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Schlesinger, H.J. (1974). Problems of Doing Research on the Therapeutic Process in Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:3-13.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:3-13

Problems of Doing Research on the Therapeutic Process in Psychoanalysis

Herbert J. Schlesinger, Ph.D.

PSYCHOANALYSIS HAS LONG HAD A TROUBLED, ambivalent attitude toward research. Although it proclaims itself a science, and indeed is able to point to discoveries as significant as those of any science, psychoanalysis generally has seemed to feel defensive in regard to its place among the sciences. Challenges about the general validity of its findings lead inevitably to complaints about the scientific limitations of the private, secluded situation in which its findings are obtained, a situation that admits of no outside observers and seems in essence nonreplicable. Psychoanalysis has usually had to resort to explanations about the special nature of the two-party analytic situation, the necessity for confidentiality, and the impossibility of understanding what goes on in it by anyone who has not experienced it himself. For an illustration of these points, see Engle (1968a), (1968b) as discussed by Beres (1968), Kanzer (1968), Wallerstein (1968), and Zetzel (1968).

Nevertheless, and particularly in recent years, the field has increasingly encouraged systematic research, such as the testing of propositions derived from psychoanalysis through the methods of the other sciences, including laboratory studies of dreams, the direct observations of normal, disturbed, and handicapped children, and the exploration of relationships between psychoanalysis and other sciences. It has even supported the training of some researchers based in other sciences in the method and theories of psychoanalysis.

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