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The Information icon (an i in a circle) will give you valuable information about PEP Web data and features. You can find it besides a PEP Web feature and the author’s name in every journal article. Simply move the mouse pointer over the icon and click on it for the information to appear.

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Kirshner, L.A. (1994). Between Hermeneutics and Science. An Essay on the Epistemology of Psychoanalysis: By Carlo Strenger, Ph.D. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1991. 234 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:574-578.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:574-578

Between Hermeneutics and Science. An Essay on the Epistemology of Psychoanalysis: By Carlo Strenger, Ph.D. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1991. 234 pp.

Review by:
Lewis A. Kirshner

This slim volume traverses the boundaries of psychology, philosophy, empirical research, and psychoanalysis to propose a conceptual foundation for psychoanalytic theory and practice which can hold up to postmodern critiques of conceptual systems and the positivist demand for empirical facts. On the one hand a response to Adolf Grünbaum's penetrating dissection of psychoanalytic epistemology, Strenger's monograph wrestles with his own uncertain position as an intellectual seeker of truth and practitioner of therapy. He accepts certain painful conclusions which many analysts might still resist—for example, that psychoanalysis represents a hermeneutic discipline, not a science—while struggling valiantly to uphold the validity of clinical experience. Since Strenger is unusually knowledgeable and able to convey his ideas in a straightforward, comprehensible manner, his efforts have resulted in a valuable contribution to our literature, one which will have a useful place in our analytic curriculum.

Strenger, like many other critics (e.g., Meissner), begins by sidestepping the thrust of Grünbaum's attack, in refusing to accept the portrayal of psychoanalysis which was proffered in The Foundations of Psychoanalysis. One can have very little quarrel with his description of contemporary psychoanalytic practice as much broader than the narrow search for specific etiologies as a "necessary condition" for cure. He takes his place with those modernist psychoanalysts who seek to disencumber clinical practice from an outdated theoretical superstructure with which it is often confused.

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