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Lehtonen, J. (1999). The rôle of psychoanalysis as theoretical system and treatment method in future psychiatry: a panel. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(2):264-267.

(1999). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 22(2):264-267

The rôle of psychoanalysis as theoretical system and treatment method in future psychiatry: a panel

Johannes Lehtonen, M.D.

The rôle of psychoanalysis in Public Health Institutions and in the Universities is not equally significant today as it was some 15-20 years ago, at least in Finland. The present development is, no doubt, a result of many different factors. One of the most influential is the growing impact of quantitative, empirical research especially in medicine and the rapidly expanding technological innovations closely related to it. Both factors have a high affinity to recruit young professionals. The approach that is specific in psychoanalysis to its research and treatment object, has consequently remained in a relative shadow. This has resulted in some countries to a decreasing recruitment of medically-trained analysts who would have affiliation to the developments going on presently in those two large domains mentioned: the academic research world and the public health care system. The healing of the now imminent cleft between psychoanalysis and the health sciences most likely suffers from this trend.

The forthcoming effects of these developments should, however, be anticipated. It is likely that the interface that exists between psychoanalysis and the empirical sciences - to which already Freud (1913) paid attention in his article on the scientific claims of psychoanalysis - will be probably less visited than previously. One of the results of this is that the valuable knowledge and skills deriving from psychoanalytical training, like the awareness of the transference and countertransference phenomena and familiarity with the primary process thinking and experiencing often relevant also for understanding the behaviour of somatically ill patients, will be less at the disposal to the health care professionals, and psychoanalysis, for its own part, remains less disposed to fresh influences from outside. Bypassing other issues involved, the simple fact of the lacking availability of psychoanalytical and psychodynamic knowledge in the healing sciences already makes a big difference.


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