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Eissler, K.R. (1950). Ego-Psychological Implications of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Delinquents. Psychoanal. St. Child, 5:97-121.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 5:97-121

Ego-Psychological Implications of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Delinquents

K. R. Eissler, M.D.

It is generally agreed upon that the psychoanalytic technique as broadly outlined by Freud in his technical papers is applicable only to some of those psychogenic disorders which belong to the group of the psychoneuroses.

For certain groups of disorders other techniques had to be devised since it became apparent that they were not amenable to the technique which so well served the treatment of the psychoneuroses. There are mainly three groups of disorders for which separate techniques have been worked out: the disorders of childhood, the group of schizophrenias, and the delinquencies. It was inevitable that the evolving of new techniques should raise the question whether or not they met the requirements of psychoanalysis. Paul Federn has discussed in general terms the conditions which a technique must fulfill in order to be considered a psychoanalytic technique (2). Here I wish to add a purely pragmatic statement. I would suggest that Freud's technique, for apparent reasons, should be considered as a kind of model treatment and that deviations necessary for the purpose of extending the range of psychoanalytic treatment to disorders outside of the neuroses should be kept at a minimum. For the sake of convenience the degree of deviation will be called the parameter of that technique. Consequently that technique which, e.g., in the treatment of the delinquencies, achieves its purpose with the smallest possible parameter, should be given the preference among all others and should be called psychoanalytic, although, as is the case of the treatment of delinquents, the deviation necessary at times may be so great that the model technique which it tries to approximate may scarcely be recognizable. But, speaking again pragmatically, if a change of technique is necessary, it should be shown each time why the model technique would be considered ineffective in the respective clinical instance and why the parameter of the new technique cannot be reduced.

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