July 18, 2003

Theory & Practice

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Psychoanalytic Development

"The final section of this book is a historical summary that begins with a chapter entitled “A History of Theoretical Innovation,” which summarizes the previous chapters. For Gedo, the theoretical revolution arose from the insight that the central nervous system is primarily an information processor in which significant energy transfers are not involved. He emphasizes that the hypotheses of psychoanalysis must conform to contemporary knowledge in brain science, cognitive psychology, and child observation. Gedo states that previous hypotheses about early childhood have been excessively adultomorphic and pathomorphic—that preverbal children are not comparable to maladaptive adults. In “Recent Clinical Discourse,” Gedo compares the rapid change in psychoanalytic theory with the stability of its clinical propositions, asserting that a strong ecumenical tendency may predominate in contemporary psychoanalysis. For Gedo, analytic success to date has depended on analysts’ skills in overcoming the influence of the invalid theories that were allegedly guiding them. The concluding chapter comments upon the characteristic imperviousness of several psychoanalytic traditions to fresh data—especially extraclinical data. Gedo observes that this does not represent refuted scientific theory but, rather, a philosophy of mind. Gedo follows the predominant views of the monist position on the mind–body question, classifying psychoanalysis as a biological science. He favours Modell’s emphasis on the privacy of self and the importance of solitary experiences for autonomous development, agreeing that memories of successful activity (rather than benign internal objects) enable children to manage on their own. Gedo concludes that the “curative factor in psychoanalysis must be the acquisition of new procedural schemata by means of the actions performed in the analytic situation.” Gedo believes that psychoanalysis is in the midst of a metamorphosis, although most practitioners continue their clinical work in the manner in which they were trained. He concludes that “the most difficult task facing the next generation of psychoanalysts will be to abandon those of our traditional procedures, the rationales of which have been invalidated by fresh evidence.
The Evolution of Psychoanalysis: Contemporary Theory and Practice. John Gedo Review by Ian Steinberg

Freud: His Life and Thought
Relational Perspectives in Psychoanalysis
Shadow of the Other: Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis By Jessica Benjamin Review by Harriet Kimble Wrye

Posted by psyche at July 18, 2003 08:34 PM