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Mayer, E.L. De Marneffe, D. (1992). When Theory and Practice Diverge: Gender-Related Patterns of Referral to Psychoanalysts. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:551-585.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:551-585

When Theory and Practice Diverge: Gender-Related Patterns of Referral to Psychoanalysts

Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D. and Daphne De Marneffe


This study tests the hypothesis that female analysts, relative to male analysts, receive a disproportionately small percentage of male referrals. Referral patterns for 170 analysts from four institutes accredited by the American Psychoanalytic Association were examined. One thousand, five hundred and ten patient referrals were studied. The findings were extremely robust and offered dramatic confirmation of our hypothesis. The major implications of the study are as follows: (1) Women analysts receive relatively few adult male referrals, making it difficult for them to gain requisite clinical experience with men. (2) Analysts and nonanalysts alike demonstrate a reluctance to refer male patients to female analysts. (3) Adult referrals, including those made by analysts, are significantly influenced by the issue of gender match between patient and analyst. (4) Analysts' behavior with regard to making referrals does not correspond to explicit clinical theory regarding how analysts make referrals—specifically, the extent to which gender influences the referral process is not adequately described by theory. We believe that these findings are of some concern from the standpoint of analytic education and that they also raise questions regarding unacknowledged

aspects of how gender match between patient and analyst enters into clinical decision making.

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