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World Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;2(2):73-80.

Psychoanalysis today.

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  • 1Psychoanalysis Unit, Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK.

Abstract

The paper discusses the precarious position of psychoanalysis, a therapeutic approach which historically has defined itself by freedom from constraint and counted treatment length not in terms of number of sessions but in terms of years, in today's era of empirically validated treatments and brief structured interventions. The evidence that exists for the effectiveness of psychoanalysis as a treatment for psychological disorder is reviewed. The evidence base is significant and growing, but less than might meet criteria for an empirically based therapy. The author goes on to argue that the absence of evidence may be symptomatic of the epistemic difficulties that psychoanalysis faces in the context of 21st century psychiatry, and examines some of the philosophical problems faced by psychoanalysis as a model of the mind. Finally some changes necessary in order to ensure a future for psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapies within psychiatry are suggested.

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