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Gaskill, H.S. (1976). An Assessment of Psychoanalysis as Viewed from Within. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24:553-588.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24:553-588

An Assessment of Psychoanalysis as Viewed from Within

Herbert S. Gaskill, M.D.

AN ASSESSMENT OF THE FUTURE of psychoanalysis has two interrelated themes: psychoanalytic theory and psychoanalysis as a method of therapy. Any attempt to evaluate analytic therapy will of necessity include the evolution of its theory. It is equally axiomatic that advances in technique are dependent on clarifications of or revisions in theory. Consonant with the history of analysis, future advances in theory will doubtless further refine psychoanalytic therapy. At the same time, psychoanalytic theory has a relevance greatly exceeding its therapeutic application: the position it has assumed as one of the basic sciences of man. Psychoanalysis has had a profound impact on our culture and our intellectual life during the past 75 years. Predictions about the future in any area are extremely hazardous. I would nevertheless venture to predict that the increasing "articulations" of psychoanalysis with the other sciences of man will, in the future, overshadow its therapeutic innovations.

This attempt to assess the state of our theory and practice is consonant with Freud's profound interest in the process of change, as exemplified in the development of both his therapeutic method and his scientific thinking. The data Freud constantly accumulated from his patients led him to repeated revisions of his theoretical assumptions about the organization of the human mind and the origins of psychopathology; these revisions were then translated into principles of technique for the psychological treatment of the neuroses.

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