Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To save articles in ePub format for your eBook reader…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To save an article in ePub format, look for the ePub reader icon above all articles for logged in users, and click it to quickly save the article, which is automatically downloaded to your computer or device. (There may be times when due to font sizes and other original formatting, the page may overflow onto a second page.).

You can also easily save to PDF format, a journal like printed format.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Walkup, J. Bellak, L. (1999). Positivism and Psychoanalysis: A New Look at the Historical Record. Psychoanal. Rev., 86(2):163-174.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Review, 86(2):163-174

Positivism and Psychoanalysis: A New Look at the Historical Record

James Walkup, Ph.D. and Leopold Bellak, M.D.

In recent years, psychoanalytic theory has been said to suffer because Freud's theories, and those of his immediate successors, contain residual elements of positivism, the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scientifically oriented philosophical position known for its combination of hostility to metaphysics and distrust of abstractions not easily translated into observable data. This criticism asserts that Freud and the early psychoanalytic theorists, being creatures of their time, burdened their radical psychoanalytic discoveries with a needless positivism in the service of what we now understand to be a naive image of science. Subsequently, more sophisticated work on the history, sociology, and philosophy of science has discredited positivism and its overly strict rules for science. Consequently, the argument concludes, psychoanalysis needs to free itself of positivism, so that it may further develop the sounder, nonpositivist insights it contains.

In one way or another, antipositivist sentiments figure in many of the most significant contemporary criticisms of psychoanalytic theory, especially when terms such as postmodernism, constructivism, and hermeneutics are frequently cited. In many circles, the harmful effect of positivism on psychoanalysis is so taken for granted that the judgment that one or another psychoanalytic concept shows a positivist influence is considered enough reason to reject or revise it. Furthermore, because people tend not to debate propositions that they take for granted, this negative image of positivism exerts a largely unexamined influence on discourse about psychoanalytic theory.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.