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Tasman, A. (1998). Beyond the Single Case Study. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(3):669-672.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(3):669-672

Beyond the Single Case Study

Allan Tasman

The articles by Allan Compton, Barbara Milrod, Stanley Blatt, and Nadine Kaslow and her colleagues that appear in this issue of JAPA clearly demonstrate that there is a rich potential in research in psychoanalysis, and that insights gained from such research can contribute much to our understanding of the etiology and treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Unfortunately, historical forces within psychoanalysis have played a role in limiting the contributions that the field of psychoanalysis can make to modern psychiatric treatments, and Compton clearly points out the limitations of the traditional focus on the single case study approach to research. This is not to dispute the tremendous advances in our psychological understanding that have resulted from such an approach, nor to criticize its use, but to acknowledge that the state of the art in psychiatric research has moved far beyond this approach, so critical to the establishment of modern psychoanalysis.

The articles by Compton and Milrod address the importance of further psychoanalytic research in our understanding of the role of psychological processes in anxiety disorders. Such an effort will have tremendous impact on future directions in caring for this group of patients. As many readers of this journal are aware, the approval last year by the American Psychiatric Association of practice guidelines for panic disorder was cause for great concern among psychoanalysts, and highlights the need for the kind of research that uses the modern techniques outlined in Compton's proposal.


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