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Van Der Leeuw, P.J. (1969). On Freud's Theory Formation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:573-581.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:573-581

On Freud's Theory Formation

P. J. Van Der Leeuw

These days an increasing number of studies in psychoanalytical literature deal with the fundamental principles of psychoanalytic theory. Attention is increasingly being paid to the problems connected with the conception and development of the basic principles, their sequence and their correlation, and with the structure of theory as a whole, as well as with the relationship between the topographical model and the so-called structural model. The scientific value of psychoanalysis, i.e. its theory, has from the very beginning been a regularly recurring subject of investigation. There is extensive and controversial literature on this subject, but it is a striking fact that hardly any attention is paid to the history of the development of scientific concepts, that is, the psychoanalytic concepts. Historical research is usually limited to biographical data, the question of originality and priority. Very few studies go into the matter of Freud's own theory formation and the comparison thereof with the development of the concepts in those disciplines from which his concepts are derived and upon which his scientific principles are based. In view of the enormous extent of Freud's reading, this is quite surprising.

We know how well-read Freud was, from the authors he quoted and the quotations he used. He even knew the still unknown researchers and thinkers of his day, such as Hughlings Jackson. We are qualified to make a comparative study only when we have complete understanding of Freud's own train of thought, his theories and his attitude as a researcher in natural science.

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