In his contribution to the 1956 Roundtable Discussions, Weiss considers the seeming gap between scientific progress and therapeutic effectiveness. He points to the splits that affect psychoanalysis – the split between soma and psyche and the split between science and humanism. He is concerned of losing the patient and the existential richness of human life, while being caught up in conflicting theories. Weiss is a proponent of a holistic and dynamic concept of human nature, in which the person is seen as a complex bio-psycho-social individual. In his view, the goal of treatment is helping the patient find his way to self-realization and the doctor–patient relationship is paramount in this process. Weiss emphasizes the therapist’s ability to enter the “inner world” of the patient, and to provide the experience of acceptance, which can allow for repression to be lifted and for discovering his own emotional insights, which leads to reintegrating repressed and rejected aspects of the self and makes self-realization possible.

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    When Frederick Weiss was a psychiatric resident at the Charité in Berlin, one of the foremost psychiatric services in the world at that time under Karl Bonhoeffer, he entered analysis with Franz Alexander, who was the first candidate to graduate from the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute in 1921. Weiss trained at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institue, where he also met and worked with Karen Horney, one of the founders of the Berlin Institute (Rubins, 1978, p. 292). By the way, Karen Horney completed her psychiatric residency in 1909 at the Charité, also in the psychiatric service of Karl Bonhoeffer.


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Correspondence to Frederick A Weiss.

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This paper was originally presented at the Round-Table Discussion, “What is effective in the therapeutic process?” at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Chicago, Illinois on May 1, 1956. The panel was moderated by Bella S. Van Bark, M.D. Other presenters were: Elizabeth Kilpatrick, M.D., Lewis Wolberg, M.D., Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D., Leslie H. Farber, M.D., Silvano Arieti, M.D., and Louis E. DeRosis, M.D. This paper was first published in the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1957, 17:15–20, and is republished here.

1Frederick A. Weiss, M.D. (1898—1967) was a Training and Supervising Analyst of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and a President of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. He was also on the Editorial Board of The American Journal of Psychoanalysis and a Charter Member of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, founded in 1956.

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Weiss, F. WHAT IS EFFECTIVE IN THE THERAPEUTIC PROCESS? A ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION. Am J Psychoanal 75, 194–203 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/ajp.2015.8

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  • holistic concept of human nature
  • emotional insight
  • self-realization
  • capacity for empathy
  • doctor–patient relationship
  • existential bond
  • true togetherness