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Grossman, W.I. (1995). Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:1004-1015.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:1004-1015


William I. Grossman

In his skillful and entertaining tour de force, Shevrin calls for an integration of approaches to gathering and collating information for the development of psychoanalytic theory. His dialogue morality play deftly outlines four positions on the problem of whether psychoanalysis is a science—basic, applied, or both—or can become a science by means of research techniques. He addresses the question of whether the treatment setting of psychoanalysis is by itself a means of scientific observation, or instead must be supplemented by modifying its methods and/or importing data from other fields. That is, can psychoanalytic theory be proved by a scientific method of observation consisting of the therapeutic setting, experimental methods outside that setting, or some combination of methods? His discussion and critiques of therapeutic psychoanalysis and psychotherapy research as sources of observation for the development and support for psychoanalytic theory serves as a background for presenting his own research.

By presenting these issues in the form of a debate, he demonstrates that much of our discussion on these matters emphasizes critiques, limitations, and differences among approaches. Such critiques can be supplemented by developing ideas on the ways diverse approaches to the acquisition of knowledge can be integrated, and the information gained by each method can be used to construct a multifaceted picture of mental function. I believe his paper, by pointing out what each method discussed can and cannot do, points the way to the utilization of various sources of data in formulating a psychoanalytic theory with some testable inferences.

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