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Kernberg, O.F. (1993). Discussion: Empirical Research In Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):369-380.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):369-380

Discussion: Empirical Research In Psychoanalysis

Otto F. Kernberg, M.D.

Associate Chairman and Medical Director, The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Westchester Division; Professor of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College; Training and Supervising Analyst, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.

THE PAPERS UNDER REVIEW might well be described as having been produced by two generations of researchers. The first generation's focus was mostly on outcome (the scientific evaluation of the effectiveness of psychoanalytic treatment); the focus of the second generation has been mostly on process (the extent to which outcome is determined by the interaction of the patient's psychopathology and personality, on the one hand, and the analyst's skills, personality, and particularly, his technical interventions, on the other). As a whole, these reports reflect both the progress and the present limitations and challenges of psychoanalytic research.

This first generation is perhaps best represented by the psychotherapy research project of the Menninger Foundation (to which Robert Wallerstein and Lester Luborsky contributed so importantly), a project that attempted to capture the central attributes of the patient, of the therapist and his technique, the psychosocial environment surrounding the treatment, and the treatment process itself.

Wallerstein summarizes the rationale of the Menninger Psychotherapy Research Project that began in 1954, its essential methodology, and appropriately concludes that "... the findings and conclusions from PRP were more decisive in the outcome realm, more inferential in the process realm (and the project is usually seen as a major outcome study)."

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