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Arlow, J.A. (1993). Discussion: A Clinician's Comments On Empirical Studies Of Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):143-152.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):143-152

Discussion: A Clinician's Comments On Empirical Studies Of Psychoanalysis

Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

AT FIRST GLANCE IT WOULD appear that, for a psychoanalytic clinician like myself to comment on empirical research into the analytic process represents an exercise in temerity. I must confess to little or no training in the rigors of experimental design, and I have in the past made only a peripheral and methodologically constricted contribution to some empirical research into the psychoanalytic process. But as a practitioner I have been interested in the issue of validation of interpretation and of basic concepts of psychoanalysis. This interest, I am certain, I share with many colleagues who would welcome empirically founded, scientifically secure validation of fundamental psychoanalytic propositions as well as of technical procedures.

To be sure, not a few analysts look askance at research of this kind. Many regard such concerns as evidence of persistent doubt concerning the "truth" of psychoanalytic findings, and they feel that interest in such research represents an effort on the part of the researchers to repudiate some unacceptable knowledge about their own motivation, conscious or unconscious.

In addition, there are special features of the analyst's inner experience while he is at work processing the patient's material that tend to render issues of empirical confirmation irrelevant or at least peripheral to his interests. In previous communications (Arlow, 1979); 1993, I delineated two aspects of the analyst's mental functioning as he proceeds from listening to intepretation.

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