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Loch, W. (1965). A Study of Brief Psychotherapy: By David H. Malan. (London: Tavistock, 1963. Pp. 312. 35s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:261-265.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:261-265

A Study of Brief Psychotherapy: By David H. Malan. (London: Tavistock, 1963. Pp. 312. 35s.)

Review by:
Wolfgang Loch

Nowadays it is widely recognized that there are very many people whose illnesses respond to a form of treatment which—for lack of a more precise term—we agree to call 'psychotherapy'; and moreover the need for psychotherapy by far exceeds the supply. This situation may be relieved by two approaches: we may try to increase the number of trained psychotherapists; or we may try to scrutinize our own methods to find out if we can improve their efficiency. The present study confronts us with the latter task.

Right from the beginning it must be stated that the therapeutic method described in this book claims to be psycho-analysis in its core—i.e. it works with transference and resistance, and, in Freud's words, does not try to make the morbid reaction impossible, but tries to create a freedom of choice for the patient's ego. Various brief analytically oriented methods have been accused of infringing this tenet, and have consequently been discarded. In fact I agree that this work—about which the author gives us a full and, as it seems to me, most profound and frank report—deserves to be considered as psycho-analytic psychotherapy, although it lacks some of those features that many are accustomed to consider desirable if the true tradition of psycho-analysis is to be maintained.

The work reported is based on twenty-one cases of psychoneurotic illness (covering the whole range from anxiety states, through character disorders and perversions, to borderline states) treated by a team of seven analysts from the Tavistock Clinic in London, and the Cassel Hospital in Richmond. The number of sessions given ranged between four and forty, the average being 15.7, and the frequency varying from one to three sessions a week. The whole undertaking was initiated and permanently guided by Michael Balint, to whose 'unrivalled experience in psychodynamic diagnosis' tribute is duly paid.

This work, being carried out by trained analysts, is complementary to that reported by Balint with General Practitioners (The Doctor, his Patient, and the Illness, 1957).

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