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Curtis, R. (1996). The “Death of Freud” and the Rebirth of Free Psychoanalytic Inquiry. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(4):563-589.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(4):563-589

The “Death of Freud” and the Rebirth of Free Psychoanalytic Inquiry Related Papers

Rebecca Curtis, Ph.D.

The relevance of Grünbaum's recent critique of psychoanalytic theory is explored as it relates to relational/interpersonal theories. Grünbaum finds no scientific evidence for repression, the cornerstone of psychoanalysis. I argue that studies demonstrating the effects of motivated, unconscious processes are beginning to emerge in psychological research. This research, as well as interpersonal theory, refers to these processes as dissociated, not “repressed.” I agree with Grünbaum that scientific validation of psychoanalytic theories of the mind, personality, and change cannot be gleaned from case studies alone. In relational theories the analytic situation is admittedly “contaminated” with the analyst's participation by its very nature. There is beginning to be support for some relational hypotheses, but measures to validate these hypotheses are only now being developed. Grünbaum's criticisms have come at a time when the convergence between relational theories and theories in social/clinical psychology makes it more likely that relational hypotheses will be articulated in a more precise manner by researchers, if not by analysts.

The issues of the difficulty of measuring unconscious processes and the quest for knowledge seemingly beyond human limitations are addressed. Psychoanalysis is not only less than scientific, but more encompassing, in that it is also a creative activity that cannot be understood through science alone.

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