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Psychoanalytic research: Is clinical material any use?

Hinshelwood, Robert D (2010) 'Psychoanalytic research: Is clinical material any use?' Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 24 (4). pp. 362-379. ISSN 0266-8734

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Abstract

Practical [limitations of RCT design] include the dilemma that while the RCT may be the only convincing method currently available to investigate causality in the relation between treatment and outcome, nevertheless the recognition of this fact should not lead us to forget that it is also, in many ways, lamentably inadequate to the task (Richardson, 2001, p. 170). I have argued that the case study, now held in disrepute, is nevertheless necessary to test psychoanalytic hypotheses and, if properly formulated, can indeed test, not merely generate, hypotheses (Edelson, 1986, p. 89). This paper discusses some of the issues in the current debate about the evidence of the validity of psychoanalytic knowledge. It argues that there is a place for single-case research as potentially as rigorous as other science-like disciplines, provided that the research design is carefully chosen and a prediction is formulated precisely. Research confidence in clinical material, always the empirical basis of evidence in psychoanalysis, has declined. This paper questions what needs to be done, what conditions to apply, in order to rehabilitate clinical material as an important evidence base for psychoanalysis. Public servants with fiscal or risk-management pre-occupations want specific outcomes in terms of changed people. However, outcome studies can tell us little about the details of what interpretations to formulate and how to use them. This paper, like psychoanalytic interventions themselves, may challenge unspoken assumptions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: science: hermeneutics; single case research; binary questions; subjectivity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2012 16:05
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2012 16:05
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/2019

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