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Schachter, J. Kächele, H. (2015). Schachter and Kächele on Greenberg. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(3):NP34-NP36.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(3):NP34-NP36

Letters to the Editor

Schachter and Kächele on Greenberg

Joseph Schachter and Horst Kächele

We are writing in support of Jay Greenberg's thesis, advanced in his paper “Therapeutic Action and the Analyst's Responsibility” (JAPA 63/1), that analysts are unable to determine whether their interventions are “correct” or effective. Over the years, many analysts have grappled with this problem. The historical lack of rebuttal substantiates his view and underlines the importance of assessing the fundamental implications of this position for psychoanalysis.

Greenberg's thesis is implied in the statement “I am not assuming that one way of understanding the dynamics of this exchange is more ‘correct’ than another; nor do I have any information that would lead me to believe that one intervention is more analytically or therapeutically effective …” (p. 25). He reinforces his assertion by quoting Rachel Blass's discussion, in her commentary on the paper, of Civitarese's treatment of a patient; there she suggests that while we “cannot provide certain proof regarding the truth of a theory, what [discussion] can provide is a deeper and more precise understanding of one s own theory and those of others” (p. 60; emphasis added). “At the risk of repeating myself,” Greenberg responds, “this is precisely my point” (p. 95).

Greenberg's assertion that our inability to judge whether an intervention can be judged either “correct” or effective has important implications, including the fundamental, complex questions of whether psychoanalysis is a science, and whether we lack the capacity to evaluate analytic competence.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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