Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 35-42

First online:

Psychoanalytic training institutes as cults: An example of entropy

  • Robert S. PepperAffiliated with

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Some psychoanalytic training institutes in this country more closely resemble religious cults than centers of learning. Institutes which foster the establishment of multiple role relationships between students and their instructors often unwittingly exploit students' dependence in a variety of ways. Further, there is also a conflict of interest between the institute's stated organizational goals and its need to survive. Consequently, there is a bias toward entropy. After a time, psychoanalytic institutes, like all systems, wind down. The purpose of this article is to alert the professional community to the potential hazards of the complicated relationships between instructors and supervisors at these institutes. Research studies suggest a tendency toward the development of a group-think environment where critical thinking and scientific analysis are subverted. Narcissistic gratification and passive acceptance of leaders' teachings prevail. The implications for the well-being of the candidates and the prospects for reform are explored.