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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Pfeffer, A.Z. (1962). An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Research: By Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1960. 117 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 31:260-261.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:260-261

An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Research: By Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1960. 117 pp.

Review by:
Arnold Z. Pfeffer

This small volume is addressed to the beginning investigator interested in the application of the methods of science to psychoanalytic research. The first half of the book covers some elementary principles of science. The latter half is concerned with psychoanalysis as science and with research in the analytic situation. There are brief discussions of the familiar criticisms of psychoanalysis as science—that it consists of uncontrolled observation and unrecorded observation, lacks qualification, experiment, control, follow-up, and confirmation; that its theories lack predictive value; that it has no rules of interpretation; that it employs obscurantist language. Other disciplines with possible relevance to psychoanalysis are briefly discussed—neurophysiology, ethology, psychology, anthropology, and communication theory—and there follows discussion of construction of theory.

Discussing research in the analytic situation, Colby emphasizes the necessity for psychoanalytic knowledge supplemented by research tools appropriate to psychoanalytic problems. The analytic situation as standardized, repeatable, and reproducible by multiple observers is discussed as a procedure for eliciting data that enable one to make reliable generalizations about human behavior. The essential variables of the analytic situation are divided into the following groups: setting, persons, collaboration, communication, and time (length, frequency, and number of sessions). As an example of research, the author raises a question as to whether the manipulation of these variables in systematic research would demonstrate whether they are really essential, or which are essential.

In the analytic situation, observer and observed observe one another observing. Each communicates with the other, makes inferences and inferences about inferences, and constructs hypotheses. And, the analyst, an observer, also observes himself.

Colby discusses the classification of facts on the basis of similarities, differences, and recurrences; the presence of a regularity, how regular it is, and the attempt to formulate a causal basis for the regularities observed. There follows a brief discussion of theory of probability.


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