Could Psychoanalysis Be a Science?
University of London - Heythrop College
September 20, 2011
Fulford, K. W. M. et al (eds) Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (Forthcoming)
Could psychoanalysis be a science? There are three ways of reading this question, which will structure our discussion:
1. Is psychoanalysis the kind of investigation or activity that could, logically speaking, be ‘scientific’? If we can defend a positive answer here, then it makes sense to ask:
2. Is psychoanalysis, in the form in which it has traditionally been practiced, and continues to be practiced, a science? If there are good reasons to doubt its credentials, then we might ask:
3. Is psychoanalysis able to become a science? This is a question about what is needed for the necessary transformation.
I shall argue that psychoanalysis can be a science (§1), but that the historical debate raised important challenges to its methodology, viz. confirmation bias (§2.1), suggestion (§2.2), and unsupportable causal inference (§2.3). I argue that recent developments (§3.1-2) meet these challenges, and conclude with some reflections on the interdisciplinary nature of psychoanalysis (§3.3).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: Psychoanalysis, science, suggestion, confirmation bias, clinical dataAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 4, 2012
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