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The Freud Wars: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis Paperback – May 19, 2005
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About the Author
Lavinia Gomez is a psychotherapist in private practice in London.
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She observes, "'The Freud Wars' was launched by an uncompromising personal and theoretical attack by a professor of literature and formerly sympathetic proponent of psychoanalysis who had gone on to become its unrelenting critic. Frederick Crews' 'The Unknown Freud' [reprinted in The Memory Wars]... condemns the whole edifice of psychoanalysis as a vast confidence trick played on suggestible patients and an unwary public by an unscrupulous and self-seeking psychoanalytic establishment. The documentary evidence makes clear, he maintains, that the observations on which psychoanalysis is based are mostly fabrications, cynically constructed out of Freud's insatiable craving for recognition as a scientific celebrity. Psychoanalysis, as Crews sees it, is at best a bankrupt science and at worst a counterfeit science... Crews' objections to psychoanalysis' claim to scientific status are drawn largely from [Adolf] Grünbaum's work ]." (Pg. 6)
She notes, "It will come as no surprise to hear that 'The Freud Wars' were neither won nor lost. Inside and outside the psychoanalytic world, psychoanalysis continues to be viewed in line with the different verdicts reached, with little discussion and scarcely a hint of resolution. Essential psychoanalytic concepts from the 'unconscious' to the 'ego' have entered into ordinary language, suggesting an informed endorsement, but adjacent disciplines such as psychiatry and psychology typically treat it as little more than an old-fashioned conjecture. Even within psychoanalysis itself... there is no consensus on where its authority lies: practitioners and theorists are divided as to whether its ideas are scientific or interpretative by nature. There are thus two questions for this enquiry to consider. Can psychoanalysis be justified at all? And should its acceptance or rejection depend on scientific or hermeneutical principles of knowledge?" (Pg. 8)
She states that "Against his best intentions, Grünbaum's critique makes clear that psychoanalysis cannot fit comfortably into the contours of an orthodox natural science, but in attempting to force it into such a structure he distorts it to such an extent that his conclusions are undermined." (Pg. 33) About Thomas Nagel's defense of psychoanalysis, she notes, "All that Nagel's expanded review can tell us for sure is that Grünbaum was right: whatever else may vindicate psychoanalysis, the principles of mainstream empirical science cannot do so... Nagel's arguments establish that in spite of Grünbaum's doubts, the (relative) permanence of the Freudian revolution suggests strongly that the basic concepts of psychoanalysis must be founded on something more than a series of lucky breaks. But it is through the 'cultural critierion' that Nagel persuades us of this, rather than through his account of psychoanalysis as an empirical science." (Pg. 53)
She summarizes, "Where does this leave psychoanalysis? ... From conventional perspectives, it has no easy classification. Marooned between the two theoretical hemispheres, it combines the practical immediacy of hermeneutics with the accent on substantive conclusions of empirical science. On Freud's explicit foundations, psychoanalysis appears a maverick subject; but when these foundations are developed, its very ambidextrousness brings its critical edge to the fore. Psychoanalysis then gravitates most naturally towards other branches of enquiry in which critique takes precedence over dogma. Perpetually hovering between the practical and the theoretical, the hermeneutic and the empirical, it challenges our inngrained theoretical habits as much as our customary views of ourselves." (Pg. 104)
This book will interest those studying the "foundational" principles of psychoanalysis.