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Calder, K.T. (1970). Panel on 'The Use of the Economic Viewpoint in Clinical Psychoanalysis'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:245-249.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:245-249

Panel on 'The Use of the Economic Viewpoint in Clinical Psychoanalysis'

Reported by:
Kenneth T. Calder

Chaired by:
Seymour L. Lustman

The Chairman, Dr Lustman, suggested in his introduction that there are six areas for discussion of psychic economics: (1) the function and structure of theory in science; (2) the complexity of the phenomena to be explained; (3) quantification; (4) the relation to concepts from other sciences; (5) the philosophy of science, and (6) defining the domain of this theory. He further suggested that items (3) and (6) demand special attention.

Dr Lustman stated that we judge theory in terms of its utility relevant to the phenomena we observe. Viewed historically we can sometimes make a retrospective judgement of right and wrong. This is difficult with current theories. The function of theory at the moment is 'what explains what better'; this means utility and relevance. All theories are abstract constructions and therefore fictions. As in all science we psychoanalysts use models. And they are not right or wrong but more useful for certain things. The important question is what helps us and for what reasons. This prompts us to consider alternative theories and alternative propositions within a theory.

Man's inner life is a complex area for consideration. We need all five of the customary metapsychological frames of reference. We will emphasize only one in this panel, but this is to simplify for discussion purposes with an awareness that it is incomplete.

Our concepts of quantification regarding psychic energy are loose but useful. Kubie is correct in stating that the concept of psychic energy places us in a quantitative idiom at a time when we have no measurement of such quantities.

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