Newton's Fifth Rule and Q Methodology: Application to Psychoanalysis

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William Stephenson


A fundamental empirical basis is provided for psychoanalytic phenomena in terms of Q methodology and Newton's Fifth Rule. It is well known that the analytic concepts of id, ego, superego, unconscious, libido, etc. are classificatory only; genuine explanations have been provided along informational-theoretical lines, by cybernetic-epistemology and theoretical biology. There are constructs in the latter at a basic level, as "constraints," concerning "cognition," "induction," and "self-reference." These constructs are also fundamental in Q: there is a theory and pragmatics for cognition in the subjective domain ("consciring" and the theory of corrnnunicability replacing the categorical "consciousness"), also a theory for induction (Newton's Fifth Rule), also a theory for the self (quantumfactor theory). Thus, informational-theoretical and Q conjoin in asserting that at the fundamental level of abstraction, a patient in analysis is expressing "self-descriptions," and that new meanings (inductions) corne to the patient implicitly, by way of self-references. The close correspondence of the informational and Q theories warrants the conclusion that, at the basic level, Q must have priority as to method over psychoanalysis: the fundamental concern is with implicit functions of the mind (so-called), as natural effects, and not just psychoanalytic explications.

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Stephenson, W. (1982). Newton’s Fifth Rule and Q Methodology: Application to Psychoanalysis. Operant Subjectivity, 5(4). Retrieved from