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Grossman, W.I. (1967). Reflections on the Relationships of Introspection and Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 48:16-31.

(1967). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 48:16-31

Reflections on the Relationships of Introspection and Psycho-Analysis

William I. Grossman


Psycho-analysis was developing as a method of treatment and investigation utilizing introspection at the same time as many academic psychologists in the United States were becoming disillusioned with introspection as a method of observation in research. While analysts hoped to build a general psychology on findings derived from the special kind of introspection involved in "free association", behaviourists felt that only by replacing the study of experiential events with the study of overt behaviour could they hope to establish a scientific psychology. The recent developments in both academic psychology and ego psychology have tended to promote a convergence of interests, if not of concepts. This is particularly evident in the areas of verbal behaviour and the influences of awareness on conditioning. Psycho-analysts, on the other hand, have always been concerned, as well, with overt behaviour. They have also viewed verbal activity as a category of behaviour among others, and not simply as a report based on "privileged access" to inner experience.

While the central position of introspection in psycho-analysis would seem at first to require little emphasis, a number of considerations make a detailed re-examination of its role desirable. In the first place, continuing efforts to clarify psycho-analytic theory require an examination of the fundamental concepts and their relationship to methods of observation. Secondly, observation and concepts from other disciplines are increasingly employed either as models for reformulation of theory, or as one aspect of the widening exploration of ego functions by analysts.

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