Psychotherapies for the Psychoses: Theoretical, Cultural and Clinical Integration

By John F.M. Gleeson; Eóin Killackey et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
The rehabilitation of
psychoanalysis and the family
in psychosis:
Recovering from blaming

Brian V. Martindale


Introduction

Psychoanalysis and its derivatives are clinical and research endeavours attempting to do just what the word implies – make a psychological analysis of a particular problem whether it be that of an individual, a group, a family or other context. There is currently a revival of interest in the psychology of psychosis and in the talking therapies in psychosis including the involvement of relevant family members in the overall treatment. It seems appropriate therefore to consider the ‘parent’ of the talking cures – psychoanalysis – and its relationship and relevance to work with families where there is a member with a psychotic vulnerability.


Reductionism

A common human tendency in all fields of investigation is to make claims for the applicability to other situations of some findings, knowledge or understandings acquired in one particular situation. New findings are often overvalued and potential contributions from other sources devalued.

It takes time to clarify whether new findings and their wider application are fully justified, sometimes justified or rarely unjustified and even dangerous and erroneous. Psychiatry has been vulnerable to adopting the latest ideas or success story. The history of leucotomy, asylums, insulin therapy, the idealization of neuroleptics, the decades searching for ‘the cause’ of schizophrenia and the overvaluation of a variety of psychological explanations and approaches (currently cognitive approaches) are examples. In the USA, psychoanalysis dominated psychiatry at the expense of the growth of other disciplines, sometimes adopting a reductionist stance towards the aetiology of mental disturbance.

Just as explanations or a treatment method can be overvalued or its implementation overextended, so they can be undervalued, and restricted in use. Psychoanalysis and, in the context of this chapter, its contribution to understanding families in psychosis has swung between these extremes and

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