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Bálint, M. (1936). The Final Goal of Psycho-Analytic Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:206-216.

(1936). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 17:206-216

The Final Goal of Psycho-Analytic Treatment

Michael Bálint

One can confidently describe psycho-analytic treatment as a natural process of development in the patient. If, then, I inquire into the final goal of our therapy, I do not mean by this a prescribed final state, which, deduced from some philosophical, religious, moral, sociological, or even biological premise, requires that everyone should 'get well' according to its particular model. I ask rather: is our clinical experience sufficient to define the final goal, or at least, the final direction of this natural development?

There are special cases particularly suitable for this inquiry. I am thinking of those people who—like Freud's famous Wolf Man—break off the analysis with only partial results, and then, after an interval of years, continue the treatment, possibly with another analyst. The resumed work offers a very favourable opportunity for a fresh investigation of the former non-adjusted obstacles, and a cure in such a case supplies the proof that it was precisely those obstacles that had previously blocked the way to recovery.

A case of this kind first set before me the problem of how our patients become cured and what is really the final goal of psycho-analytic treatment. As the case offers nothing of special interest apart from this, I will mention here only what is of importance for the formulation of our problem. The man in question, who was well on in his forties

1 Read before the Thirteenth International Psycho-Analytical Congress, Lucerne, 1934.

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