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Ways of Knowing: An Examination of Freud’s Psychoanalytical Theory as a Language

Morley, R. (1999). Ways of Knowing: An Examination of Freud’s Psychoanalytical Theory as a Language. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Since the basic concepts of psychoanalysis began to be developed by Breuer & Freud (1893) many subsequent variations have grown from them with the intention of explaining more adequately why the process of talking should have a therapeutic effect. Two kinds of psychoanalytical theories about the human mind have been produced, clinical and metapsychological. The former provides explanations relevant to the clinical situation with the object of understanding the therapeutic action of the session. The latter attempts to provide a conceptual framework for the ideas derive from clinical practice. Both may be thought of as ways of finding a mode of expression through language of formerly inexpressible matters, or as Spence (1987) puts it 'to put the unspeakable and unthinkable into words’, as might be expected for theories which are founded upon what may be derived from the conversation between the analyst and analysand. The metapsychological theory thus offers a framework for clinical practice within which particular kinds of verbalization become possible. Freud’s theory, focusing on issues of sexuality and instinctual development, enabled verbalizations of a kind that may have been impossible before. Because of the medical implications of the symptoms from which relief may be sought and perhaps also because of the medical origins of the therapy in 19th Century Vienna attempts were made to establish the credentials of the theories within the medico-scientific concepts of the day. Freud himself developed over a period of almost a half-century an impressive theoretical structure on those foundations, which despite the variations which have subsequently developed, remains as a substantial basis for most of them. Concepts such as the libido; the ego and the id; the mechanisms of defence; repression; primary and secondary processes; transference and counter transference; unconscious and conscious processes: the castration and cedipal complexes, and other concepts continue to provide many of the fundamental elements of modern psychoanalytic and psychodynamic practice and thought. Despite some of the novelties which have been introduced in the new theoretical varieties, none has approached the majestic sweep of the original theories as spelled out in the twenty-four volumes of the Standard Edition of Freud’s writings. So it is on this mass of material that I propose to focus in this thesis, together with the critical comments that have been made about its epistemological basis, with the intention of trying to find an alternative for its undermined scientific status.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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