WHAT, THEN, WOULD A SCIENCE OF PSYCHOANALYSIS LOOK LIKE?
Why would an analyst want one?
Because the sciences at large discover hard truths, separate them from subjectively-determined misbeliefs, move to certainties of knowledge and their applicability, and allow systematic researches into the identified unexplained.
And why would he want that?
So that he(she) can increasingly do what he enters the clinical situation to do, that is, provide the analysand with the tools required to free him(her)self from symptoms and help him use them, as far as current research and its basic and applied theories allow.
What would that analyst be like at the start of such a venture?
He would enter the clinical situation as a graduate, with many experiences that could help him towards his goal. There would be his schooling to date – the training analysis, the supervisory sessions with different people, the teachings by different lecturers, the conferences, the journals, paper presentations, etc. – during which the lack of a science would stand in relief and stir his curiosity.
During the training analysis, he might have noted interpretations rooted in this or that theory that did not fit the material he had provided, remember that he had been unable to tell his analyst so, and still be wondering why. During supervision, he would have observed very different theories at work and emphases on what to do in response to his analysands without reference to why. Teachers, conference presenters and the authors of journal articles would also have displayed a variety of theories without interest in the illogical phenomenon itself (i.e. different theories can explain same symptoms). Local presentations at “scientific” meetings that were not scientific would also linger as a puzzle. And meetings at all levels to debate theories would also stand out as a mystery.
How, then, would he begin his quest for a science that provided answers to his wonderings and more?
Having had the good fortune of learning about the principles and practices of the Scientific Method and having hands-on experience of the results, he would start with it, develop a research design suitable to his new field, and set about applying it to existing theories and unexplained symptoms.
He would start the project with a clear mind. Past and present existing theories would neither be accepted nor rejected, as no means for proving or disproving them had been possible. All would be of interest, tested for their logic and predictive capability, and Freud’s would be prominent on his list.
And he would carry all of such experiences, questions and a vitalized, curiosity as he entered the clinical situation with his sound but rudimentary knowledge of how, a genuine science of his new field could be created.