Psychoanalysis as functionalist social science: the legacy of Freud's 'Project for a scientific psychology'

The paper links Freud’s early work in the ‘Project for a scientific psychology’ with the psychoanalytic psychology of Kleinian object relations theory now current. Freud is often accused of introducing mechanism into his psychology and installing at its core an irreconcilable dichotomy of two disparate ways of explaining human behaviour. I suggest that Freud’s early mechanistic thinking is an attempt at what he only partly achieves, a functional account of the ‘mental apparatus’. I consider whether this way of conceptualising the mind in functional terms is methodologically relevant to psychoanalytic investigation or whether it is at best heuristically useful. From a brief consideration of Kleinian object relations theory, illustrated by case material, I conclude that there are grounds for accepting the first of these alternatives
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2006.06.012
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Sigmund Freud & A. A. Brill (1913). The Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10 (20):551-555.

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