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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is primarily concerned with the scientific status of psychoanalysis as a theory of psychological functioning rather than as a form of treatment. It argues that certain characteristics of psychoanalysis, including theoretical formulations that are often obscure and untethered to observation, the proliferation of psychoanalytic ‘schools’, and habits of mind inculcated in psychoanalytic training and education count against according scientific status to psychoanalysis. The chapter also notes that psychoanalytic formulations have generated a good deal of research on psychological functioning and have yielded important insights into the nature of mind. It suggests that psychoanalytic education and training needs to change in ways that succeed in attenuating loyalty to particular psychoanalytic ‘schools’ and that encourage openness to empirical evidence and research and the operation of other self-corrective processes.

Keywords: scientific status, psychoanalytic training, clinical data, empirical evidence, theory of mind.

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