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Emde, R.N. Fonagy, P. (1997). An Emerging Culture For Psychoanalytic Research?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:643-651.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:643-651

An Emerging Culture For Psychoanalytic Research?

Robert N. Emde and Peter Fonagy

Psychoanalysis has had a difficult time promoting research. As a profession, we are deeply committed to concerns that involve individuality, struggles with conflict, and constructing psychological meaning in the midst of the surrounding culture and life context. Moreover, the calls for attention to such concerns are likely to increase as the public becomes aware of the complexities of our increasing knowledge of genetics, the neurosciences and development. There will be demands to know more about the implications of such knowledge in terms of an individual's experience and in terms of the potential for improvement in particular environmental transactions. There will also be demands to know more about the usefulness of various psychological therapies as new forms of disorder and risk are specified. In furthering research that responds to these demands in ways that extend our humanistic and therapeutic interests psychoanalysts have much to offer. But our history and our organisational structures have placed the field of psychoanalysis in a paradoxical position.

Although it began by generating an extraordinarily innovative body of knowledge, psychoanalysis grew in isolation from universities and focused on one method of enquiry, namely, the psychoanalytic situation. Moreover, psychoanalytic training and continuing education has focused until now on the art of clinical practice and neglected empirical research. All too often we teach that enquiry is confined to our one method, and that the evaluation of theory is confined to judgements of narrative coherence.

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