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Hoffer, W. (1950). Three Psychological Criteria for the Termination of Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 31:194-195.

(1950). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31:194-195

Three Psychological Criteria for the Termination of Treatment

W. Hoffer

To formulate criteria for the termination of treatment is far from an easy task. Simplification has to be avoided, in spite of the demands of beginners. What has been said about termination in the past may be disappointing, but cannot be disregarded. One cannot learn from the mistakes of others if one overlooks them. It needs a collective effort, for which this generation of psycho-analysts probably is not yet prepared, and the awareness that we are not out for dicta but in search of the principles which determine our actions.

About ten years ago the members of this Society were asked: 'What are your criteria for termination? symptomatic, psycho-sexual, social? are your criteria mostly intuitive?' One-third, that is eight out of twenty-four psycho-analysts failed to answer the question at all, and a majority admitted that their criteria were essentially intuitive (Glover and Brierley, 1940, p. 111).

What do I think are the criteria for the termination of treatment? My answer would be this:

In comparison with other psychotherapeutic methods, psycho-analysis is not characterized by a certain number of sessions per week, or by the duration over a number of years, or by the arrangements in the consulting room, but by the fact that it initiates, lends aid to and utilizes certain mental processes, which were for the first time studied and described by Freud.

These mental processes take effect during the whole of the analytic procedure and play their part when termination is in the analyst's mind.

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