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Spence, D.P. (2006). Closing The Gap: Commentary on Luyten, Blatt, and Corveleyn. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 54(2):619-625.
    

(2006). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 54(2):619-625

Closing The Gap: Commentary on Luyten, Blatt, and Corveleyn Related Papers

Donald P. Spence

In the standard Darwinian picture of how ideas compete in a developing field, it is usually assumed that the open market tends to reward the best procedure and the most efficient technique. Creative solutions scramble in what has been called the adaptive landscape and the most fitting survive to reach, by slow degrees, the evolutionary high ground-the peak of natural selection. The system works largely because each advance must compete with what has gone before and because nature rewards the fittest with longer life and the widest audience-the build-a-better-mousetrap principle. But in the analytic landscape, survival of the fittest ideas and techniques is buffered by the fallibility of memory and the heavy hand of the case study tradition. Following Freud's example, we are all tempted to tell stories about our patients and to capture the gist of an hour with a vignette or anecdote. Such paraphrases may do partial justice to the original happening, but in no sense can they be called data; as we have repeatedly discovered, they reveal little if anything that could be intensively studied or reexamined. What is more, tradition tends to control what is remembered. Lacking a truly observational language, clinical accounts tend to fall under the influence of received theory. Even if a verbatim extract is presented (a rare occurrence), the reader is left without the controlling context and as a result can easily misunderstand what was meant. We are all familiar with Freud's specimen dream, but we are still waiting for a specimen interpretation.

Heavy dependence on memory and the hovering influence of the case study tradition have left us with a clinical past peopled by many stories but almost no data.

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