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Stone, L. (1974). The Assessment of Students' Progress. Ann. Psychoanal., 2:308-322.

(1974). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 2:308-322

The Assessment of Students' Progress

Leo Stone, M.D.

I do not presume that these brief remarks constitute a systematic review or even outline. I merely wish to state a few (thoroughly “unofficial”) individual opinions and debatable convictions about problems inherent in the evaluation of psychoanalytic students. My hope is that these comments, whether idiosyncratic or totally unoriginal, will serve heuristic or catalytic purposes better than would loftier observations.

A few general and essential considerations should provide a framework for the discussion:

First: The operational principle of “syncretism” (emphasized by Lewin & Ross, 1960, which is intrinsic and inevitable in psychoanalytic training-and in many directions uniquely productive—should be carefully re-evaluated in terms of its optional and purposive applications. It so permeates our training system that therapy threatens to crowd out the art and obligation of teaching as well as the objective extratherapeutic assessment of candidates.

Second: It is obvious that we assess a candidate's progress in order to evaluate his potentiality for graduation. All too often, however, the companion purpose of determining what help he may need in an individual sense (i.e., in terms of selected courses, reading, conferences, or a particular supervisor) may too readily be overshadowed by the “qualifying” estimate, or may be disposed of by way of the traditional and somewhat reflex panacea “more analysis” or by its more explicitly didactic counterpart “more supervision.” Certainly, these two classical recommendations are of fundamental importance. It is my impression, however, that our reliance on them, especially on “more analysis,” has achieved a certain automatic quality, which tends to sidetrack careful specification of indications and their nuances.


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