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Solms, M. (1995). Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:1028-1035.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:1028-1035


Mark Solms

Among the four viewpoints Howard Shevrin presents in order to dramatize contemporary debates on the scientific standing of psychoanalysis, he situates his own research within the tradition championed by the fictional Dr. Link. I shall therefore focus my commentary on this aspect of his wide-ranging presentation.

Shevrin's conception of psychoanalysis rests on a basic postulate regarding its scientific foundations, namely, that “psychoanalysts practice a method based on certain presuppositions for which the … method itself cannot provide proof.” The presuppositions he refers to are (1) that conscious phenomena have unconscious psychological causes, and (2) that unconscious causes are represented indirectly in consciousness, due to the effects of various transformations. Shevrin points out that “these presuppositions may turn out to be true or false, with fateful consequences for the science.” This conception of the scientific foundations of psychoanalysis is attributed to both Dr. Sample and Dr. Link, but only the latter bases his entire argument on it. Whereas Dr. Sample calls for a “more rigorous” clinical research methodology, Dr. Link asserts that only “a science basic to psychoanalysis” can provide independent evidence for its presuppositions, for “if the research intends to address these two basic presuppositions, it must demonstrate how it can do so independently of the clinical method based on those presuppositions.

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