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Schwaber, E.A. (1999). On Hypothesis and Evidence. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(2):543.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(2):543

On Hypothesis and Evidence

Evelyne Albrecht Schwaber

January 26, 1999. In “Clinical Evidence and Multiple Models: New Responsibilities” (JAPA 46/4), Dale Boesky argues cogently, I believe, for more formalized study of the topic of clinical evidence. He indicates that in his survey of component institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association, done ten years ago, he found no seminars devoted exclusively to this topic. I have been teaching such a seminar, given as a one-year course, as a part of the required core curriculum at the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East, since 1980. I have also been offering this seminar intermittently for some years as a “selective” at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Originally titled “Analytic Listening,” the seminar has in recent years borne the subtitle “Reflections on Hypothesis and Evidence” to convey its contents more explicitly. Critical readings of clinical publications, as well as line-by-line review of ongoing process material, drawing on a variety of theoretical persuasions, are addressed for rigorous reflection and questioning.

Effort is made to sharpen the focus on the data-gathering process, including methodological and epistemological considerations, and to facilitate awareness of the often unrecognized assumptions and inferences that may lead us—no matter what theoretical position is espoused—to blur the boundaries between hypothesis and evidence.

I also have been leading a discussion group on this subject at the Scientific Meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association since 1979. In addition, at the 1996 Spring Meetings in Los Angeles, I was invited to offer a formal “Psychoanalytic Course” titled “Data-Gathering in Clinical Work: Reflections on Hypothesis and Evidence.” This is a subject about which I have written a fair amount and which I agree is most important to consider.

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