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Jones, E.E. Windholz, M. (1990). The Psychoanalytic Case Study: Toward a Method for Systematic Inquiry. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 38:985-1015.

(1990). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 38:985-1015

The Psychoanalytic Case Study: Toward a Method for Systematic Inquiry

Enrico E. Jones, Ph.D. and Michael Windholz, Ph.D.


This study represents a contribution toward the systematic and empirical investigation of psychoanalytic treatments. The method used, the Q-technique, allows the transformation of clinical data into a form amenable to quantitative analysis, thereby providing an empirical means to test theoretically and clinically derived understandings of psychoanalytic process. The treatment hours of a six-year analysis were audio-recorded and transcribed, and blocks of ten sessions were selected at regular intervals throughout the course of the analysis. Transcripts of these hours were then rated in random fashion by clinical judges with a Q-set designed to provide a standard language for the description and classification of analytic process. These descriptions of analytic hours, as structured by the Q-set, proved highly reliable, demonstrating the method's promise for addressing the long-standing problem of achieving reliable clinical judgments. Results suggest that subjecting the traditional psychoanalytic case study to systematic inquiry can contribute to establishing an empirical science base for some psychoanalytic propositions.

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