On the Scientific Status of Psychoanalysis

Date: 2021-10-10T04:01:33+00:00

Location: cosmonautmag.com

Does psychoanalysis have a scientific value beyond being a hermeneutical framework for literary studies? Dillon Reitmeyer argues yes, and that Marxists have much to learn from it. 

I was inspired to put an article together on the scientific status of psychoanalysis after Daniel Tutt came on Cosmonaut and provided some exegesis on psychoanalysis and its relationship to Marxism. I highly recommend giving it a listen to see why socialists found psychoanalysis so useful. Indeed, anyone mired in Marxist theory has run into approaches to Marxism that aim to “unify” or “reconcile” Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Some call it “Freudo-Marxism”, others who wish to distance themselves from Freud might call it “Psychoanalytic-Marxism”.1 I aim to argue here that psychoanalysis is a robust science that offers a relatively noncontroversial and useful theory of the human mind. For that reason, I think those interested in scientific socialism ought to be at least familiar with some of the core tenets of psychoanalysis and can decide for themselves if they find the theory attractive.

Those familiar with contemporary psychology understand that psychoanalysis is the black sheep of the field. Pick your favorite academic psychology department; most are sure “Sigmund Freud has been discredited”. Naturally, no one can cite an experiment that accomplished this “debunking of Freud”—that’s, of course, because no such experiment has ever been conducted. Nor can anyone articulate a complaint beyond “it’s not science”. What I aim to argue is that if psychoanalysis is not a science, the rest of psychology falls with it. Objections to psychoanalysis have rested mainly on either moralistic disgust with Freud himself or charges that psychoanalysis does not fit neatly into a framework of positivist science. The latter argument is the only one worth dealing with at length, but I’ll mention some problems with the former way objection as well. I also aim to argue that those interested in psychoanalysis need not retreat into hermeneutic literary interpretations of psychoanalysis in order to “save it”. Lastly, I’ll lay out some core theoretical postulates of psychoanalysis and the evidence base it rests on. 

One common objection to psychoanalysis was that Freud’s theory of the Oedipus Complex was phallo(logo)centric, Eurocentric, and androcentric.2 A detailed treatment of each of these problems, whatever their merits, is beyond the scope of what I aim to talk about here, but one thing is worth bearing in mind. For the sake of argument, suppose these charges are all true. The Oedipus complex, and the postulation of castration anxiety and penis-envy, while very important parts of Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, is not a fundamental tenet of psychoanalysis. If one wants to focus on the core of psychoanalysis it is better to center one’s attention on the theory of repression. These accusations are irrelevant if one is interested in whether the dynamic unconscious exists or if repression occurs.3 The existence of the dynamic unconscious and the theory of repression are the “meat” of psychoanalytic theory.

Depending on where your philosophical allegiances lie, Karl Popper might be a friend or an enemy to whatever version of philosophy of science you accept. Falsificationist approaches to science imply that psychoanalysis makes untestable and unfalsifiable claims! Popper made the very same claims about Marxist social theory as well. There are two issues with this approach. One, if falsificationism is true, then all social sciences, and even some natural sciences, are pseudo-scientific. This is an unacceptable conclusion since much of social science is clearly science. Lots of cutting-edge physics whose models do not lend themselves to controlled experimental testing would also lose their status as science. That is also an absurd conclusion. Newtonian mechanics, for example, would never have been accepted as a theory if we use Popper’s standards of theory corroboration and falsifiability. The theory offered better ways of explaining phenomenon that previous theories were already decent at predicting reliably. The process of legitimizing Newtonian physics had nothing to do with testability.4 A good theory of science does not rule out obvious cases of scientific rigor.5 

The second issue is that falsificationism is obviously a bad theory of science. It’s a bad solution to what is known as the “demarcation problem” of distinguishing science from pseudo-science on the basis of the application of a strict scientific method. The issue is that no such method exists, and most strides in science have blatantly flouted most of the rules typically associated with the “Baconian” scientific method (and we’re better off for it). Science gets along anyway, however. Why does science not collapse in the absence of a predefined method? 

Much conventional wisdom on what makes an entity amenable to scientific observation is that the phenomena are “observable” or pass some kind of empiricist “impressions-test”. This is obviously an unattainable standard and would rule out most science, so a whole class of “unobservable” entities are labeled “latent variables”—much like the “latent content” as opposed to “manifest content” of dreams in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Latent variables could include your favorite theoretical constructs like motivation, ennui, melancholia, late-capitalism, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, Kondratiev waves in economics, the strong and weak forces in physics, or the feeling of regret and anguish you have after finishing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at 2 AM. No one of these things are “directly” observed. They are inferred from data because they have the properties of best explaining covariances among variables and enable us to make reliable predictions. The second we lower our standards for what counts as science and what counts as an experimental design psychoanalysis seems to have less trouble creating testable hypotheses.

Consider the Behaviorism of B.F. Skinner for a moment. For behaviorists, their list of entities is relatively small. There is publicly observable behavior, the environment, and the statistical relationships obtained between them. Sounds rigorous, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is. But behavior is not an empirical “given”. The behaviors we perceive arrive to us in need of interpretation. There are infinitely many ways of defining behavior. Suppose we observe someone “playing a violin”, and remember, we are not allowed to refer to any internal “mental” concepts in a Behaviorist story. What is to tell us what that person is “doing”? Are they merely “making noise” or are they “making music”? Are they improvising? Who are they playing “for”? We can’t appeal to “verbal behavior” in the form of sentences that “explain” what someone is doing either. Verbal behavior cannot be evidence for an unobservable entity called a “mind” where “intentions” rest in this theory. Loads of problems like these and other empirical issues eventually resulted in the acceptance of cognitive psychology which is basically just behaviorism plus a bunch of “latent” constructs like “motivation”, “beliefs”, and “self-concept”. But the whole impetus for abandoning psychoanalysis was that their entities were latent and not amenable to observation! 

All this sounds like a huge hassle. Operationalizing concepts and mental processes such as “repression”, “reaction-formation”, “projection”, and more sounds like a hopeless undertaking. Even fans of Freudian psychoanalysis thought the most that could be said for psychoanalysis was that it would at most amount to a philosophical, hermeneutic approach to the mind. Jurgen Habermas (1967) and Paul Ricoeur (1965) both argued that Freud’s “narrow empiricism” held him back and that psychoanalysis would benefit from renouncing its claims to being an empirically based science. Many have taken this approach to Marxist social theory as well because they believe Marxism does not generate testable hypotheses. But anyone who is aware of the vast literature of empirical social science which is informed by Marxism knows this is false. Does it hold itself to the same empirical standards as quantum field theory? No, that would be absurd. I believe we should draw the same conclusion about psychoanalysis as well. 

Before I mentioned that there is no ahistorical, transcendental concept of a “scientific method” that is common to all sciences. If one considers the histories of different scientific disciplines we see a variety of methodologies. Physics operates in a much different fashion than molecular biology. Climate science differs from chemistry. To paraphrase another critic of psychoanalysis, philosopher of science Ernest Nagel (1959), it would be absurd to apply “the yardstick of experimental physics and the precision of mathematics to psychoanalysis”. We need to evaluate psychoanalysis on its own terms rather than apply standards for science that are not appropriate for it. Again, we don’t take molecular biologists to task for not operating in the same way as particle physicists, and nor should we—molecular biologists are obviously engaging in science and have developed their own standards of rigor. 

Just what are the core claims of psychoanalysis though, in plain English? Following Mark Solms (2018), the core features of psychoanalysis can be succinctly stated in the following ways. The human being is born with innate needs—we are not “tabula rasa” as John Locke would call it. These needs are “felt” and are expressed as “emotions”. Freud said the instincts are the “body’s demands upon the mind for work”. If you are hungry, your body must represent that fact to you. Hunger induced nausea or the growling of the stomach is not enough of a signal. There is also an accompanying mental representation of food and a plan which explains how to get it. This is one of the interactions between the ego and the “id” or the “unconscious”. You don’t decide when your mind tells you that you want Chinese food or pizza. 

There is no agreement on the amount of innate needs out there, nor should we expect that debate to be resolved anytime soon. No science boasts that it has an uncontroversial set of needs. Freud himself was an ardent materialist and huge fan of Charles Darwin. He thought we had innate needs to feed ourselves and to find sexual partners to propagate the species (“foraging, seeking, ‘wanting’”, and lust). He also thought we seek to destroy objects which threaten our existence or threaten our abilities to satisfy our needs or wants—this is felt as “rage”. These instincts and drives eventually evolved in Freud’s work to be called the life drive and death drives. The life drive, rooted in what Freud called “the libido” or sexual energy, refers to the tendency of humans to “bring things into union”. The death drive refers to the tendency for humans to move towards states of rest and to “deconstruct or destroy objects”. This is the essence of Freud’s dual-drive theory. It is not uncontroversial, and many of those rooted in psychoanalysis do not subscribe to the theory. 

We also attach ourselves to caregivers.6 Why? Human beings are surprisingly helpless after birth, and for long periods of time. We need tremendous amounts of supervision and care to survive. Infants react to separation, then, with panic, and the loss of caregivers is felt as despair. Our need to care for, or nurture, our offspring is speculated to be an evolutionary complement to the fact that children need care. Lastly, we need to play. Believe it or not, “play” in psychoanalytic terms is the medium through which social groups and hierarchies are formed. The main task of psychosexual development is to learn how to meet our needs. We do not learn for no reason; “ego-development” is the development of actionable plans that help us master our environments and predict incoming danger. 

Pretty much all of our “plans” are executed unconsciously. Consciousness of what we are thinking is a rare exception to the rule. The key issue in psychoanalysis is that most, if not all, of the plans that become automatic for us in childhood are not optimal solutions to our issues. We learn to fend for ourselves, love, hate, and think through our interactions with primary caregivers. The rules we learn are automated and we generalize those rules across relationships. This is known as “transference”—the classic example of the Freudian slip of calling one’s teacher “Mom” comes to mind. The unconscious is “dynamic” because the mind actively resists changing the rules we automate. This is the theory of repression. The mind will actively fight against bringing an unconscious, unacceptable thought to consciousness regardless of what you consciously want or think. As a result, we might repeat the same bad ways of solving problems for a long time in a vain attempt at mastering an issue—this is what Freud called “the compulsion to repeat”. 

People endow objects outside of themselves with “value” or “care”. In psychoanalytic terms, objects are “cathected” with sexual, emotional energy or “libido”. The movement of emotional energy from one object to another is part of the emotional life of an individual. This process is called “object choice”. Object choice plays a major role in explaining how an individual attaches to caregivers across the lifespan.

Psychoanalysis takes a developmental approach to the emergence of the individual and the mind. One is not born with a fully functioning “ego”. An infant is not just a “little adult”. An infant is born with an “id”, and nothing else. It has a tangled mass of needs and desires and does not consider what is logical or realistic. The “id” does not obey what Freud called “the reality principle”. It obeys what he called “the pleasure principle”. It wants pleasure and stimulation now and as much of it as it can get. Eventually, one comes to understand that one cannot do whatever one wants, and there are limits on how much pleasure we can demand of, and take from, others. The onset of the reality principle coincides with the development of the “ego” which is responsible for “reality-testing” and other “ego-functions”—eventually the child needs to learn things like its own address, where the bathroom is, who it can ask for help, and what day it is.

 A child, then, becomes an adult through the mastery of developmental stages. Its behavior is determined by a different logic than an adult’s behavior. In the beginning, the oral phase, the child is still beginning to distinguish itself from the environment. It grows attached to that which feeds it and sustains its existence and slowly becomes to realize its dependence on others. Its primary sites of pleasurable activity surround the mouth. Sites of pleasurable activity in psychoanalysis are referred to as “erogenous zones”. The anal stage refers to the stage when the child has become aware enough to distinguish between itself and its environment, its mother, and other caregivers. The primary erogenous zone in question here is the anus and muscle systems surrounding it. One of the first moments of socialization for a child is the expectation that it “control” its bowels and treat feces and urine as “waste” that must be disposed of in private. This does not come “naturally” to a child. It must be taught. 

The phallic stage is the stage where the child’s genitalia becomes the primary erogenous zone and is associated with the onset of the Oedipus complex. It is called “phallic” because in people with vaginas the clitoris has been observed as being treated as a penis. The child is now familiar with rules and it is aware not only it is dependent on others for survival but that caregivers can withdraw their love if rules are not abided by. Enter the “incest taboo”. For all of the child’s life the mother and father or any caregiver who serves the maternal and paternal functions, has provided pleasurable stimulation of erogenous zones. The mother previously fed the child and cleaned the child after defecation and urination. This will happen no longer. The child must learn to get along without such stimulation. What is more, the child must grow to accept that the love of others has conditions. “Mom” is not only a subject of her own, but has her own set of desires which are directed towards objects other than the infant! What a thing for a toddler to consider. The onset of the Oedipus complex is just this. The mother (and father in some analytic circles) must now be treated as an object that is off-limits for satisfying sexual desire. Castration anxiety refers to the anxiety felt by the child as a result of the “threat” of punishment of violating this incest taboo. Penis-envy is said to be a result of envying those with penises and the perceived “power” it grants them.7

The latency stage refers to the period after the phallic stage but before puberty. The child, if all is going well, has learned to channel its previously unacceptable desires into other activities (school, sports, games, childhood friendships, etc.). The last stage is the genital stage, associated with the onset of puberty and the “resolution” of the Oedipus complex. The child successfully reawakens their sexual impulses and is able to choose objects of desire which do not violate the incest taboo. If the child masters the acceptance of the appropriate rules, the child can be said to have developed what is known as a “super-ego” or what Freud called “the heir to the Oedipus complex”. Now, the child no longer needs the threat of external punishment to follow rules. It has developed a conscience and can impose its own rules on itself. Taken together the id, the ego, and super-ego constitute what Freud called the “structural” model of the mind.

These are Freud’s developmental stages, and many psychoanalysts take issue with one or more of these stages and his descriptions of them. The core takeaway is that we need a framework that explains the development of the infant’s psychology over time. It does not need to be this one.8 I’ve painted in very broad strokes here, so I encourage you to seek out which psychoanalytic developmental theories you find most plausible. The literature on it is vast. 

Just how do psychoanalysts find out about how the mind works then? I’ve said a whole lot about what standards psychoanalysis doesn’t have to meet, but very little about the standards they do need to meet. Psychoanalysts have standards for what they call “case studies”. Case studies are employed as ways of collecting data in a wide variety of sciences, not just psychology. It is often used in sociology, political science, anthropology, and medicine.9 Case study methodology has come a long way since Freud’s day. Indeed, there are now rigorous standards for data collection in psychoanalysis that conceptually carve up different ways of listening to patients.10 Data that is collected from patients over time is then interpreted using psychoanalytic frameworks of analysis. The site of data collection could be “the couch”, but it need not be. Differing interpretations of data are run up against one another and judged on how well they explain data and cohere with the rest of psychoanalytic theory. After enough case studies are compared across contexts and populations, one can begin thinking about how far the interpretations of data can be generalized and implications for analytic technique can be reported. This process is not free from error or miscalculation, and transparency about the limitations of the methods used to collect data is important, but no science can claim to be free from this.

What is the point of psychoanalytic intervention, then? Helping individuals learn how to get their needs met in more effective ways. This is why psychoanalysis is usually opposed to pharmacological approaches which aim at the mere suppression of symptoms without accompanying therapy. Drugs treat symptoms, not that which is causing the symptoms. The idea that drugs treat disorders is a recent fiction peddled by the pharmaceutical industry (the 1980 change from the DSM-II to the DSM-III which got rid of “theoretical” approaches to defining mental disorders in favor of lists of symptoms). What one can say in favor of pharmaceutical interventions is that they often put someone in a place where they can begin to benefit from talk therapy.

Lastly, there are mountains of solid research and meta-analyses on the efficacy of psychoanalytic therapy. Steinert et al. (2017) have pretty much settled the question on whether psychoanalysis is better or worse than other approaches. The therapeutic techniques that predict the best clinical outcomes are outlined by Blagys and Hilsenroth (2000). They include unstructured, open-ended dialogue, identifying recurring themes and patterns in the patient’s life, linking their current experience to past experience, drawing attention to thoughts and feelings which “feel” unacceptable, pointing out how we “avoid” these feelings, focusing on the therapeutic relationship in the “here-and-now” and relating that to the past, drawing connections between the therapeutic relationship and other relationships the patient has. Lastly, and this is a bit of a dig at other modalities, Norcross (2005) noted that psychotherapists, regardless of their theoretical orientation, seek out psychoanalytic therapy for themselves instead of other approaches. 

If a lot of these things seem perfectly conventional that’s because they are. They are part of the fabric of common-sense psychology in the popular imagination and most contemporary psychology would be undoable without accepting some amount of psychoanalytic theory. While I find his work extremely important, you do not need to treat Freud’s words as gospel to see the truth in psychoanalysis. There’s a whole host of literature that aims to ground most psychoanalytic insights in neuroscience as well. Even those who study primates have found behavior in baboons that veer eerily close to Freud’s story of the “primal horde” (Sapolsky, 2004). This does not mean that psychoanalysis is not beset with anomalies and problems. It is ripe with them. But so is every other existing science. That cannot be a case against calling psychoanalysis a science, and it makes no sense to call it a theory that has no evidence in favor of it. What is clear is that psychoanalysis has what philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn referred to as “normal science”, a process where analysts produce cast studies and other forms of empirical research. It also has what Imre Lakatos referred to as a “research program” with a core set of assumptions with a “protective belt” of auxiliary claims which are usually the site of scientific and theoretical contestation. 

I don’t expect this to convince everyone. Perhaps some will leave with an even worse taste in their mouth than before. That is fine. What I aimed to accomplish here is the clarification of the core claims of psychoanalysis for those who might be interested, for whatever reason that may be. Psychoanalysis is also beset with a mixed history. I hope to be writing for a broadly left-wing audience. It is no secret that psychoanalysis, especially in the U.S. and France, has a reactionary and conservative history. Detailed treatments of this history are beyond what I can offer here, but what I would like readers to leave with is the idea that reactionary interpretations of Freud and his followers can be combatted by utilizing psychoanalysis itself.11 Indeed, psychoanalysts have revised their previously erroneous positions on homosexuality, transgender psychology, and even autism spectrum disorder.12

I personally think psychoanalytic thinking has tremendous value, and a good theory of the mind is useful for anyone who wants to think about how people develop things such as “false consciousness”. I think it is useful for explaining why people identify with their aggressors or resist political and economic subjugation. It can help explain why a wealthy man like Friedrich Engels could think and act against his own political and economic interests. I don’t think other psychological theories provide good frameworks for analyzing these issues, and very often it won’t do to give macroeconomic descriptions of such highly individualistic processes. Sometimes we are concerned with individuals and how they work. I hope this is a helpful primer for thinking critically about psychoanalysis, and hopefully, it will help people jump into literature much more complex than what is laid out here.

Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment.

Akhtar, S. (2018 [2013]). Psychoanalytic listening: Methods, limits, and innovations. Routledge.

Blagys, M. D., & Hilsenroth, M. J. (2000). Distinctive features of short‐term psychodynamic‐interpersonal psychotherapy: A review of the comparative psychotherapy process literature. Clinical psychology: Science and practice7(2), 167-188.

Bowlby, J. (2008 [1980]). Attachment. Basic books.

Chasseguet-Smirgel, J., Grunberger, B., & Pajaczkowska, C. T. (1986). Freud or Reich? Psychoanalysis and illusion. Yale University Press.

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (2004 [1972]). Anti-oedipus. A&C Black.

Erikson, E. H. (1998 [1959]). The life cycle completed (extended version). WW Norton & Company.

Gherovici, P. (2017). Transgender psychoanalysis: A Lacanian perspective on sexual difference. Routledge.

Grunbaum, A. (1985). The foundations of psychoanalysis. University of California Press.

Habermas, J. (2015 [1967]). On the logic of the social sciences. John Wiley & Sons.

Hacking, I (1983). Representing and intervening: Introductory topics in the philosophy of natural science. Cambridge university press.

Hook, S. (2020 [1959]). Psychoanalysis, scientific method and philosophy. Routledge.

Horney, K. (1973). The flight from womanhood: The masculinity complex in women as viewed by men and women. Psychoanalysis and Women, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 7.

Irigaray, L. (1985). This sex which is not one. Cornell university press.

Jacoby, R. (2018 [1975]). Social amnesia: A critique of contemporary psychology. Routledge.

Klein, M. (2002 [1975]). Love, guilt and reparation: and other works 1921-1945 (Vol. 1). Simon and Schuster.

Lasch, C. (1995 [1977]). Haven in a heartless world: The family besieged. WW Norton & Company.

Longhofer, J., Floersch, J., & Hartmann, E. (2017). A Case for the Case Study: How and Why They Matter. Clinical Social Work Journal45(3), 189–200.

Malinowski, B. (2003 [1927]). Sex and repression in savage society. Routledge.

Marcuse, H. (1966). Eros and civilization (1955). Boston: Beacon.

Mead, M., Sieben, A., & Straub, J. (1973). Coming of age in Samoa. New York: Penguin.

Norcross, J. C. (2005). The psychotherapist’s own psychotherapy: educating and developing psychologists. American Psychologist60(8), 840.

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods : integrating theory and practice (Fourth edition.). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Putnam, H. (1974). “The ‘corroboration’ of Theories.” In The Philosophy of Karl Popper, edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp, 221–40. La Salle, Ill: Open Court.

Reich, W. (1970 [1946]). The mass psychology of fascism. Macmillan.

Ricoeur, P. (2008 [1965]). Freud and philosophy: An essay on interpretation. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe.

Sapolsky, R. M., & Share, L. J. (2004). A pacific culture among wild baboons: its emergence and transmission. PLoS biology2(4), e106.

Singletary, W. M. (2015). An integrative model of autism spectrum disorder: ASD as a neurobiological disorder of experienced environmental deprivation, early life stress and allostatic overload. Neuropsychoanalysis17(2), 81-119.

Solms, M. (2018). The scientific standing of psychoanalysis. BJPsych International15(1), 5-8.

Steinert, C., Munder, T., Rabung, S., Hoyer, J., & Leichsenring, F. (2017). Psychodynamic therapy: as efficacious as other empirically supported treatments? A meta-analysis testing equivalence of outcomes. American Journal of Psychiatry174(10), 943-953.

Wolfenstein, E. V. (1993). Psychoanalytic-Marxism: Groundwork. Guilford Press.

Liked it? Take a second to support Cosmonaut on Patreon! At Cosmonaut Magazine we strive to create a culture of open debate and discussion. Please write to us at CosmonautMagazine@gmail.com if you have any criticism or commentary you would like to have published in our letters section.

  1. Anyone who interested in this subject should see Reich (1946) and Wolfenstein (1993).
  2. There is a whole host of literature which tries to root Freudian insights in culture rather than biology that is outside the scope of this piece. For those interested see Karen Horney (1973), Margaret Mead (1973), Malinowski and (1927). While a neo-Freudian revisionist in some ways, a well-known defender of Freud’s materialism is often not seen as such—see Herbert Marcuse (1955). For those interested in rebuttals to cultural interpretations of psychoanalysis see Lasch (1977) and Jacoby (1975).
  3. Another common objection to the truth of psychoanalysis is that Freud was “projecting his own issues with his mother on everyone else”. It’s an interesting accusation. In order for a psychic process such as “projection” to occur, psychoanalysis needs to be a true theory of how the mind works! After all, it’s the only theory that explains how projection happens.
  4. For more on this subject see Hilary Putnam (1974) and Ian Hacking (1983).
  5. For a more detailed discussion of psychoanalysis as a science that generates testable hypotheses see Grunbaum (1985). He is a ruthless critic of Freud and the theory of repression, but supports the claim that psychoanalysis is a science.
  6. One of the co-founders of attachment theory, John Bowlby, referenced Freud as the “first attachment theorist”. All of the language of attachment one hears in contemporary mental literature owes many conceptual debts to psychoanalysis. It departs from traditional psychoanalysis by denying that children are inherently sexual beings and that our primary motivations for attachment have nothing to do with sexuality. For more see Bowlby (1980) and Ainsworth et al. (1978).
  7. Freud’s reflections on castration anxiety and penis-envy, and masculinity and femininity, are not constitutive of the core claims of psychoanalytic psychology, but they are worth investigating. See Horney (1973), Irigaray (1985) and Lasch (1977).
  8. Revisionist theories include those of Erik Erikson (1959) and Melanie Klein (1975 [1921-1945]).
  9. Cases study technique varies across disciplines and theoretical orientations, but a recent defense of the “case study” can be found in Longhofer et al. (2017). The most widely used “textbook” on qualitative research methodology is Patton (2015).
  10. A whole description of case study technique would be beyond the scope of this paper. But for those who are interested, see Salman Akhtar (2013). He proposes four models of listening derived from Freud’s many papers on analytic technique (i) objective listening, (ii) subjective listening, (iii) empathic listening, and (iv) intersubjective listening.
  11. Those interested in conservative psychoanalysis in France and responses to it can see Chasseguet-Smirgel et al. (1986). One of the classic reactionary applications of Freudian theory is the suggestion that any resistance to the status-quo or the State is an expression of unresolved Oedipal conflicts against the father. Deleuze and Guattari (1972) and Jacques Lacan in scattered writings are her primary interlocutors and take her to task for this interpretation.
  12. I highly recommend the following on each issue. For the history of homosexuality and transgender psychoanalysis see Gherovici (2017) and for contemporary psychoanalytic interpretations of autism spectrum disorder informed by neuroscience see Singletary (2015). It is worth noting that many of Freud’s followers actually found Freud’s views on homosexuality to be too progressive. Freud himself was against pathologizing and criminalizing homosexuality.