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Spezzano, C. (2002). Our Literature as the Problem Child of Psychoanalysis: Commentary on Paper by Drew Westen. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(6):899-913.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(6):899-913

Our Literature as the Problem Child of Psychoanalysis: Commentary on Paper by Drew Westen Related Papers

Charles Spezzano, Ph.D.

This paper is a response to an essay by Drew Westen. The author agrees with many of Westen's arguments about problems in the psychoanalytic literature and adds that the psychoanalytic literature has always been a problem for psychoanalysis. If we think of psychoanalysis as an ongoing experiment, then its “trials” are all the analytic sessions that have been conducted. Our “literature” has never systematically drawn on those. Westen critically scrutinizes certain habits that, in his view, haunt our literature, but that we do not explicitly note or disown as conceptual contrivances we mean to get rid of, while they are often misguiding clinical thinking and practice. I suggest that a fascinating question riding below the waves of Westen's paper is why patients and analysts accept this situation. I suggest that we all treat psychoanalysis as wisdom, art, relationship, skill, and something other than the application of established scientific findings because we recognize and accept it as that kind of human activity. It is unclear if patients care whether or not their analysts are scientists, but it is clear that analysts are not optimistic about sifting the research literature and finding clear clues to more effective clinical thinking, work, or writing.

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