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Gullestad, S.E. (2007). Psychoanalysis and Empirical Research: Comments on a Doctoral Dissertation. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 30(2):113-117.

(2007). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 30(2):113-117

Reports and Brief Communications

Psychoanalysis and Empirical Research: Comments on a Doctoral Dissertation

Siri Erika Gullestad, Dr. Philos.

The Danish psychologist Kathrine Egede Zeuthen recently submitted and defended her doctoral thesis Love and survival: on infantile sexuality and sexual abuse at the department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen. As part of the Phd committee I participated in the assessment and public discussion of the thesis. I shall present some points of view from the discussion.

Kathrine Egede Zeuthens doctoral thesis is based on her commitment and engagement within the area of child sexual abuse. As a clinical psychologist, she has worked with children referred to the team for Sexually abused Children at the Danish University Hospital (rigshospitalet), Copenhagen, due to suspicion of sexual abuse. Zeuthen's doctoral thesis is based on psychotherapies with three of these children – Jesper, line and anton. Although not being regular child psychoanalyses, the psychotherapeutic work is nevertheless inspired by psychoanalytic/psychodynamic thinking. The overall aim of the thesis is to understand how sexual abuse affects the development of the child, and specifically the development of infantile sexuality and the child's ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Observations from the therapeutic situation are interpreted through psychoanalytic theory, in particular, the French psychoanalyst Jean laplanche's theory of general seduction. Thus, psychoanalysis is applied with the purpose of attaining an in-depth understanding of the psychological consequences of abuse.

Contemporary theories of trauma related to child sexual abuse for the most part have evolved external to psychoanalysis.

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