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Meadow, P.W. (1974). A Research Method for Investigating the Effectiveness of Psychoanalytic Techniques. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(1):79-94.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(1):79-94

A Research Method for Investigating the Effectiveness of Psychoanalytic Techniques

Phyllis Whitcomb Meadow, Ph.D.

In a 1966 review of the literature, Eysenck2 noted an absence of specific hypotheses and of an experimental approach in psychoanalytic research. The extant studies, instead of being based on the relationship between cure and kind of intervention, were based on impressions that a cure had been effected. Specifically, these impressions consisted of

1.   The analyst's belief that he had succeeded

2.   Mutual agreement between the analyst and the patient

3.   Introduction of life style changes as evidence of character change

He pointed out that in the only direct study of the analytic session—Ellis' comparison of rational therapy to psychoanalysis—no method was defined, no transcripts were provided, no measuring devices were used, no criteria for judgment were established, and Ellis judged his own results. He concluded, therefore, that there was no evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of psychoanalysis.

Eysenck was not the first to grapple with this dilemma. Twenty years earlier, Sears17 had pointed out that “psychoanalytic concepts can be neither proved nor disproved until the therapeutic process is reformulated in objective, probably learning-theory, terms.” Following his pronouncement there was a flurry of interest in empirical definitions for the transcendental language of Freud. Hull,11 Mowrer, 13, 14 and Dollard and Miller1 redefined repetition compulsion, transference, and resistance in behavioral terms.

Mowrer's concept of the “mediated significance of stimuli,” which places control of behavior in the inner subjective field, resulted in a new emphasis on bringing change about through a shift in the

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