From: nicholas bollons (
Date: Wed Nov 15 1995 - 17:30:38 GMT

Abstract : The Foundations Of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical
                 Critique - By Adolf Grunbaum

The article critically examines the theoretical fundementals of
Psychoanalysis it's theraputic principles, and the weaknesses and
failures that have been identified by contempary Psychologists and
Philosophers alike.

Grunbaum begins with an explanation of the hermenuetic criticisms of
Freud's work by Habermas and Ricoeur who both attacked the validity of
theory and therapy."Strictly speaking there are no facts in
psychoanalysis only analyst's interpretations"(Ricoeur 1970). But what
Ricoeur has mis interpreted is the idea behind cause and effect that
Freud was trying to identify and not to empirically prove "reasons
rather than causes" for human conduct (Klein 1976)

The main weakness of Frued's theory is there empirical testability to
which Popper ( contempary Philosopher ) rejected this possibility of
testing psychoanalysis logically (we have all dicovered that
introspection is an empirical/ scientific "dead horse") and degraded
Freudianism to the status of a non science.

This leads onto the refutability of the methods employed by
psychoanalysis and it is this aspect that we see major flaws not only
in scientific analysis but also in Freud's status in Psychology. The
idea of implied and suggested symptomology (that the therapist has the
ability to create neurosises through words and phrasing ) is not
unknown to us .The article identifies the curing of neurosis (though i
feel Grunbaum uses the word too liberally -there have not been enough
long term Psychoanalysis studies carried out to verify both cure, and
cause and effect) and patients being successfully analyzed.The theories
and methodological approach crumble around Frued's feet ,but he
continued to appraies his work and it was not for years that he began
to renounce some of his theories (Necessary Condition Thesis )

The idea of repression is pre dominant in Psychoanalysis and it is the
appraisal and criticism of this that the last part of the article
concentrates on . In respect to Freud "the improvements observed after
treatment were caused by the lifting of the repression " (Grunbaum) and
that therapy sessions are catalysts for the emergence of repression
.And that" lifting repressions caused symptoms to dis appear". This
holds some weight in trying to keep the " Psychiatry boat " afloat:
but unfortunately there are just too many "leaks " .

Free association is contaminated by therapy suggestion and "does not
play the role it is claimed to play in revealing repressions "(Erikson
1954) . Has therapy actually "cured" the neurosis cause or does the
patient only percieve that he is cured due to them having been to
therapy and something has been discovered This "placebo effect" was
ignored by Freud,and although it has had little testing ,using control
groups to identify wether therapy has worked , it remains important
evidence against Psychoanalysis. Freud's work on dream analysis falls
apart on the basis of the problems identified to free association and
the weak link between Freudian slip's and repreesion are identified by

The summary ends with an anacdote similar to my "sinking ship " idea :
that although Psychoanalysis is alive it is" considerably unwell "
And although Grunbaum identifies the citics and criticism's towards
Freud's work , he in fact comes over as considerably sympathetic
towards Psychoanalysis . He denotes that" extra clinical findings will
either validate or disconfirm Freudian theory" and until then the ship
will continue to steer it's way through troubled waters.

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