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Lichtenberg, J.D. (1993). Discussion: Can Empirical Studies Of Development Impact On Psychoanalytic Theory And Technique?. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):261-276.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):261-276

Discussion: Can Empirical Studies Of Development Impact On Psychoanalytic Theory And Technique?

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D.

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

PSYCHOANALYTIC EXPERIENCE EXPLORES motivation; and motivation is understandable through empathic entry into an analysand's affects, cognition, and activity packaged in narrative form. Therefore, I look at the developmental studies in this issue to see how the problems they address and the findings they obtain can help to sense more deeply and effectively the experience of the partners in the clinical exchange. I approach these studies with the belief that the experiences of infancy, lived within the matrix of caregiver ministration, affects later psychological development. While this assumption requires empirical support, its implications cannot be ignored. Each of our analytic theories contains explicit and implicit assumptions about early development, and each account contains proposals that conflict with and contradict the others. But no single empirical study or even group of studies will resolve the issue of the pertinence of infantile experience to later development or to psychoanalytictechnique. Too many factors come into play to be reduced to the design potential of an empirical study. We cannot hope to seek essential yes-no answers to the large questions. We can hope to obtain greater clarity about the significance of factors we hypothesize to be influential. For example, in studying a population of teen-aged mothers and their babies as reported by Osofsky, we can design studies to ask questions.

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