Historiography and Causation in Psychoanalysis

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9781138872080: Historiography and Causation in Psychoanalysis

What do the psychoanalyst and the historian have in common? This important question has stimulated a lively debate within the psychoanalytic profession in recent years, bearing as it does on the very nature of the psychoanalytic enterprise.  Edwin Wallace, a clinician with training in the history and philosophy of science, brings a ranging scholarly perspective to the debate, mediating between rival perspectives and clarifying the issues at stake in the process of offering his own thoughtful conception of the historical nature of psychoanalysis.  For Wallace, the procedures, problems, and interpretive possibilities of psychoanalysis and history are strikingly constant and mutually illuminating.  He insists, further, that the fundamentally historical nature of psychoanalysis poses no threat to its scientific dignity.

In arriving at this verdict, Wallace pushes beyond his expansive treatment of the many parallels between history and psychoanalysis to a systematic consideration of the problem of causation in both disciplines.  Tracing the historical background of causation in science, philosophy, history, and analysis, he offers a logical analysis of determinism and a critique of causal language in psychoanalysis while adumbrating the historical character of psychoanalytic explanation.

Historiography and Causation in Psychoanalysis is a thought-provoking work that cuts across disciplinary boundaries. It will cultivate the historical sensibilities of all its clinical readers, broadening and deepening the intellectual perspective they bring to the dialogue about the nature of psychoanalytic work.  Timely and rewarding reading for analysts, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists, it will be welcomed by historians and philosophers as well.

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About the Author:

Edward R. Wallace, IV, M.D., is Director of Psychotherapy Education and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia.  In addition to his psychiatric training, he holds an M.A. in history from Johns Hopkins University and is a member of the Editorial Board of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.  He is the author of Dynamic Psychiatry in Theory and Practice (1983) and Freud and Anthropology: A History and Reappraisal (1983) and is coeditor (with Lucius Pressley) of Essays in the History of Psychiatry (1980).


"A thoughtful and purposeful monograph that makes its points in a clear and telling fashion and weaves a prudent course between the dangers of oversimplification or an overly restrictive view of the historical aspects of psychoanalytic knowledge on the one hand, and the complexification . . . that would run the risk of obscuring the validity of the historical analogy in psychoanalytic work."

- W. W. Meissner, M.D., Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases 

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