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Thomä, H. (2004). Psychoanalysts without a Specific Professional Identity: A Utopian Dream?. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 13(4):213-236.

(2004). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 13(4):213-236

Psychoanalysts without a Specific Professional Identity: A Utopian Dream?

Helmut Thomä

The subject matter of identity belongs to the orthodox psychoanalytic movement. For about the last 15 years, the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) has successfully tried to facilitate research and to promote projects. If the resistance of influential analysts against empirical investigation decreases further, “psychoanalytic movement” and its unfavourable concomitants will be a thing of the past. The development to a scientific community will no longer be hampered by controversies over professional identity.

The psychosocial dimension and its normative implications put the concept of identity into question. Instead the author suggests that we speak of a psychoanalytic attitude. This professional self is closely connected to the personal self. It is however, necessary to separate the method from the person. For a long time the genealogy of the training analyst determined the membership in the ever-growing family of psychoanalysts. There have been black sheep right from the beginning. Dissidents, therefore, belong to the history of Psychoanalysis. The official acceptance of pluralism within the IPA invites comparisons between the various schools according to scientific criteria. The methodology of modern psychoanalytic process and outcome research provides principles for writing treatment reports. Group identities in their dogmatic aspects are detrimental for the future of psychoanalysis. The message of the paper is to express the hope that a critical eclecticism might replace psychoanalytic schools.

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