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Freud’s Permanent Revolution’: An Exchange

In response to:

Freud's Permanent Revolution from the May 12, 1994 issue

To the Editors:

In “Freud’s Permanent Revolution” [NYR, May 12], Thomas Nagel endorses Richard Wollheim’s and Paul Robinson’s 1993 critiques of my book The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique, 1 and he offers criticisms of his own. Alas, both Wollheim and Robinson demonstrably base their critiques on fundamental misportrayals of the avowed aims and contents of my Foundations. By relying on their strictures, Nagel builds much of his case on quicksand.

According to Wollheim, for example, my book concentrates entirely on the here-and-now clinical (“on the couch”) testability of Freudian theory.2 On the contrary, only 30 pages of my 310-page critique focus on the issue of testability, and I explicitly went beyond present clinical tests to future epidemiologic and experimental ones. Thus, I proposed a specific extraclinical, epidemiologic test of Freud’s homosexual etiology of paranoia. Indeed, Wollheim entirely conceded my case (Foundations, p. 278) when he expressed “the hope…that eventually tests will be devised, presumably of an extra-clinical kind” (p. 109), which may supply the now conspicuously absent support for general Freudian psychological principles such as the crucial etiologies of symptom formation and the theory of psycho-sexual development. But in any event, both Wollheim and Nagel overlook the real core of my 1984 argument, which is that, testing aside, Freud’s presented arguments and actual evidence simply fail to sustain the major pillars of his theory of repression. And in my 1993 book Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis, which Nagel consigns to a footnote, I contended that Freud’s theory of dreams is false at its core.

As another straw man, Wollheim complains (p. 107) that my critique of Freud makes no allowance for the “infra-structure” of the theory, an animadversion endorsed by Nagel. Qua example of such infra-structure, Wollheim recalls Freud’s postulate that repressed homosexuality develops into paranoia via the operation of the defense mechanisms of reaction-formation and projection. But I myself gave a careful account of precisely that mediating dynamics to which I referred as Freud’s postulated “causal micro-structure” (Foundations, p. 76). Neither Freud nor any tests conducted after him furnished evidence pertaining to the mediating micro-structure. However, I offered refuting evidence against his hypothesis that repressed homosexuality is the causal sine qua non of paranoid delusions, a distinctive hypothesis not avowed by rival theories. Such contrary evidence is furnished by the existence of overtly practicing homosexuals who are paranoid, and by the fact that some paranoiacs feel persecuted by people of the opposite gender in the absence of a “primary” persecutor of the same gender, who is required by Freud’s etiology. I presented these refuting findings in publications of 1986 and 1993 cited by Nagel, who nonetheless simply ignored them.

Oddly, Nagel regards as “telling” against me Wollheim’s question “How is common sense psychology tested?” In the case of its ubiquitous causal hypotheses, such as that insults anger or humiliate people, good tidings create joy, or that people tend to put on protective clothing because they feel cold, I reply: To warrant that a factor of sort X (such as being insulted) is causally relevant to a kind of outcome Y (such as being angered or feeling humiliated) in a reference class C, evidence is required that the incidence of Y’s in the subclass of X’s is different from its incidence in the subclass of non-X’s. Nagel speciously pleads the idiocy or impossibility of statistical confirmation of such general hypotheses, irrelevantly lampooning statistical evidence for their individual application to particular instances in either common sense psychology or psychoanalytic theory.

Thus, he overlooks Freud’s enunciation of the general hypothesis that slips are caused by “motives of unpleasure,” which is statistically testable. Instead, Nagel points to Freud’s concrete, “circumstantially rich” explanation that a young man forgot the Latin word “aliquis” in a quotation from Virgil, because the man feared the pregnancy of his mistress. That fear is a particular instance of a motive of unpleasure. Yet Nagel’s unavailing comment is that, in this instance, “statistical confirmation is completely impossible.”

In lieu of such confirmation, he tells us,

we simply have to decide whether this is an intuitively credible extension of a general structure of explanation that we find well supported elsewhere, and whether it is more plausible than the alternatives…

Precisely this epistemological recipe of intuitive credibility fails completely even in deciding between Freud’s own theory and the major post-Freudian alternatives to some of his central tenets offered by Heinz Kohut’s school of “self-psychology” and the British school of “object relations” theorists, which include Melanie Klein, who is championed by Wollheim but was bitterly opposed by Anna Freud. In a powerful essay, Morris Eagle has pointed out that self-psychology has repudiated virtually every one of Freud’s major tenets.3 Thus, Kohut supplants Freud’s conflict-model of psychopathology, which is based on the repression of internal sexual and aggressive wishes, by a psychology of self-defects and faulty function caused by hypothesized environmental events going back to the first two years of infancy. Relatedly, Kohut denies, contra Freud, that insight is curative, designating instead the analyst’s empathic understanding as the operative therapeutic agent. Again, the object relations theorists deny that the etiology of pathology lies in Freudian (oedipal) conflicts and traumas involving sex and aggression, claiming instead that the quality of maternal caring is the crucial factor. How could Nagel’s intuition even get a handle on deciding between these contemporary alternatives and Freud’s classical doctrines? It cannot, as he admits re the Kleinian theory. And since the intuitions of different people collide, I ask: Whose intuition is to decide which of the rival explanations “makes sense” of the phenomena correctly? Nagel’s recipe degenerates into subjectivity.

Nagel’s brand of “making sense” provides him with an “obvious,” oedipally derived, explanation of why an elderly man reputedly fell asleep whenever he began to hear stock market reports on the radio. Indeed, Nagel asserts that this case leaves “no credible alternative” to the conclusion that the old man’s unconscious was still troubled by a paternal injunction, issued over fifty years earlier, to listen to such reports. But the argument is basically flawed, if only because Freud never gave good evidence that when painful experiences are forgotten, the forgetting (construed as repression) is due to their painfulness, and thereby produces symptoms. As Freud had to acknowledge even from a childhood humiliation by his father, there are numerous instances of painful experiences that are persistently remembered vividly and even obsessively.

Thus, as we learn from a review of Darwin’s Autobiography [NYR, October 10, 1991, p. 31], “Darwin (presumably Charles Darwin’s father] had developed a remarkably retentive memory for painful experiences….” Yet Freud declares peremptorily without any statistical evidence:4 “The tendency to forget what is disagreeable seems to me to be a quite universal one.” Indeed just that ill-supported assumption is crucial to his entire theory of repression, which holds axiomatically that negative affect of various sorts (trauma, anxiety, motives of unpleasure) actuate forgetting to the point of repression and symptom production. Apparently Freud did not recognize that factors other than the painfulness of an experience determine whether it is remembered or forgotten. But the discernment of these factors is a key to understanding the as yet unknown statistics of the ratio of forgetting to recall of negatively charged experiences. And absent such statistics, there is clearly insufficient grounds for attributing the forgetting of negative experiences to their affective displeasure, let alone for ascribing neurotic symptoms to the repression of such experiences.

Nagel uncritically does just that when he takes the elderly man’s failing asleep during the stock market reports as a neurotic symptom, rather than, say, a case of boredom, and attributes to negative affect the forgetting of the paternal injunction. Besides, Nagel does not tell us whether the gentleman ceased falling asleep once he had lifted his own presumed repression of that injunction, as expected by Freudian therapeutic theory. Nor does he allow for the psychiatrist’s rash creation of a mind-set in the gentleman, when he told him, without any additional information, that his falling asleep during the stock market news “probably expressed difficult feelings about his father.” Thus, far from being “obvious,” Nagel’s Freudian explanation of this sleep pattern is simply baseless and contrived.

Nagel also falters when he joins Wollheim in objecting that, unless I can produce a theory of just how suggestion operates, I am not entitled to invoke suggestion as a cause of patient compliance with the therapist’s ideas. Why not? Surely pharmacologists concerned with assessing the therapeutic efficacy of the chemical content of drugs were entitled to assert that the suggested expectation of improvement makes for placebogenic gain, even though they had as yet no knowledge of the mediating dynamics of placebogenic therapeutic efficacy.5 Clearly, such entitlement did not have to await the discovery that placebos activate the psychogenic secretion of therapeutic endorphins, interferon, and steroids. The same point applies to suggestion operating in the course of psychoanalytic treatment, as shown by studies I cited in Foundations (pp. 211-212) and by recent research on induced false memories (New York Times, May 31, 1994).

Nagel asserts falsely with David Sachs and Paul Robinson that, in my view, “therapeutic success…[is] the empirical ground on which Freud’s theories must stand or fall.” This account is wrong, if only because I stressed the need for extra-clinical evidence, and even proposed the aforementioned epidemiologic test of Freud’s etiology of paranois. Nagel carries coals to Newcastle by citing against me (footnote 10) a statement by Freud that I myself had both quoted and explained in Foundations (p. 141). It is incontestable that Freud offered a therapeutic justification for the etiologic probativeness he attributed to his method of free association.6 But, as I pointed out in publications mentioned by Nagel,7 once Freud had convinced himself, on therapeutic grounds, that free association is etiologically probative in some cases, he also felt justified in deeming the method reliable as a means of uncovering the etiologies of the narcissistic neuroses—such as paranoia—in which he avowedly expected no therapeutic success. True, in his account of the Irma specimen dream, Freud offered a non-therapeutic argument for the use of free association as a method of dream interpretation. But, as I have shown (Foundations, ch. 5), there his case is transparently one of mere salesmanship.

Nagel believes that “Freud would have been delighted to tangle with Grünbaum.” But very disappointingly, he claims that the sociological fact of Freud’s supposed “pervasive” influence in our culture is “evidence for the validity” of the psychoanalytic enterprise. Yet this is a very dubious argument, if only because of the prevalence of vulgarized pseudo-Freudian concepts. Such vulgarization alone besets any attempt to give an objective answer to the question as to the extent and nature of the cultural influence of psychoanalysis proper. To illustrate this phenomenon, I gave an example of a pseudo-Freudian slip that had been provided by a psychoanalyst of long experience (Foundations, pp. 199-201). Yet my purpose was lost altogether on Nagel. Indeed, if pervasive cultural influence were evidence of validity, then religious superstitions and ethnic canards of stereotypes, which are far more prevalent than Freud’s ideas, as well as earlier witchcraft and slavery ought to possess a high degree of validity. Does Nagel apply his cultural criterion to them as well? If not, why not?

Adolf Grünbaum

Center for Philosophy of Science

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylania

To the Editors:

In his article “Freud’s Permanent Revolution” Professor Nagel defends psychoanalytic claims about the mind by arguing that they should not be judged as scientific claims. Rather, they are extensions of our ordinary understanding of the mind, our commonsense or folk psychology. According to Professor Nagel this is true in spite of the fact that folk themselves do not construct the psychoanalytic claims. Instead, the claims are formulated by a group with special and esoteric expertise as a result of their experience of analysis. However, Professor Nagel argues that the claims are legitimate because the folk are sometimes persuaded to find them plausible, and, particularly, because of the specific anecdotal revelations.

An important point that Professor Nagel does not mention is that the psychoanalytic claims not only extend commonsense psychology, they often flat out contradict both it and scientific psychology. His review includes a particularly striking example, Professor Wollheim’s claim that “we conceive when we are very young of mental states on the model of corporeal entities…of a thought of a piece of food in the mouth or as faeces.” Obviously, this claim would seem outlandish and absurd to commonsense psychology. More important, however, the nature of young children’s thoughts about thought, their understanding and knowledge of the mind, has lately been subject to a great deal of systematic experimental and naturalistic investigation, investigation that does follow precisely the scientific canons that Professor Nagel protests should not apply to psychoanalysis. The research is replicable, public, generalizable and leads to specific testable predictions. There is nothing esoteric or specialized about these claims or the evidence supporting them, they do not require years of privileged analytic experience. Professor Nagel says “it is difficult for the amateur to evaluate such claims” but I can assure him that any reasonably intelligent amateur need only read the appropriate journals in developmental psychology to be able to evaluate this research.

There is not even the faintest shred of evidence in any of this work that children ever think of thoughts as physical objects, let alone as faeces or food. In much the same way, of course, scientific cognitive psychology has found almost no evidence for the analytic accounts of memory that are currently causing so much real human misery. Children can’t both think that thoughts are faeces and not think that thoughts are faeces. So the question is, who should we believe?

To answer this question we might consider the fact that Professor Nagel’s arguments apply with exactly equal force to certain claims about the physical and biological world. We know that we have a commonsense folk physics and a folk biology as well as a folk psychology, and that these bodies of knowledge inform much of our everyday practice. The knowledge is sometimes revised or contradicted by scientific physics and biology, but sometimes the two kinds of knowledge coexist. Suppose, however, a group were to claim special esoteric knowledge about physics or biology as a result of a kind of privileged experience unavailable to the layman. These claims were not to be judged by ordinary scientific canons. Suppose, moreover, that these claims were in conflict both with commonsense physics and biology and scientific physics and biology. Many such groups exist of course, and always have. They include alchemists, astrologers, faith-healers, and magicians of many stripes. Their claims are often believed by many folk on the basis of precisely the sort of anecdotes Professor Nagel cites. For every member of the folk who can tell a story about a specific revelation due to analysis, there are dozens with similar stories about astrology and faith-healing. Magicians may be figures of great personal charisma, they may be imaginative, they may even provide real help to some, and their ideas, however unfounded, may be the basis for real insight when taken up by scientists (Giordano Bruno believed in heliocentrism). Magical claims to knowledge, however, are not usually defended by serious philosophers in serious journals. And, in the long run, truth is better for all of us than falsehood, knowledge is better than ignorance, and science is better than magic.

Alison Gopnik

Associate Professor

Department of Psychology

University of California

Berkeley, California

To the Editors:

As a psychoanalyst it was with relief and admiration that Iread Thomas Nagel’s sensible yet profound understanding of Freud, a powerful antidote to Frederick Crews’s attack on Freud [NYR, November 18, 1993], characterized by Nagel as “fatally benighted.” Yet Nagel may be unnecessarily conceding too much when he doubts that experimentation can support Freud’s position, or that it is needed at all. Nagel’s claim that the fundamental psychoanalytic belief in an unconscious mental life can be corroborated by impressive instances that appear inexplicable on any other grounds, unfortunately runs afoul of other contending explanations whose champions assert otherwise. And how is one to choose among these claims? Nagel appears to affirm the small, still voice of reason—his (and mine), but not theirs.

Unlike Nagel, who believes that an accumulation of clinical evidence ultimately will corroborate the tenet of an unconscious mental life, Freud himself looked upon the unconscious as an assumption for which evidence independent of the psychoanalytic situation had to be obtained.8 He believed that post-hypnotic suggestion provided that independent evidence; unfortunately the unconscious nature of post-hypnotic suggestion remains to this day very much in dispute. However, in a lengthy footnote in The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud prophetically identified a method that was to prove invaluable as a means for corroborating the existence of an unconscious independently of the psychoanalytic situation.9 I refer to Freud’s admiring reference to Otto Poetzl’s pioneering work on subliminal perception that, he felt, would open the door to fuller understanding of the unconscious.

Since the appearance of that footnote literally hundreds of experimental studies employing subliminal stimuli have demonstrated that the mind perceives and grasps complex meaning when the stimuli register entirely out of awareness.10 Many of these studies have been undertaken by academic psychologists who still look askance at the more baroque clinical uses to which psychoanalysts put the unconscious. They are willing to affirm the existence of a cognitive unconscious, but resist the claim that motives, fantasies, and conflicts—the dynamic unconscious—can exist. Freud would certainly not settle for this pale version of an unconscious mental life. Nor in the light of other evidence, need he.

The research Iwill cite takes its point of departure from the same sophisticated materialism Nagel cites as characterizing Freud’s metaphysical outlook: if conscious mental processes are also physical events in the brain, then by analogy so must unconscious mental processes be physical events in the brain. It should thus be possible to demonstrate that subliminal stimuli evoke brain responses that can be measured quite independently of the psychological nature of the stimuli themselves. This we have succeeded in doing in a series of published studies.11 In addition, we have shown that quite sophisticated clinical hypotheses concerning the unconscious causes of such symptoms as phobias can be tested in the same manner by selecting patients’ words and brief phrases deemed by the psychoanalysts to derive from these unconscious causes and then to present them subliminally as well as supraliminally (in consciousness).12 These clinically selected stimuli result in different patterns of brain responses depending on whether they have been presented subliminally or supraliminally. In fact, we have shown that these brain responses correctly classify the words as going together only when they are presented subliminally; when supraliminal the brain responses appear to treat these words as unrelated to each other. It is not too daring an interpretation to suppose that some defensive activity intervenes when these words related to the hypothesized unconscious causes are presented in consciousness. But once out of awareness the brain evidence supports the psychoanalytically derived clinical hypotheses that the words belong together.

I would submit that experimental results of this order provide Freud with the independent evidence he knew he required, and should accord Nagel’s reasonable belief in his own judgments a measure of objective support.

Howard Shevrin

Professor of Psychology

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Thomas Nagel replies:

Since my comments on Grünbaum occurred in a review of two books by other people, I am glad of this opportunity for a more direct exchange.

A fundamental problem in making progress with this dispute is that there is no agreement over what should be regarded as Freud’s distinctive contribution, specifically for the purpose of assessing its validity, value, or degree of empirical support. Grünbaum identifies it with a set of general psychological principles; I identify it with a form of understanding, which manifests itself in countless individual interpretations and explanations. We both agree that psychoanalytic hypotheses are causal, and require empirical confirmation; but we differ as to the kind of evidence that is most important.

I don’t deny the importance of possible future epidemiologic and experimental tests of the sort that Grünbaum refers to. And perhaps the unspecified developmental research mentioned by Alison Gopnik would reinforce the doubts I expressed about the Kleinian description of infantile fantasies that she quotes in her letter. Howard Shevrin’s letter presents very interesting evidence of a quite different kind for the neurophysiological reality of specific unconscious mental mechanisms, and I hope such experiments will teach us more in the future. But my central disagreement with Grünbaum, as with Gopnik, is about whether there is now, in advance of all such experiments, substantial reason to believe in the unconscious and psychoanalytic explanations which refer to it—reasons of a kind that were also available to Freud.

I don’t think the crucial question for evaluating Freud’s legacy is whether he was right (to take Grünbaum’s example) in proposing that repressed homosexuality is a necessary causal condition of paranoid delusions. Even apart from the likelihood that paranoid delusions often have nonpsychological causes, this universal generalization seems thoroughly implausible on its face; and no doubt Freud’s writings are filled with general hypotheses that are just as false. But the core of his contribution lies elsewhere, in a form of insight that depends not on the application of specifically psychoanalytic laws but on the extension of the familiar forms of psychological explanation beyond their traditional, rational domain.

I make a point of the continuity between psychoanalytic and common-sense explanations because I believe that psychoanalysis can borrow empirical evidence for its most important general foundations from the ubiquitous confirmation of the system of ordinary psychological explanation in everyday life. (Here I follow not only Richard Wollheim but two other philosophers, Donald Davidson and James Hopkins, who develop this point of view much more thoroughly than I can do here.)13 Common-sense psychology depends not just on causal generalizations of the kind Grünbaum cites, that insults anger people, that good tidings create joy, etc.; a list of such laws wouldn’t take you very far in understanding people. Much more important is the general scheme by which we try to make sense of others as more or less rational beings—each with a complex system of beliefs, assumptions, preferences, desires, values, aims, and dispositions to make inferences—and interpret their conduct as purposive and intentional in the light of these conditions.

The fundamental causal principle of common-sense psychology is that in most cases, you can discover causally relevant conditions (conditions that make a difference in precisely Grünbaum’s sense) for a human action or thought or emotion by fitting it into a rationally coherent interpretation of the whole person as an intentional subject of this type—by seeing how from the person’s point of view it is in some way justified. Interpretation reveals causation, because that’s the kind of system a human being is. And this principle is so well supported in endless simple cases where it can be confirmed by the possibilities of prediction and control, that we are fully warranted in applying the same principle to identify psychological causes in unique and unrepeatable cases: by trying to make intentional and purposive sense of them.

That’s what I mean by intuitive plausibility, and it necessarily applies in the first instance to specific explanations, rather than to general principles. I believe the essence of Freud’s method was to extend the reach of this explanatory system to areas of human behavior and feeling where it had previously not seemed that sense could be found. In this way he increased our understanding of the influence of the mind, but confirmation goes from the particular to the general: the general theory of repression and psychosexual development has to be supported by its individual instances, rather than the reverse.

I don’t have the sort of experience that would enable me to form a judgment on the conflicts between different post-Freudian theories at the level of general principles. But the general Freudian method of extending the familiar interpretive scheme of psychological explanation to the unconscious in particular cases, the method on which all such theories depend for evidence, is something that all of us should be able to confirm from our own experience: it is simply a matter of making sense of irrational or unintentional or involuntary conduct, when it fits into the same type of pattern so familiar from ordinary psychology, with some of the blanks filled in by thoughts or wishes of which the subject is not aware. In this way what is unintelligible to naive common sense may be seen as “justified” after all, from a concealed aspect of the subject’s point of view.

The case of the stock-market sleeper, standing for countless others, was supposed to illustrate the point; Grünbaum’s reaction to it shows how far apart we are. First he says that Freud was wrong to think that there is a tendency to forget painful experiences. I entirely agree that this is not a universal tendency. (The opposite is true for me.) But the point is irrelevant, because no generalization of this kind enters into the grounds for the explanation, which depends only on the particulars of the case. Next, Grünbaum says I don’t allow for “the psychiatrist’s rash creation of a mind-set in the gentleman, when he told him, without any additional information, that his falling asleep during the stock market news ‘probably expressed difficult feelings about his father.”’ Grünbaum seems to have missed the significance of the crucial background evidence, known to the psychiatrist, of the man’s ambivalence toward his inherited wealth, as shown by his unusual life as a private scholar on the periphery of the academy. That is what prompted the interpretation, since in light of the background, the otherwise puzzling symptom makes expressive sense. The recovered memory, vividly evoked by the interpretive suggestion, falls into place like another piece cut from the same jigsaw puzzle, and strongly reinforces the “sense” of the symptom—though this is obviously just the beginning of the story: we don’t know what blend of defiance, fear, love, and guilt characterized the man’s actual feelings about his father.

But Grünbaum won’t have any of this. His reference to “creation of a mind-set” implies, I take it, that the memory was probably false, and was planted by the suggestion of the psychiatrist. To prefer this alternative to the one which makes sense of the symptom reveals, I think, both Grünbaum’s deep-seated allergy to the admission of unconscious motives and his readiness to call on suggestion as an all-purpose alternative explanation with the slimmest excuse. I don’t know whether the symptom ceased after this episode, but no doubt if it had, Grünbaum would have attributed that to suggestion too.

In appealing to the pervasive influence of Freudian ideas on modern self-consciousness, I meant that we all employ these forms of understanding constantly—that experience continually presents us with circumstances where they are appropriate. Evidently this is not true of Grünbaum; perhaps he regards it all as so much vulgarization. Let me try to answer his final question, however. Religious superstitions, ethnic canards, witchcraft, and slavery are very different examples of entrenched error, but I’ll focus on witchcraft, which is often brought up in these debates.14 Neither of us believes in witchcraft, but the interesting question is, Why? Would Grünbaum appeal to controlled experiments establishing that curses issued by fully certified witches have no statistical effect on the death rate of their victims? I wouldn’t be interested in such data even if they existed; my reason for dismissing witchcraft, even though countless people have believed and still believe in it, is that we know on much more general grounds that the world doesn’t work that way. There are no supernatural forces that can be invoked by sticking pins in a doll. This simply follows from a general knowledge of physics and biology.

But psychoanalysis is not a theory of supernatural forces. It is an extension of psychological explanation to further phenomena within the domain of its original application—i.e. the lives of human beings with minds. This is not in any way incompatible with the rest of our scientific understanding of how things work. It is part of our idea of the natural order that people’s behavior is influenced by their mental condition: that the influence should be larger and more various than we originally thought should not surprise us.15

A final comment on therapeutic efficacy, which is indirectly relevant to the issue of confirmation. I have had no first-hand experience of psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, but I know many people who have. While I don’t know whether psychoanalysis is more or less effective in eliminating unwanted symptoms than medication or behavior therapy, for example, I am quite sure that it has a different kind of effect on patients from more “external” forms of treatment. My observation is that psychoanalysis can confer a valuable form of self-knowledge which is deep though essentially perceptual and not theoretical, and that this self-understanding, whether or not it cures neuroses directly, can be used by those who have it to anticipate, identify, and manage forms of irrationality that would otherwise victimize or even disable them. It also permits a subtler response to neurotic irrationality in others, through the enhancement of psychological imagination. For this reason I believe it will survive the development of simpler symptomatic cures, even though, because of its cost in time and money, the traditional form will always be an option only for a small minority.

  1. 1

    University of California Press, 1984; hereafter cited as “Foundation.”

  2. 2

    The Mind and Its Depths (Harvard University Press, 1993),p. 102.

  3. 3

    The Dynamics of Theory Change in Psychoanalysis,” in J. Earman, et al., editors, Philosophical Problems of the Internal and External Worlds: Essays on the Philosophy of Adolf Grünbaum (University of Pittsburgh Press/University of Konstanz Press, 1993), pp. 373-408.

  4. 4

    Standard Edition, Vol. 6, p. 144.

  5. 5

    See Adolf Grünbaum, “The Placebo Concept in Medicine and Psychiatry,” Psychological Medicine, Vol. 16 (1986), pp. 19-38.

  6. 6

    Standard Edition, Vol. 5, p. 528.

  7. 7

    Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol. 9 (June 1986), p. 273; Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis (International Universities Press, 1993), p. 25.

  8. 8

    Sigmund Freud, The Unconscious, Standard Edition, Volume 14 (The Hogarth Press, 1915-1960), p. 166.

  9. 9

    Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Standard Edition, p. 181, footnote 2 added in the 1919 edition.

  10. 10

    Norman F. Dixon, Preconscious Processing (Wiley, 1981) presents a reasonably recent comprehensive review of subliminal studies. Also Howard Shevrin, “Subliminal Perception and Dreaming,” Journal of Mind and Behavior, Vol. 7, Nos. 2-3, (1986), pp. 379-396; and Howard Shevrin, “Repression and dissociation: implications for personality, psychopathology and health,” in J. Singer, ed., Subliminal Perception and Repression (University of Chicago Press, 1990).

  11. 11

    Most of the relevant earlier research has appeared in a variety of scientific journals including Science, Psychophysiology, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, and was summarized in a Psychological Issues monograph (30, 1973) under the title Brain Wave Correlates of Subliminal Stimulation, Unconscious Attention, Primary and Secondary Process Thinking and Repressiveness. Other investigators have also reported brain correlates of unconscious processes, notably Benjamin Libet who has discovered the existence of a brain process called a readiness potential that precedes the conscious decision to act, thus showing that what we experience as a conscious decision to act begins unconsciously. Libet, Wright, and Gleason, “Readiness potentials preceding unrestricted ‘spontaneous’ vs. preplanned voluntary acts,” Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 54 (1982), pp. 322-335.

  12. 12

    Howard Shevrin, William J. Williams, Robert E. Marshall, Richard K. Hertel, James A. Bond, and Linda A. Brakel, “Event-related Potential Indicators of the Dynamic Unconscious,” in Consciousness and Cognition, 1 (1992), pp. 340-366.

  13. 13

    See Hopkins’s “Introduction: philosophy and psychoanalysis” in Philosophical Essays on Freud, edited by Hopkins and Wollheim (Cambridge University Press, 1982); Davidson’s “Paradoxes of Irrationality” in the same volume; and Hopkins’s “Epistemology and Depth Psychology: Critical Notes on The Foundations of Psychoanalysis” in S. Clark and C. Wright editors, Psychoanalysis, Mind, and Science (Blackwell, 1988).

  14. 14

    Compare Gopnik on magic.

  15. 15

    Incidentally, the extended reach of the mind is also revealed in a completely different way—by the recent discovery that physiological processes ordinarily completely involuntary, like heartbeat and blood pressure, can be brought under conscious, voluntary control with the right kind of training.

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