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Bernardi, R.E. (1989). The Role of Paradigmatic Determinants in Psychoanalytic Understanding. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:341-357.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:341-357

The Role of Paradigmatic Determinants in Psychoanalytic Understanding

Ricardo E. Bernardi


This paper describes the nature of the differences between psychoanalytic theories. It is based on a comparison of the analysis of the Wolf Man by Freud, and Klein's, Lacan's and Leclaire's readings of it. It shows that:

a. Material is not perceived in an identical fashion. Each of the authors bases their interpretation on different aspects of the material, which leads to the epistemological problem named 'empirical incommensurability' by Stegmüller.

b. The ways in which the interpretation is thought about are also different: the type of questions they ask themselves, the implied methodological requirements and their model or ideal of understanding are different.

c. The metapsychological points of view postulated, the way the scientific status of psychoanalysis is defined, and the ontological commitment in each point of view are also specific and different.

The author concludes that because they are different paradigms (in Kuhn's sense), not only are notional and cognitive elements brought into play, but also presuppositions, attitudes, values and fantasies.

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