The debate regarding the scientific status of psychoanalysis is considered by many psychiatrists to be a sterile one; this leads to a polarisation of views in which those in favour of psychoanalysis, feeling themselves to be losing, retreat to the position of stating that meaning is more important than scientific status, while those against argue that because psychoanalysis is unscientific it is meaningless and thus should not remain part of our psychiatric practice; the debate being reformulated as psychoanalysis: sense or nonsense? The consequence of giving up this debate is that it allows us also to give up the struggle to define science adequately to ourselves, and to question the relationship between psychiatry and science. Our understanding of science reflects directly on the quality of our research; this is particularly relevant to research in the practical application of psychoanalysis. Before we consider our understanding of science, however, we should consider our epistemological theories, or how we know things.
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