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Bucci, W. (1989). A Reconstruction of Freud's Tally Argument: A Program for Psychoanalytic Research. Psychoanal. Inq., 9(2):249-281.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 9(2):249-281

A Reconstruction of Freud's Tally Argument: A Program for Psychoanalytic Research

Wilma Bucci, Ph.D.

In developing his scientific method, Freud attempted to reconcile oppositions—possibly without recognizing them as such; some of the problems in psychoanalytic theory and technique arise from this. The first opposition concerns the subject matter of the theory. Psychoanalytic propositions refer to private and subjective mental representations—expectations, feelings, beliefs—known directly only to their experiencers; known only partially even to them. However, the domain of science calls for mutually observable events. Freud was attempting to build a science out of subjective representations without confronting the epistemological difficulties inherent in that attempt.

The second opposition lies in Freud's intent of combining the roles of scientist and clinician, with all the different functions that each role entails. In any treatment situation the practitioner's primary responsibility is to help the patient. The scientist's commitment is to investigate the research questions wherever they may lead; this can diverge from, even interfere with the responsibility to treat. In the analytic situation, in which transference (and countertransference) play a central role, the difficulties inherent in the scientist-practitioner duality are even more acute.


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