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Szasz, T.S. (1957). On the Theory of Psycho-Analytic Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:166-182.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:166-182

On the Theory of Psycho-Analytic Treatment

Thomas S. Szasz, M.D.

I only want to feel assured that the therapy does not destroy the science. S. FREUD (31).

We are today anxiously aware that the power to change is not always necessarily good. J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER (62).



Psycho-analysis is not, in my opinion, in a position to create a Weltanschauung of its own. It has no need to do so, for it is a branch of science, and can subscribe to the scientific Weltanschauung. S. FREUD (29).

The problem of the nature of psychotherapy has occupied a position of central importance throughout the history of psycho-analysis. Nevertheless, the concepts upon which our theory of therapy rests—whatever the technique, goal and name of the psychotherapy might be—remain essentially limited to those developed during the first few decades of our science. Accordingly, certain concepts and terms are used by different workers to describe different, sometimes even diametrically opposite, ideas and experiences. This state of affairs is undesirable for a number of reasons. It may lead to misunderstanding among analysts; it may confuse and retard the development of the earnest student; and it may lead to repetitious restatements of theoretical positions and therapeutic orientations by various 'schools' of analysis without such interchange bringing about modifications in the respective workers' existing orientations.

To the extent that the foregoing shortcomings exist, psycho-analysis fails to live up to the basic requirements of a scientific discipline.

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