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Bornstein, R.F. (2005). Reconnecting Psychoanalysis to Mainstream Psychology: Challenges and Opportunities. Psychoanal. Psychol., 22(3):323-340.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 22(3):323-340

Reconnecting Psychoanalysis to Mainstream Psychology: Challenges and Opportunities

Robert F. Bornstein, Ph.D.

Although psychoanalysis was once central to mainstream psychology, in recent years psychodynamic models of personality and psychopathology have become increasingly marginalized. The factors that combined to “disconnect” psychoanalysis from contemporary psychological science and clinical practice are examined, and strategies that can help reconnect psychoanalysis to mainstream psychology are described. These are (a) the use of nomothetic research methods to test and refine psychoanalytic concepts and (b) the communication of psychoanalytic principles and findings to colleagues, students, and members of the public. Opportunities and challenges that arise during this reconnection process are discussed, and prospects for the rebirth of a truly heuristic, integrative psychoanalysis are considered.

There is literally nothing to be said, scientifically or therapeutically, to the advantage of the entire Freudian system or any of its component dogmas. (Crews, 1996, p. 63)

From a scientific point of view, classical Freudian psychoanalysis is dead both as a theory of the mind and a mode of therapy.… No empirical evidence supports any specific proposition of psychoanalytic theory. (Kihlstrom, 1999, p. 376)

Not too long ago, psychoanalysis dominated American and European psychology. As the preceding quotations illustrate, however, the status of psychoanalysis within the intellectual community has diminished substantially in recent years. Given recent trends in academic and clinical research (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999) and the impact of managed care on insight-oriented treatment (Sperling, Sack, & Field, 2000), it is difficult to envision psychoanalytic theory regaining its former status any time soon. It is a worrisome situation for any practitioner or researcher interested in the long-term health of psychoanalysis.


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