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Barratt, B.B. (1994). The Problem of Truth in Applied Psychoanalysis: By Charles Hanly, with a foreword by Peter Gay. New York: Guilford Press, 1992, xv + 236 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:1300-1304.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:1300-1304

The Problem of Truth in Applied Psychoanalysis: By Charles Hanly, with a foreword by Peter Gay. New York: Guilford Press, 1992, xv + 236 pp., $30.00.

Review by:
Barnaby B. Barratt, Ph.D.

As we are probably all awkwardly aware, the "problem of truth" is the ground and horizon of our discipline. If the discourse of patient and psychoanalyst is something other than a juggling of illusions, it confronts the question of its own (un)truthfulness in every moment of the clinical hour: Is "truth" singular? Are all "truths" compatible? Is "truth" necessarily the obverse of falsity, deceit, or illusion? Is it necessarily attainable in propositional form, or is it something more akin to a way or movement of discourse? What are the implications of "speaking truthfully" if all speech is forever deferred, provisional and contingent, if thought is always a disavowal of its own pulsions, or if consciousness is forever a "return of the repressed"? Whereas in the nineteenth century the question of truth was "merely" philosophical, and reasonable faith could be invested in the idea that "truth" resides in discourse that produces a coherent and correspondent account of something taken to be "other" than the discourse itself, the intellectual transitions of this century have unsettled such a faith, and the advent of psychoanalysis has been strongly implicated in this unsettlement. For example, the psychoanalytic demonstration that consciousness might always be an expression of its own repressed dimension has undermined any simple dichotomization of truth/falsity, and thus profoundly called into question our notion of what "truth" is or ever might be. This subversion has rippled through the intellectual history of this century in a series of encounters between psychoanalysis, philosophy, and other disciplines that have provoked and reprovoked—but of course never resolved or reconciled—our inquiries into the "problem of truth.

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