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Massicotte, W.J. (1999). Psychoanalysis, Science, and Postmodernism. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(2):544-547.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(2):544-547

Psychoanalysis, Science, and Postmodernism

William J. Massicotte

November 14, 1998. While I am mindful that Phyllis Tyson does not clearly endorse postmodernism, her editorial in JAPA 46/1 highlights its influence and acceptance within psychoanalysis. I believe this is an unfortunate trend that we should try to reverse. When I began my analytic training, I was frankly astonished to find such misplaced attempts to absorb dubious aspects of contemporary thought that have gained some prominence.

Postmodernism is a very unfortunate twentieth century philosophical disease in that it decreases a sense of diversity because of its intolerance of ideas at odds with itself; It strives to replace scientific demonstration with rhetoric; it hampers our ability to specify the essential characteristics of personalities; and it seeks to elevate a political point of view over dispassionate scientific work. As a member of the American Philosophical Association, I wish to extend my sincere wishes for a speedy recovery to those of your members who are needlessly suffering.

A misleading feature of the postmodern literature is that its uncritical enthusiasts have mainly contributed to it and there are few criticisms in print. There are reasons for this: When philosophers first noticed their colleagues developing postmodernism, they sincerely believed that it was so indefensible that no one was likely to take it seriously. A few years back, doctoral candidates and junior faculty in philosophy were being advised not to publish refutations of postmodernism, since (1) such activity was unbecoming for serious scholars, (2) time spent refuting patent nonsense should be limited because there was so much of it out there, and (3) it was likely to hurt careers.

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