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Pfeffer, A.Z. (1961). Research in Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 9:562-570.

(1961). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 9:562-570

Research in Psychoanalysis

Arnold Z. Pfeffer, M.D.

This panel concerned itself with the question of whether or not, and how, scientific progress in psychoanalysis may be facilitated through planned, systematic research.

As suggested by Robert Waelder, the panel pursued these questions with the assumption that basic analytic concepts are sufficiently and satisfactorily demonstrated by analysis itself. The focus of the panel was on those question that arise from analysis itself but in their investigation perhaps require research strategies and devices in addition to those of analysis itself.

These issues were discussed on the basis of specific examples of promising, ongoing research projects: a study of pregnancy; a study of twins; and a study of "giftedness." The discussion of these projects then led to more general theoretical considerations of research in psychoanalysis.

In a paper entitled "The Role of Designed Research in Psychoanalysis, " Grete L. Bibring raised the question of clinical evidence, that is, how objective is the basis on which the analyst formulates new theoretical ideas or new ways to look at well-known pieces of clinical theory; also in the communication of such new ideas to other analysts, how objective are the bases for their acceptance or rejection; and, finally, are there more suitable ways in which we can study more directly the psychoanalytic observations behind new hypotheses, applying methods which are designed differently from those ordinarily used by the analyst and coming closer to providing the opportunity to validate our clinical findings and test our assumptions?

Using as an example a particular hypothesis relating to the mother-infant relationship, Bibring suggested a specific research design with which to test this hypothesis.

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