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Psychoanal Q. 2003 Jan;72(1):13-47.

Some complexities in the relationship of psychoanalytic theory to technique.

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  • 1Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London, England WCIE 6BT.


This paper considers the current fragmentation of psychoanalytic theory as a result of the illusorily close association of practice and theory. The author argues that the politically motivated assertion of a direct connection between theory and practice should be set aside and that practice should be liberated from theory, permitting theory to evolve in the context of radically modified patterns of practice. If theory were decoupled from practice, technique might progress on purely pragmatic grounds, on the basis of what is seen to work. Psychoanalytic theory of mental function could then follow practice, integrating what is newly discovered through innovative methods of clinical work. Such a pragmatic, principally action-oriented use of theory would bring psychoanalysis more in line with modern, postempirical views of science.

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