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Bachrach, H.M. Galatzer-Levy, R. Skolnikoff, A. Waldron, S., Jr. (1991). On the Efficacy of Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:871-916.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:871-916

On the Efficacy of Psychoanalysis

Henry M. Bachrach, Ph.D., Robert Galatzer-Levy, M.D., Alan Skolnikoff, M.D. and Sherwood Waldron, Jr., M.D.


In this study we critically review the formal research literature pertinent to the outcomes of psychoanalysis and the factors influencing these outcomes. Our inquiry was conducted from a psychoanalytic perspective. We found the research yield consistent with the accumulated body of clinically derived psychoanalytic knowledge, e.g., patients suitable for psychoanalysis derive substantial therapeutic benefit; analyzability and therapeutic benefit are relatively separate dimensions and their extent is relatively unpredictable from the perspective of initial evaluation among seemingly suitable cases. The studies all contain clinical and methodological limitations which are no more substantial than in other forms of psychotherapy research, but they have not substantially advanced psychoanalytic knowledge. This raises challenges for the further development of formal research strategies native to psychoanalysis.

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