A Final Accounting

A Final Accounting

Philosophical and Empirical Issues in Freudian Psychology

By Edward Erwin

A Bradford Book





More than a century has passed since Sigmund Freud began his groundbreaking work in psychoanalysis yet there is no consensus about his legacy; instead there is persistent disagreement not only about Freud's reputation and place in history but about the proper standards to use in evaluating his theory and therapy.

This book develops epistemological standards for Freudian psychology and provides a comprehensive evaluation of, and possibly final, verdict on Freud's theory and therapy. Unlike any other evaluation published to date, it contains a systematic discussion of both the Freudian experimental and non-experimental evidence and the proper standards for interpreting the evidence.

Part I considers the view that Freud's theory should be judged by special evidential standards deemed appropriate for judging hypotheses of commonsense psychology. Edward Erwin argues against this view and for the employment of standards applicable to causal hypotheses of both the natural and social sciences. Erwin also addresses other issues about standards such as the need for experimental evidence, the use of placebo controls, the proper goals of psychotherapy, and the use of meta-analysis in analyzing outcome data.

The standards developed in part I of the book are used in part II in evaluating the best available Freudian evidence.

A Bradford Book


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262050500 338 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262528146 338 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • There is a substantial prior literature on the evidential demerits of Freud's theories and therapy. Yet Edward Erwin's book does advance the debate: It not only fills significant gaps in that literature but also successfully discredits some of the most recent Freudian apologias.

    Adolf Grunbaum

    Research Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh

  • Whether one agrees or disagrees with Professor Erwin's views on Freudian theory, the quality of his thinking and writing makes this book a stimulating pleasure to read. In any serious accounting of Freudian Psychology, final or otherwise, one will have to take account of this book.

    Morris Eagle

    Professor of Psychology, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychology Studies, Adelphi University

  • A Final Accounting provides a comprehensive and judicious assessment of psychoanalysis, both as theory and therapy. His discussion of the standards by which scientists adjudicate rival theories is along worth the price of the book. Erwin's grand overview leaves little doubt about the current status of psychoanalytic theory: Despite a century of assiduous efforts by its adherents, psychoanalysis has uteerly failed to demonstrate its most important claims.

    Frank J. Sulloway

    Author of Freud, Biologist of the Mind

  • Professor Erwin is a philosopher who has for many years been casting a coldly independent eye over the field of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. In this book he gives his verdict, in a series of closely argued and well-documented chapters. He comes as closely as humanly possible to a truly independent, objective and unbiased conclusion, and his book is a landmark in this on-going dispute about Freud's true contribution to a scientific understanding of the human psyche.

    H.J. Eysenck

    Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of London

  • Edward Erwin is the voice of reason itself. Cool, patient, and scrupulously fair, he weighs the strongest arguments and evidence favoring the claims of Freudian psychoanalysis. They amount to a handful of dust. And that result, Erwin shows, is unlikely to be altered by further studies. After Erwin, Freudianism stands in need not of more persuasive advocates but only of an epitaph.

    Frederick Crews

    principal author, The Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute