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Leuzinger-Bohleber, M. (2004). What does conceptual research have to offer?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(6):1477-1478.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(6):1477-1478

What does conceptual research have to offer?

Reported by:
Moderator Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber

One aim of this panel was to deepen the understanding of the tasks of the new Research Subcommittee for Clinical, Conceptual, Epistemological and Historical Research which was appointed in Nice. The papers of the panel should help to characterise conceptual research more precisely pointing out the differences between clinical, conceptual and empirical research—a prerequisite for supporting and strengthening conceptual research within the IPA. These tasks are connected with sophisticated epistemological and methodological questions of psychoanalytic research.

Daniel Widlöcher underlined the fact that ‘clinical’ and ‘empirical’ research define methods, whereas ‘conceptual’ research does not. It is not research by concepts but on concepts. Conceptual research is not concerned with the usefulness of the concept in the clinical situation. It examines the role of the concept in the clinician's conceptual field, and especially in the clinical community. The purpose of conceptual research is to observe clinical research which means that it is in a ‘second position’ which often irritates clinicians. Therefore, in Widlöcher's view, clinical and conceptual research do not coincide. He states that conceptual research—through its methods—is alongside research known as empirical; by its purpose it is close to clinician research. Clinicians can take advantage of the challenge of doctrinal evidence which is brought up by creative conceptual research.

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