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Rickman, J. (1957). XVII. The RôLe and Future of Psycho-Therapy Within Psychiatry (1950). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):131-143.

(1957). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):131-143

XVII. The RôLe and Future of Psycho-Therapy Within Psychiatry (1950) Book Information Previous Up Next

John Rickman, M.D.

1.   It may be well to begin by delimiting the term psycho-therapy; to me it has two aspects:

a)   It is a procedure of verbal interchange between patient and doctor in which the phenomena presented by the patient to the doctor during interview are interpreted by the doctor to the patientr—to the end that the patient's mental pain shall be relieved (by the interpretation) and he shall have an increased understanding and mastery of the impulse-laden, unresolved, emotional conflicts in his own personal past experience, and a better insight into his own personality.

b)   Psycho-therapy is also a procedure in which transference phenomena are manipulated by the doctor, whether or no he is conscious of the nature of those phenomena within the patient or in himself.

This double-channelled definition is positive, i.e. it states what happens, but it does not exclude the simultaneous or alternating use of non-psycho-therapeutic procedures such as induced hypoglycaemia or narcosis or fits (which are sometimes given the lordly title of biological treatments). This definition also covers most of the procedures of Group Psycho-therapy, which I shall discuss in more detail later.

2.   It may also be well for a moment to discuss Psychiatry, within which it would seem psycho-therapy has both a rôle and a future.

Psychiatry used to be a circumscribed area of medical activity into which one class of troublesome people were sent when their behaviour was conspicuously odd (prisons, to which the other class of troublesome people were sent, were for a time, strangely enough, reckoned outside the boundary of psychiatry).

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