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Mclaughlin, J.T. (1990). Psychoanalytic Process Research Strategies edited by Hartvig Dahl, Horst Kächele, and Helmut Thomä Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1988, xviii + 334 pp., $25.00. Psa. Books, 1(3):329-336.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(3):329-336

Psychoanalytic Process Research Strategies edited by Hartvig Dahl, Horst Kächele, and Helmut Thomä Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1988, xviii + 334 pp., $25.00

Review by:
James T. Mclaughlin, M.D.

In the summer of 1985 researchers from academic settings in the United States and West Germany gathered in Hamburg for their Eighth Workshop on Empirical Research in Psychoanalysis. One valuable outcome is this account of progress made in some 18 separate research projects focused on clinical data from psychoanalysis and dynamic psychotherapy. A close reading will reward psychoanalytic clinicians, especially those whose intellectual curiosity and dissatisfaction with present knowledge are reinforced by a wish for respectable validation and correction of theory through accepted scientific method. Yet having to slog through information dense with statistics, acronyms, and references to crucial technical detail described elsewhere makes for a daunting journey.

Dahl's introduction helps by mapping the several methods, strategies, and focuses of the contributors, as do the contributors themselves by comparing and contrasting their data with those of the other research groups. With these multiple perspectives, the reader gains a sense of an impressive accrual of knowledge arduously won by a relative handful (32) of contributors.

As Dahl notes (p. viii), the research thrust of the past 10 years no longer aims to document the comparative efficacy of various treatment modalities, but instead has converged on the patients' problems, treatment processes and therapeutic outcome. This convergence, due to the pioneering of Luborsky and of Strupp in the 70s, has demanded that these three components (the P-T-O of Strupp) be articulated in concepts and terms congruent for all.

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