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Ablon, S.J. (2004). Research: An Open Door Review of Outcome Studies in Psychoanalysis (second revised edition). Edited by Peter Fonagy. London: International Psychoanalytical Association, 2002, xv + 330 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 52(2):605-609.

(2004). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 52(2):605-609

Research: An Open Door Review of Outcome Studies in Psychoanalysis (second revised edition). Edited by Peter Fonagy. London: International Psychoanalytical Association, 2002, xv + 330 pp., $30.00.

Review by:
Stuart J. Ablon

The first thing one notices when picking up the second revised edition of An Open Door Review of Outcome Studies in Psychoanalysis is its weight. Upon reviewing the descriptions of more than eighty empirical studies, I am reminded of a frequent refrain that goes something like this: “There is no empirical research to support psychoanalysis.” This refrain is often reprised in discussions of why insurance companies will not support psychoanalytic treatment and why psychoanalysis has fallen out of favor in the public eye as compared to newer, briefer, manualized, so-called empirically validated treatments. Clearly, this volume stands testimony to the inaccuracy of such claims. While there remain far fewer empirical studies of the outcome of psychoanalysis than, say, of cognitive-behavioral therapy, a wealth of empirical data is available to support its effectiveness. The central question then becomes, Why is no one listening? One possible answer is the lack of a central, easily referenced source of information about systematic research efforts in psychoanalysis. Fortunately, the members of the Research Committee of the IPA, all international leaders in psychoanalytic research, have taken on this monumental task. The latest revision of the Open Door Review is an impressive compilation of descriptions of empirical studies from across the world. Its editor, Peter Fonagy, and the various contributors are to be commended for the work that they have done toward the common goal of using empirical research to validate the utility of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic ideas while also advancing analytic theory and technique.

The Open Door Review begins with reflections on the epistemological and methodological context of psychoanalytic research—a conversation that is at once an appropriate and yet odd preface to the compendium of descriptions of empirical studies to follow.

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