Critique and Defense of Psychoanalysis

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I am actually not a man of science at all. . . . I am nothing but a conquistador by temperament, an adventurer.

(Sigmund Freud, letter to Fleiss, 1900)

“If you bring forth that which is in you, that which you bring forth will be your salvation”.

(The Gospel of Thomas)

“No, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we cannot get elsewhere.”

(Sigmund Freud, “The Future of an Illusion”)

Harold Bloom called Freud “The central imagination of our age”. That psychoanalysis is not a scientific theory in the strict, rigorous sense of the word has long been established. Yet, most criticisms of Freud’s work (by the likes of Karl Popper, Adolf Grunbaum, Havelock Ellis, Malcolm Macmillan, and Frederick Crews) pertain to his – long-debunked – scientific pretensions.

Today it is widely accepted that psychoanalysis – though some of its tenets are testable and, indeed, have been experimentally tested and invariably found to be false or uncorroborated – is a system of ideas. It is a cultural construct, and a...

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