence could support, call into question, or refute important propositions. This normative process is especially clear in the sciences. I learned Pythagoras's theorem required Euclid's postulates, and the forces of physics changed with research. I discovered that otherwise reasonable people held different political positions. Perhaps the people beyond the Hudson were not such fools.

From the intellectual trends of the time and personal development, I learned that truth claims are contingent on method, that statements could only be evaluated within particular methodological contexts, and that different methods lead to different kinds of knowledge about the same subject. In most areas more sophisticated study brought increasingly clear statements of the bases of truth claims, including descriptions of the logic and data used in making those claims.

This association between more sophisticated content and concepts of method applied least to psychoanalysis.

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