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Kwawer, J.S. (1998). Back to the Future: Has Anything Changed in One Hundred Years?. Contemp. Psychoanal., 34(4):563-564.

(1998). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 34(4):563-564

Back to the Future: Has Anything Changed in One Hundred Years?

Jay S. Kwawer, Ph.D.

Nearly one hundred years since psychoanalysis evolved as a treatment method, its practitioners and theorists have developed along diverse paths. In the same time period, significant historical and cultural shifts have brought about changes in the target populations identified as patients. At the present time, clinical practitioners in the various mental health disciplines are struggling with economic and political realities that prompt a reconsideration of therapeutic strategies.

Against this backdrop, some have suggested that it is time for psychoanalysis to reinvent itself, that our treatment methods need major modification, that old theories finally need to be put to rest, and that any remaining vitality in our field needs to be directed toward novel approaches.

Does the century's accumulated clinical wisdom have anything to teach us about practice in the present and the future? Have patients—their complaints, their symptoms, and their problems—become so significantly different over the years that traditional psychoanalytic approaches are no longer relevant? Have our psychoanalytic methods become irrelevant, outdated, too costly, too labor-intensive for contemporary society? Do we need to break decisively from our historical roots in order to remain alive as a field? Is there anything new to be learned? Have we learned anything at all in the past one hundred years?

This symposium brings together four clinicians who work from diverse perspectives, all having been trained in the interpersonal psychoanalytic tradition.

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