Freud's 'tally' argument, placebo control treatments, and the evaluation of psychotherapy

Philosophy of Science 63 (4):605-621 (1996)
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Abstract

In this paper it is suggested that Freud's 'tally argument' (Grunbaum 1984) is not best interpreted as a risky claim concerning the efficacy of psychoanalytic therapy, but as a risky claim concerning the implications of theoretical psychoanalytic explanations of the efficacy of psychoanalytic therapy. Despite the fact that Freud never empirically established that these implications hold, the 'tally argument' does draw attention to a critical distinction that is too often neglected in contemporary empirical studies of psychoanalysis and other forms of psychotherapy: between empirical evaluations of the efficacy of psychotherapy and empirical evaluations of theoretical explanations of the efficacy of psychotherapy, and the different forms of comparative enquiry relevant to each. It is argued that the contemporary neglect of this critical distinction, in conjunction with the common negative conception of placebo control treatments in psychotherapy research, has led to the epistemic impoverishment of experimental studies of the various professional psychotherapies. In consequence, although there is good empirical evidence for the efficacy of psychoanalysis and other forms of professional psychotherapy, there is no good empirical evidence for theoretical psychoanalytic explanations of the efficacy of psychoanalysis, or for traditional theoretical explanations of the efficacy of other forms of professional psychotherapy

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John Greenwood
CUNY Graduate Center

References found in this work

Conjectures and Refutations.K. Popper - 1963 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 21 (3):431-434.
Theory and Evidence.Clark Glymour - 1980 - Ethics 93 (3):613-615.
Novel evidence and severe tests.Deborah G. Mayo - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (4):523-552.

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