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Title: Seeking the controversies : controversy, pluralism and knowledge in psychoanalysis
Author: Kuzuhara, Felipe Massao
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 7652
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis offers an alternative understanding of the Controversial Discussions and reframes its stalemate by centring on the question of internal demarcation in psychoanalysis. The Controversial Discussions took place in London during the Second World War, in the aftermath of Sigmund Freud’s death. It was an in-depth discussion concerning the validation, expansion, and status of psychoanalytic knowledge, wherein Melanie Klein’s formulations were measured in relation to Freud’s work, and challenged by a hostile audience captained by Freud’s daughter, Anna. These two most prominent psychoanalysts of their time arguably stood for tradition versus change, and never reconciled their views. This work investigates the similarities between the Controversial Discussions and scientific controversies, according to a sociology of associations and Actor Network Theory (ANT). In working systematically with defining aspects of scientific controversies, this thesis shows how it is possible to approach the dynamics of the Controversial Discussions using a knowledge production rationale. Investigating the criteria of internal demarcation, it is argued that the Controversies’ participants relied mainly on phylogenetic and ontogenetic criteria to the validation of Klein’s views. This is contextualised within the emergence of phylogenesis in psychoanalysis and is discussed according to its articulation in Freud’s work on the theory of the Oedipus complex. This thesis argues that Freud’s use of phylogenesis was a relevant aspect of knowledge production in psychoanalysis, since it is an important aspect for psychoanalytic truth to be produced as fact. Thus, this work considers the use of biology in the Controversial Discussions as a criterion of internal demarcation between accepted views in psychoanalysis and those to be regarded as outside the psychoanalytic realm. Drawing on this process of knowledge production, this thesis argues that psychoanalysts should think about their differences by considering their conflicting views, the need for coherence, and a sense of crisis that ignores the constitutive process of facts in psychoanalysis. Connecting phylogenesis with knowledge production and biology, this thesis offers new understandings of old problems where clashes among different schools of thought need no longer be entrenched, where psychoanalytic truth as fact may be revisited, and where the stalemate at the end of the Controversial Discussions can inform the question of psychoanalytic plurality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available