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Introspection

INTROSPECTION

The etymology of the term introspection gives a clear indication of its meaning: the mental activity of a subject who is attentive to her/his own psychic processes (who looks inside ).

Late nineteenth-century psychologists (Alfred Binet in France, the Würzburg school in Germany, Edward Bradford Tiltchener in the United States, to name but a few) considered introspection to be the sovereign method until its throne was usurped by objectivism and behaviorism.

The word has had a bad press in psychoanalysis. However, psychoanalysis was born from just such an effort at self-observation, with Freud's self-analysis (Anzieu). Unlike introspection, however, which focuses only on conscious processes, that self-analysis opened the way for the "Freudian revolution" (Robert): Freud's discovery, below the conscious level, of wishes and the obstacles in their way, of the roundabout processes such wishes use to achieve fulfill-mentin a word, the unconscious.

Introspection should be clearly distinguished from the "capacity for insight," the patient's ability in the course of treatment to experience his or her own psychic dynamics in a new waya major feature of the psychoanalytic approach (Blacker).

Roger Perron

See also: Autobiography; Insight; Sartre and psychoanalysis; Self-consciousness.

Bibliography

Anzieu, Didier. (1986). Freud's self-analysis (Peter Graham, Trans.). London: Hogarth and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. (Original work published 1975)

Blacker, Kay Hill. (1981). Insight (panel). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 29, 659-672.

Robert, Marthe. (1964). La Révolution freudienne. Paris: Payot.

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introspection

in·tro·spec·tion / ˌintrəˈspekshən/ • n. the examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes: quiet introspection can be extremely valuable. DERIVATIVES: in·tro·spec·tive / -ˈspektiv/ adj. in·tro·spec·tive·ly / -ˈspektiv-lē/ adv. in·tro·spec·tive·ness / -ˈspektivnis/ n.

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introspection

introspection The process of looking into one's mind, to examine one's own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Data from introspection can be of some value in examining mental processes, but our introspection may not be accurate, and many mental processes are not accessible to conscious introspection. See also BEHAVIOURISM.

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introspection

introspection (intrŏ-spek-shŏn) n. the study by an individual of his own mental processes, reactions, etc.
introspective adj.

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introspection

introspection XVII.
Hence introspective XIX. Cf. INSPECTION and see INTRO-.

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introspection

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desertion, disconcertion, dispersion, diversion, emersion, excursion, exertion, extroversion, immersion, incursion, insertion, interspersion, introversion, Persian, perversion, submersion, subversion, tertian, version •excerption

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