GREAT IDEAS AND DUMB LUCK IN PSYCHOANALYTIC PSYCHOTHERAPY

Abstract

Both Dr. Kuriloff’s initial contribution to the Roundtable, and her later response to her fellow discussants focus on the social construction of psychoanalytic theories of therapeutic action. She notes the promise of the enlightenment/ modern era as impetus for an initially positivist “science” of psychoanalysis, and then implicates the scourge of the Shoah as that which galvanized the largely Jewish seminal community to cling to universal, versus contextual theories and technique. That the deconstruction of truth and authority, beginning with the post-war “baby boom” and student movements in the United States and Europe, put an end to one metapsychology is yet another example of the power of context upon ideas and praxis. This seemingly haphazard pairing of context and content determines the degree to which theories are embraced or ignored within any particular body politic, or within our tiny community at one time or another, prompting Kuriloff to warn against over valuing and/or excluding any theory, theorist, or technique from what we need to know and do to be helpful to people. This tension—between immersion in, and observation of the field—is what psychoanalytic theory and praxis ought to allow.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The Roundtable Discussion, “What is effective in the therapeutic process?” took place at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Chicago, Illinois on May 1, 1956. Bella S. Van Bark, M.D. moderated the panel. Other presenters were Elizabeth Kilpatrick, M.D., Lewis Wolberg, M.D., Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D., Frederick A. Weiss, M.D., Leslie H. Farber, M.D., Louis E. DeRosis, M.D., and Silvano Arieti, M.D.

  2. 2.

    The Scientific Program Committee of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, under the chairmanship of Dr. Frederick A. Weiss, arranged the Roundtable Discussion, “What Leads to Basic Change in Psychoanalytic Therapy?” at the New York Academy of Medicine in the Spring of 1964. Melvin Boigon, M.D. moderated the panel. Other participants were William V. Silverberg, M.D., Frederick A. Weiss, M.D. and Alfred H. Rifkin, M.D.

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Correspondence to Emily Kuriloff.

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This reaction paper is part of the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Special Issue, guest edited by Dr. Robert M. Prince. Other responders to the 1956 and 1964 AJP Roundtables are: Dr. Steven D. Axelrod, Dr. Sheldon Itzkowitz, Dr. Ronald C. Naso and Dr. Larry M. Rosenberg.

1Emily Kuriloff, Psy.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the William Alanson White Institute, NYC, where she is currently Director of Clinical Education.

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Kuriloff, E. GREAT IDEAS AND DUMB LUCK IN PSYCHOANALYTIC PSYCHOTHERAPY. Am J Psychoanal 75, 154–158 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/ajp.2015.16

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Keywords

  • Psychoanalytic history
  • interpersonal psychoanalysis
  • culture
  • relational psychoanalysis