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Knapp, P.H. (1974). Segmentation and Structure in Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:14-36.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:14-36

Segmentation and Structure in Psychoanalysis

Peter H. Knapp, M.D.

In Search of Method

PSYCHOANALYSIS AND ITS MAIN TECHNICAL DEVICE, free association, are in one sense methods. A symptom, a dream, a behavior quirk appears; we listen and try to unravel its meaning. Codifications of clinical experience—Freud's own (1912)(1913)(1914) (1915), that of others, Fenichel (1941), Lorand (1946), and Greenson (1967) discuss how best to use the technique. Yet its actual raw material and the exact way conclusions are derived from this have received little systematic scrutiny. Partly the reason lies in the clinical and therapeutic orientation of most psychoanalysts and their concomitant concern about the primacy and privacy of the therapeutic relationship. These important issues, the place of research in training and the problem of recording the psychoanalytic encounter, are discussed elsewhere (Knapp et al., 1966, cf. also Gill et al., (1968). A further and, I believe, even more important factor is our lack of established ways to utilize the mass of information that emerges in psychoanalysis.

Clinical methods applied in a session or to studying a record of it are in essence flexible and varied, tolerant of ambiguity, aiming at synthesis, and trying to encompass the many phenomena that appear therapeutically significant. For scientific inquiry we must have additional principles of organization. We need a method to study the method.

Basically, such an approach must be naturalistic. As argued elsewhere (Knapp, 1971), the psychoanalytic situation is experimental in only a most limited sense. The naturalist starts by looking. Soon he must go further, decide what to look at and how.

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