Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis


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However, it remains unclear how the therapeutic transition from causal laws to hermeneutic relationships should occur. In this respect, autonomy means to be governed by the right laws. While causal explanations state an inevitable and lawful relationship between cause and effect, hermeneutic explanations rely on deferred reconstructions.

Several concepts of causality exist. Scientific research depends on the investigation of necessary, lawful relationships. Such a necessary relationship corresponds logically to the modus ponens, i. It should be noted that according to the modus ponens, this relationship is not reversible, i. Causes are not necessary conditions, because an effect may be well caused by different causes. These other circumstances can be considered additional causes for this effect — most effects are due to a multitude of causes multicausality.

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This description is actually well consistent with the deferred statement of reasons in hermeneutic explanations. Causes only need to induce specific effects inevitably — and this is indeed the case whenever reasons are accepted as valid explanations for actions. Again, this explanation is only valid given other circumstances, ceteris paribus — e. Furthermore, this criterion exactly describes a characteristic feature of psychoanalytic interpretations. On the other hand, it is not claimed that this reconstruction is the only correct one; in principle, the current symptom may as well have been caused by other circumstances.

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Therefore, psychoanalytic interpretations give sufficient, but not necessary explanations of psychopathological symptoms, similar to causal explanations. Finally, a criterion for causal explanations is that cause and effect are only related by a mediating mechanism, so that this relationship does not exist a priori , or semantically. Therefore, hypotheses on causal relationships remain in principle falsifiable — their truth may be disputed, and additional evidence may be demanded.

As hypotheses on causal explanations state a necessary, lawful relationship, they can be falsified even by a single observation of a situation in which a cause is not followed by an effect. It has been suggested that these characteristics of hypotheses on causal relationships to be surprising and falsifiable do not apply for explanations of actions by a reason. According to this line of argumentation, a typical explanation from a first-person-perspective e. For example, a patient suffering from alcohol dependence may indicate as a cause of his alcohol consume that he only drinks for pleasure; in reality, his alcohol consume may have an entirely different function, for example to interrupt unbearable thoughts and memories.

Such rationalizations of behavior are typically not voluntary deceptions, but remain intransparent for the patient himself. On the contrary: a thorough analysis of the criteria for successful interpretations in psychoanalytical therapies reveals that only those interpretations can be considered successful which are initially surprising for the patient.

Taken together, these arguments show that causal and hermeneutic explanations are — in contrast to common belief — not only well compatible with each other, but even adhere to similar truth criteria. This, however, does not mean that current psychoanalytic theories are already both hermeneutic and causal; this would require a well-accepted metapsychological foundation, which allows one to actually generate falsifiable predictions.

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Indeed, a practical rather than epistemological difference between interpretations during psychoanalytic therapy and causal explanations in an experimental context is that in the latter case, a limited number of several possible causes is usually known in advance; during psychoanalysis, the situation is much more open and complex, making it more difficult to find possible explanations apart from even testing them.

The epistemological consistency between causal and hermeneutic explanations is closely linked to the neuropsychoanalytic endeavor: on the one hand, it represents a crucial philosophical requirement for the overall possibility of this field; on the other hand, neuropsychoanalytic research may one day result in a new metapsychology, i.

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It is not at all impossible that adequate cognitive or neurophysiologic correlates of the different defense mechanisms can be found. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Anderson, M. Neural systems underlying the suppression of unwanted memories. Science , — Axmacher, N.

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Natural memory beyond the storage model: repression, trauma, and the construction of a personal past. CrossRef Full Text. Toward a neural understanding of emotional oscillation and affect regulation: investigating the dynamic unconscious and transference. An interdisciplinary study. Neuropsychoanalysis 14, — Bieri, P. Das Handwerk der Freiheit.


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Brenner, C. An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis. Buchheim, A. Not everything in the life of a human being can be accelerated. The potential to suffer greatly and also to recover and enjoy life is within each person. All fields are necessary. Comments will be reviewed before publication.

Your e-mail will only be used to inform you of your comment's status, it will never be published. The ethics of psychoanalysis Previous Next. Previous Next. Comments 0 Make a comment. In clear and readable prose, Mitchell makes a case for retaining autonomy and authenticity as primary analytic objectives to be achieved through interpersonal influence rather than despite it.

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Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis is a marvelously rich, quietly courageous work that shows us where we've come in psychoanalysis and where we need to be heading. He is without peer in the breadth and depth of his understanding of the movement, interplay, and direction of ideas constituting contemporary psychoanalytic thought.

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In Mitchell's hands, creativity and spontaneity on the part of the analyst live comfortably with careful and rigorous listening, observing, and thinking. This book is a wonderful contribution with which to mark the beginning of the second century of the practice of psychoanalysis. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join.


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    Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Table of Contents Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews "Among the issues that matter now to psychoanalysts, none outweighs the one Stephen Mitchell takes up here: how, paradoxically, whatever shred of autonomy each of us has in creating ourselves as human beings might be enhanced by a treatment in which we expect to be influenced by the authority and knowledge of another person.

    Prologue: Interaction and the Problem of Technique p. All Rights Reserved.

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