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Psychoanalysis: Science or Nonscience?

  • Carola B. B. Mathers (a1)
Extract

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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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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1. Popper, K. R. (1957) Philosophy of science: a personal report British Philosophy in Mid-Century, (ed. Mace, C. A.), London: Allen & Unwin.
2. Bhaskar, R. (1975) A Realist Theory of Science 2nd. ed. Brighton: Harvester Press.
3. Will, D. (1980) Psychoanalysis as a human science. British Journal of Medical Psychology. 53, 201211.
4. Will, D. (1983) Transcendental realism and the scientificity of psychoanalysis: a reply to recent criticism. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 56, 371378.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0140-0789
  • EISSN: 2514-9954
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Psychoanalysis: Science or Nonscience?

  • Carola B. B. Mathers (a1)
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