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Classical scientific methodology and the reflexivity of consciousness; a comparison

27 July 1990


The ongoing debate about psychology's status as a science involves questions about the nature of consciousness, and the proper methodology for studying it. A comparison of Freud and Jung's theories of dream interpretation is the
starting point for a discussion of contrasting methodologies. Philosophical traditions are explored that offer alternative views. An experimental-behaviorist paradigm is contrasted with a phenomenological-humanistic paradigm. The peculiar nature of consciousness, its reflexivity, highlights the need for a special methodology. Dialectical constructs are offered as contributing to a method that "best-fits" the subject matter. Comparisons are made between this alternative method and several sub-disciplines: developmental psychology, object relations, and classical psychoanalytic drive theory. These sub-disciplines are taken from the literature as ones that best exemplify the use of dialectical constructs. The dissertation ends with a comparison of the practical implications from each paradigm for the therapeutic role of empathy, a construct deemed essential to the therapeutic process by several authors.


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