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Hanly, C. Brook, A. (2015). Response to Commentaries. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 23(2):299-301.

(2015). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 23(2):299-301

Response to Commentaries Related Papers

Charles Hanly and Andrew Brook

We are grateful for the stimulating discussion of our article, which has given rise to a counter-criticism and an elaboration.

We think that the evidence favours the basic epistemological assumption that clinical experience is sufficiently reality bound and objective to be able to validate or invalidate psychoanalytic descriptive and explanatory theories. The human nature that we discover in the Dialogues of Plato, the political, ethical, and aesthetic treatises of Aristotle, the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, the comedies of Aristophanes, and the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides is one with which we are familiar in ourselves, despite the some 2,500 years that separate their lives from ours. Even the earlier animistic psyche of the Homeric age is familiar to us, insofar as we are able to regress in memory and imagination, in the service of the cognitive aspirations of the ego, to the animism of our early childhood mental functioning, with its echoes and remnants still ready to be set in motion in adult life. Plato's account of evil intentions in dreams (Republic, 9.574-575) reveals the same impulses of incest and parricide in the drive life of “even the most decent” of his fellow ancient Athenians that Freud found in twentieth-century Viennese and that we find in contemporary Canadians. Therefore, we cannot agree with the postmodern view expressed by Levin that individual psychic life is intrinsically too viscous and too obscured by cultural differences to be reliably observed clinically or understood theoretically by means of tested generalizations.

The program of conceptual research into alternative psychoanalytic theories has an indispensable partner devoted to the clinical observational testing of interpretations and theories. The coherence of a theory is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for its truth. Only its correspondence with reality is sufficient to establish its truth.

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