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Bacon, R. (2000). Theory and therapeutics: stress in the analytic identity. Free Associations, 8(2):1-20.

(2000). Free Associations, 8(2):1-20

Theory and therapeutics: stress in the analytic identity

Roger Bacon


To Set The Scene

In the United Kingdom, the two last decades have seen something of a crisis and revolution in the social standing and structure of psychoanalysis. Schematically, the elements of this crisis can be divided into two.

First, psychoanalysis has experienced fierce pressure on its authority and hegemony in the field of therapy from the explosive growth in counselling trainings and practices, alternative therapies and the renewed self-confidence of the cognitive and behavioural therapies. The therapeutic marketplace has been flung wide open and filled with a clamour of different voices of which the psychoanalytic is only one, sometimes rather small, dialect.

At the same time, the therapeutic field has become increasingly infected with the ideology of “the market” and the pressure of market forces. This has brought with it demands for value-for-money, measurable results, open competition and the breaking-up of monopoly groupings. This has been given the added sting of an open hostility by successive governments towards established self-governing professional organisations which have been identified as centres of protective self-interest and resistance to radical change.

Second, the pushing of psychoanalysis into the marketplace where it has to suffer open competition and appraisal was given a formal structure by the need for all professional organizations to respond to the setting-up of the European Open Market.

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