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Horowitz, M. (1992). Psychoanalytic Process Research Strategies: Edited by Hartvig Dahl, Horst Kächele, and Helmut Thomä. Berlin: Springer, 1988, 334 pp., $35.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:278-281.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:278-281

Psychoanalytic Process Research Strategies: Edited by Hartvig Dahl, Horst Kächele, and Helmut Thomä. Berlin: Springer, 1988, 334 pp., $35.00.

Review by:
Mardi Horowitz, M.D.

This book contains important chapters on clinical research in the context of psychoanalytic theory and treatment, and will be of high interest to both investigators and clinicians.

The book is divided into two parts, the first on objective methods for the analysis of psychodynamic structures, the second on methods for the intensive study of single cases. These methods are of general interest, which is why I recommend this book to clinicians who are not engaged in empirical research, as well as to the established investigator of psychoanalytic theory. During the psychoanalytic treatment process the clinician and the patient reach, move away from, and reach again different levels of consensus about what is going on in terms of the patient's unconscious mental processes. By understanding the methods used in research on both the symptom-forming process and the therapeutic process, the clinician can come to an improved understanding of his or her own unconscious processes in formulating the case and arriving at strategies of when, how, and what to interpret.

Let me say what I mean about this in a bit more detail. There are many verbal and nonverbal channels by which the clinician obtains information about the patient. The clinician is also reprocessing information from previous hours in a way that is unique, and this is the purpose of his or her use of free-floating attention. With so many incoming channels, the clinician cannot receive all with equal self-reflective conscious awareness. He or she relies on unconscious mental processes that then can interrupt consciousness with syntheses of information important to the current context.

In empirical research, investigators must select among many channels of information and study their combinations. This selection is stated as the research rationale and method. The explicit operations are clearer than in clinical work.

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