Jumat, 16 Juli 2010

Psychoanalysis, research and science

By Jorge Bekerman
Translated by Andrea Banega

1. The requirement to shorten the interventions and turn them into ten- to twelve-minute-long presentations prompted me to adopt a sort of "minimal format" for this intervention: I chose to state ten one-minute-long proposals, articulated with one another. I prepared the presentation by summarizing the contents of each proposal and by focusing on what I cannot fail to say, rather than on what I would like to say. [1]

2. The issue of the relationship between psychoanalysis and research and science strikes a personal chord: I started my professional career by doing research in Neurobiology, between 1966 and 1975, and from then onwards I devoted myself to the clinical practice of psychoanalysis. "Strikes a personal chord" means that this intervention about psychoanalysis, research and science has –at least partially- a testimonial character.

3. This enables me to pose the following question: is it possible to talk, write or do research about psychoanalysis and leave the testimonial factor aside? In other words: can we talk, write or do research about psychoanalysis leaving aside our own experience of psychoanalysis? Because –at least in the field of psychoanalysis– there is a difference between reading and experience or, if we’d rather put it this way: between theory and practice. Corollary: there is an "anomaly" in psychoanalytic science, insofar as it is a science that is not built without regard to the testimonial factor (whether or not one acknowledges such testimonial factor), although it is certainly not circumscribed to the testimonial factor.

4. The experience may be the professional "experience" of an analyst, experience written here between inverted commas because there is a reason why Freud said that with each patient, the analyst must try to forget what he already knows and listen to each case as if it were the first. This is another example of the "anomaly" of psychoanalytic science, yet at the same time it is an epistemological stance whose originality and efficacy should be underscored time and time again, since no science is built on the methodological premise that that which is already known should be forgotten; rather, the contrary is the case.

5. When we talk about the experience of psychoanalysis we refer especially to each one’s experience as a patient. The most important methodological requirement for Freud regarding the formation of the analyst is that the analyst must undergo psychoanalytic treatment; following this line of reasoning we may add that when talking, writing or researching about psychoanalysis we cannot do without our experience as patients.

6. Thus, research in psychoanalysis is always "research under transference" (positive or negative); first of all, in relation to psychoanalysis itself. This is very hard to defend in the framework of science, insofar as scientific knowledge is built by taking as reference ideals of objectivity and accuracy that may be entirely passed on to the scientific community. Psychoanalytic science (should such a science exist) would be a paradoxical science –as well as a conjectural one.

7. Let me illustrate this point with a clinical vignette. For this purpose, we shall refer to the patient as "Claudia" and to her mother as "Nelly". Nelly, devastated by psychosis, was unable to raise Claudia by herself. But Nelly had two single, childless sisters who helped her as best as they could –not very well, in fact. Once, during the course of her free association, while Claudia was commenting on an argument between her aunts I heard her say: "My three aunts are always arguing." "Three aunts?", I asked, "What do you mean three aunts? Do you not have two aunts?" She remained completely silent for an instant and then declared: "Sure, since I did not have a mother!".

8. "I did not have a mother" is an inaccurate statement that articulates a subjective piece of truth crucial to this subject: "I am three times an orphan".

9. The issue of the truth of the testimonial factor is embedded in psychoanalytic research and science. Yet on the other hand, from the moment it was born, psychoanalysis has appropriated a commitment with the scientific rationale, with that reason which proves capable of getting to the edge of the abyss of what may be known. Unlike magic, which is based only on symbolic efficacy, and unlike religion, based on the promise of an eventual reward, psychoanalysis is based on the materiality of the signifier and its effects. In my case: to solve the alienating "science or psychoanalysis" option in order to work in psychoanalysis without giving up the scientific spirit.

10. As with any type of research, psychoanalytic research is not a one-person task, even though the names of Freud, Lacan, Melanie Klein, Winnicott and others may seem to indicate otherwise. Since it is not an individual task, it is an institutional task, which raises the question of what the requirements would be for an institutional structure to be consistent with the scientific "anomaly" inherent to psychoanalytic work. This might be reduced to the minimalist principle of creating and recreating spaces that include the testimonial factor with dignity, to turn it into the axis around which the research that is consistent with the scientific spirit of psychoanalysis revolves.

References and notes
1-The author presented this work at the International Congress on Research in Psychoanalysis and Social Science (Investigación en Psicoanálisis y Ciencias Sociales) held in Tucumán, Argentina, on October 6th and 7th, 2006. The original text in Spanish was published by Editorial Letra Viva, on April, 2007 (pp 74-75).

source: http://www.lacanian-psychoanalysis.com

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