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Brierley, M. (1943). Theory, Practice and Public Relations. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 24:119-125.

(1943). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 24:119-125

Theory, Practice and Public Relations

Marjorie Brierley

The formulation of psycho-analytic theory and the practice of therapy began together. A reciprocal relationship continues to exist between them because the consulting-room remains our principal laboratory. This close association has many advantages, but it is not by any means easy to keep the partners on a footing of equality.

Most of us earn our living by practice and this fact of itself tends to overweight our interest in problems of technique and therapy. The result is that we too often think of theory chiefly as a necessary background and adjuvant to practice. The number of Members spontaneously interested in theory is limited by comparison with those primarily interested in its therapeutic or other practical application. Probably many of us regard the current series of Special Scientific Discussions as an unfortunate necessity in more than one sense. Nevertheless, we are by constitution a scientific society and not merely a trade union of practitioners. If we wish to further the science of psycho-analysis, to increase our knowledge of mental life so as continually to widen the range of its potential application, we must recognize that the development and advance of sound theory is as important as the maintenance and extension of sound practice. We cannot afford to give one aim preference over the other but must pursue them concurrently.

There will, inevitably, always be a certain division of labour amongst us. The chief means of verification employed in other sciences are not available to us because we cannot perform controlled experiments and the analytic situation can only be standardized to a point far short of uniformity.

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