What do analysts know?

Aner Govrin

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Fascinated and troubled communities within psychoanalysis Aner Govrin, Ph.D. From his very first days as a theoretician, Freud presented to the world the then emerging discipline of psychoanalysis as a science. Subsequently its opponents did their utmost to explain why psychoanalysis didn't meet the criteria of a scientific field of enquiry. It was labeled a ‘narrative', a ‘mythology', a drug of the masses'. Despite this, and in the absence of significant empirical findings to support most of its leading theories, psychoanalysis demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of criticism, alongside significant resurgence over the course of the last years. The key question which this lecture attempts to answer is: What are the mechanisms of sociology within the psychoanalytic community which have enabled it to withstand the censure and hostility leveled at it and to nonetheless flourish as an intellectual and pragmatic endeavor? My main thesis is that the vitality and robustness of psychoanalytic theory has been maintained by, on the one hand, loyalty to the theory and, on the other hand, by criticism and doubt, a combination reinforced by positive mutual, albeit tense, interaction. I shall argue that throughout its history, psychoanalysis has successfully embraced an amalgam of what I have chosen to term fascinated and troubled communities. A fascinated community is a group who adopts a psychoanalytic theory (such as Bion's, Klein's, Winnicott's, or the like) as representing their worldview. A troubled community is one that is not satisfied with the state of psychoanalytic knowledge and seeks to generate a fundamental change that does not square with existing traditions. I will present three kinds of troubled communities that are active in the psychoanalytic world: new psychoanalytic schools, scientifically troubled communities, and philosophically-culturally troubled communities. It is this amalgam which, over many years, has enabled psychoanalysis to endure the criticism it kept on sustaining from the rancor of a hostile academic world. This, more than any other factor, has been responsible for psychoanalysis's rich and varied development and for its ability to attract therapists to its ranks at different periods of time. Aner Govrin, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, and the director of academic doctoral program "Psychoanalysis and Hermeneutics" for mental health workers at The Department of Hermeneutics and Culture at Bar Ilan University. Dr. Govrin is in private practice of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis in Tel Aviv. He is a member of the Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis (TAICP). His book Conservative and Radical Perspectives on Psychoanalytic knowledge - The fascinated and the disenchanted was published by Routledge at 2015.
Original languageAmerican English
Media of outputDepartmental Seminar/Colloquium
Place of PublicationNo matches for: , University of Essex, UK; What do analysts know? Invited lecture, Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies Department
StatePublished - 2018


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