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Richards, A.D. (1990). The Future of Psychoanalysis: The Past, Present, and Future of Psychoanalytic Theory. Psychoanal Q., 59:347-369.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:347-369

The Future of Psychoanalysis: The Past, Present, and Future of Psychoanalytic Theory

Arnold D. Richards, M.D.

Now, as we enter the centenary decade of our science, it is fitting to contemplate the role of theory in psychoanalysis—past, present, and future. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, in the spring or summer of 1889, Freud began to use the talking cure with his patient, Anna von Lieben (Frau Cäcilie M) and began to listen to what she had to say as she lay on her couch (Swales, 1986p. 36). The decade that followed witnessed the birth of psychoanalysis (Stewart, 1967). And yet another milestone suggests the historical timeliness of a reconsideration of theory: we have just commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Freud's death, an event which neatly bisects the history of psychoanalysis into a half century during which its founder personally dominated the field, and an ensuing half century of growth and development by his successors.

As prologue to my remarks on the present and future of theory in our profession, I turn to the past. The birth of psychoanalysis cannot be divorced from the theoretical models—and especially the theory of mind—that underlay Freud's discoveries. Indeed, the psychoanalytic method was the operational correlate of the theory of mind that Freud brought to the treatment situation. From the outset, Freud's theory of mind informed both his data of observation and his theory of therapeutic action.

The status of the Project for a Scientific Psychology (1895) as a theoretical foundation of psychoanalytic theory has been copiously documented.

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