The Scope of Psychoanalysis, 1921-1961: Selected Papers

By Franz Alexander | Go to book overview

Current Problems in Dynamic Psychotherapy in Its Relationship to Psychoanalysis
◀1959▶

The current trend toward applying psychodynamic reasoning to psychotherapy which in certain respects differs from the standardized form of psychoanalytic treatment is one of the most signficant developments in psychiatry. Freud foresaw this development in his often quoted statement in which he compared psychoanalysis with gold and other psychotherapeutic procedures with its alloys. This unmistakably implies a value judgment, and permits certain reflections concerning the underlying reasoning. It obviously stems from Freud's conviction that the aims of psychoanalytic treatment and research run parallel. Psychoanalysis aims at the genetic understanding of the patient's complaints. According to Freud, insight into these origins is the primary therapeutic agent. Etiological research and psychoanalysis accordingly have the same objective: to understand the origins of a disease. Referring to psychotherapy, Freud obviously meant that the latter was not an attempt to penetrate into the early determinants of the patient's current complaints. It tries to alleviate them with procedures which are not etiologically oriented, at least not to the same degree as classical analysis. In it the pure gold of etiological understanding is mixed with less valuable practical objectives.

There is growing doubt among many experienced analysts concerning such a complete parallelism between the aims of genetic research and psychoanalytic therapy. Freud's parallelity statement is only approximately true. It was, however, a most fortunate position at the time when Freud pronounced it. It was a logical outcome of his conviction that in order to cure a disease one must understand its causes. Therefore, his first interest was in understanding the nature and the origins of neurotic illness. This was the first indispensable step towards attempting to cure it. To this basic conviction of Freud we

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