On the Scientific Status of Psychoanalysis: Commentary on David Lotto’s Paper

  • Donald L. Carveth




In “On the Scientific Legitimacy of Psychoanalysis: The Controversy that Won’t Go Away,” David lotto (2017) provides a comprehensive review of the controversy between objectivist and hermeneutic-constructivist understandings of psychoanalysis and concludes they are ultimately incommensurable. In the following, I argue that hermeneutic-constructivist readings can generate hypotheses sometimes capable of being empirically tested. The argument that psychoanalysis cannot claim the status of objective science because its propositions are incapable of falsification (Popper, 1974) has itself been falsified: the theory of primary narcissism or undifferentiation at the beginning (a central tenet of Freudian theory long rejected by the Kleinians) has been falsified by empirical infant research (Stern, 1985). This demonstrates that psychoanalysis can at times meet Popper’s criterion and qualify as a science.