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Plakun, E. (2012). Treatment Resistance and Psychodynamic Psychiatry: Concepts Psychiatry Needs from Psychoanalysis. Psychodyn. Psych., 40(2):183-209.

(2012). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 40(2):183-209

Treatment Resistance and Psychodynamic Psychiatry: Concepts Psychiatry Needs from Psychoanalysis

Eric Plakun, M.D.

Over the last 30 years psychiatry and psychoanalysis have moved in substantially divergent directions. Psychiatry has become rich in methodology but conceptually limited, with a drift toward biological reductionism. Psychoanalysis has remained relatively limited in methodology, but conceptually rich. The rich methodology of psychiatry has led to major contributions in discovering gene by environment interactions, the importance of early adversity, and to recognition of the serious problem posed by treatment resistance. However, psychiatry's biologically reductionistic conceptual focus interferes with the development of a nuanced clinical perspective based on emerging knowledge that might help more treatment resistant patients become treatment responders. This article argues that recognition of the problem of treatment resistance in psychiatry creates a need for it to reconnect with the conceptual richness of psychoanalysis in order to improve patient care. Psychodynamic psychiatry is defined as the relevant intersection of psychiatry and psychoanalysis where this reconnection can occur. I will suggest selected aspects of psychoanalysis that are especially relevant to psychiatry in improving outcomes in work with treatment resistant patients.

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