Search the site

Psychoanalytic foundations of Clinical Psychology

Volume chapter author (s): Imbasciati A.

Great misunderstanding exists when trying to comprehend what is meant by Clinical Psychology and its connections with Psychoanalysis. Just as vast is the misunderstanding of psychoanalysis itself: people talk about drive, Oedipus, libido, super ego and repression as if these were Freud’s “discoveries”. In fact, they are not discoveries at all, but concepts by which Freud tried to construct a theory –his metapsychology– using the means available at the time to explain what his ingenious method of exploration had found out and described in the clinical field. There is great confusion about what is meant by “discovery”, or rather by “theory” or “method”, just as there is confusion about the description of a phenomena and its explanation. Discoveries remain, theories change and methods develop. In this way every science makes progress. Having progressed, psychoanalysis no longer needs Freud’s theoretical “explanations”, despite the fact that his theory was and still is considered as a discovery and is worshipped like an unchageable doctrine in the name of the Master.
The most remarkable discoveries after Freud concern the continuous construction of the psychic structure, starting with the fetus, which takes place with learning experiences modulated by the unconscious emotional relationships. This concept fits with what we know today about neurological maturation.
Many of Freud’s clinical-descriptive concepts are still useful, but in the meanwhile many others have been coined to describe what happens in the mind. However, a psychophysiological theory is necessary to explain this, a theory which is different from that of Freud’s and compatible with modern neuroscience. In this book a new theory is formulated: the Theory of the Protomental –the basis for a new Metapsychology developed by the author in his studies. Today the unconscious does not need explanations, except for those who still believe that the mind should be conscious. Current research studies are concerned with psychic processes that develop the extremely variable and individual capacity of knowing something about out own mental activity: the so-called consciousness.
This book criticizes the still unconditional use of Freud’s theory today, values the psychoanalytic method in its development and proposes a new explanatory key to psychic processes, integrating the psychoanalytical post-Freudian contributions with those from cognitive sciences, experimental psychology and neuroscience. In this integration a definition of Clinical Psychology as an official discipline, in it’s multiple origins, offshoots, and developments, is prospected.