Measuring a Pervasive Psychic Structure in Psychotherapy: The Core Conflictual Relationship Theme

  • Lester Luborsky
Part of the The Downstate Series of Research in Psychiatry and Psychology book series (DSRPP, volume 1)


I’ll first tell the story of the preparation for tracking a whale-sized theme, “the core conflictual relationship theme,” and then tell its method. The idea surfaced recently after a long search for the curative factors in psychotherapy (Luborsky, in press). It took shape as part of the perspective gained after seeing the consistent results of the three largest multivariate predictive psychotherapy studies: the Chicago Counseling Center Project (Fiske, Cartwright & Kirtner, 1964), the Mitchell et al. Arkansas Project (1973), and the Penn Psychotherapy Project (Luborsky et al., in progress).


Core Theme Extreme Group Internal Response Transference Pattern Relationship Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arlow, J. Ego psychology in the study of mythology. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1961, 9:371–393.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arlow, J. Unconscious fantasy and disturbances of conscious experience. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1969, 38: 1–27. (a)Google Scholar
  3. Arlow, J. Fantasy, memory, and reality testing. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1969, 38:28–51. (b)PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Aron, Betty. A manual for analyses of the thematic apperception test. Berkeley, Calif.: Willis E. Berg, 1949.Google Scholar
  5. Block, J. Recognizing the coherence of personality. Unpublished manuscript, July, 1975.Google Scholar
  6. Blos, P. The adolescent personality. A study of individual behavior for the commission on secondary school curriculum. New York-London: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1941.Google Scholar
  7. Curtis, H. Toward a metapsychology of transference. Paper read to American Psychoanalytic Association, New York, 1973.Google Scholar
  8. Dahl, H. A quantitative study of a psychoanalysis. In R. R. Holt & E. Peterfreund (Eds.), Psychoanalysis & Contemporary Science, Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Company, 1972.Google Scholar
  9. Ekstein, R. Psychoanalytic techniques. In D. Brower & L. E. Abt (Eds.), Progress in clinical psychology, Vol. 2. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1956.Google Scholar
  10. Fiske, D. W., Cartwright, D. S., & Kirtner, W. L. Are psychotherapeutic changes predictable? Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 1964, 69:4l8–426.Google Scholar
  11. Freud, S. (1914). Remembering, repeating and working through. In J. Strachey (Ed.), Standard Edition, Vol. 2. London: Rogarth Press, 1955.Google Scholar
  12. Freud, S. (1937). Analyses terminable and interminable. In J. Strachey (Ed.), Standard Edition, Vol. 23. London: Hogarth Press, 1964.Google Scholar
  13. French, T. & Wheeler, D. R. Hope and repudiation of hope in psychoanalytic therapy. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1963, 44:304–316.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gottschalk, L. & Gleser, G. The measurement of psychological states through the content analysis of verbal behavior. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  15. Graff, H. & Luborsky, L. Long-term trends in transference and resistance: A quantitative analytic method applied to four psychoanalyses. Journal of the Psychoanalytic Association, in press.Google Scholar
  16. Hoehn-Saric, R., Frank, J., Imber, S., Nash, E., Stone, A., & Battle, C. Systematic preparation of patients for psychotherapy. 1. Effects on therapy behavior and outcome. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1964, 2:267–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Horowitz, L. M., Sampson, H., Siegelman, E., Wolfson, A., & Weiss, J. On the identification of warded-off mental contents. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1975, 84:545–558.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kelly, G. A. The psychology of personal construct, Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1955.Google Scholar
  19. Kernberg, O., Burstein, E., Coyne, L., Appelbaum, A., Horowitz, L., & Voth, H. Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis: Final report of the Menninger Foundations Psychotherapy Research Project. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 1972, 36:1–275.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Luborsky, L. Momentary forgetting during psychotherapy and psychoanalysis: A theory and research method. In R. R. Holt (Ed.), Motives and thought: Psychoanalytic essays in honor of David Rapaport. New York: International Universities Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  21. Luborsky, L. Helping alliances in psychotherapy: The groundwork for a study of their relationship to its outcome. In J. L. Claghorn (Ed.), Successful psychotherapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel, in press. (a)Google Scholar
  22. Luborsky, L. Curative factors in psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapies. In J. P. Brady, J. Mendels, M. Orne, & W. Rieger (Eds.), Psychiatry: Areas of promise and advancement. New York: Spectrum, in press. (b)Google Scholar
  23. Luborsky, L. & Auerbach, A. H. The symptom-context method: Quantitative studies of symptom formation in psychotherapy. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1969, 17:68–99.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Luborsky, L., Graff, H., Pulver, S., & Curtis, H. A clinical-quantitative examination of consensus on the concept of transference. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1973, 29:69–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luborsky, L., Crabtree, L., Curtis, H., Ruff, G., & Mintz, J. The concept “space” of transference for eight psychoanalysts. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1975, 48:1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luborsky, L., Singer, B., & Luborsky, Lise. Comparative studies of psychotherapies: Is it true that “Everybody has won and all must have prizes?” Archives of General Psychiatry, 1975, 32:995–1008.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Luborsky, L. & Mintz, J. Psychotherapy: Who benefits and how. (Book in progress.)Google Scholar
  28. Malan, D. H. A study of brief psychotherapy. London: Tavistock Publishing, 1963.Google Scholar
  29. Marsden, G. Content analysis studies of psychotherapy: 1954 through 1968. In A. Bergin & S. Garfield (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change. New York: Wiley, 1971.Google Scholar
  30. Mayman, M. Early memories and character structure. Journal of Projective Techniques, 1968, 32:303–316.Google Scholar
  31. Mayman, M. & Faris, M. Early memories as expressions of relationship paradigms. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1960, 30:507–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mitchell, K., Bozarth, J., Truax, C., & Krauft, C. Antecedents to psychotherapeutic change. An NIMH Final Report, MH 12306, March, 1973.Google Scholar
  33. Murray, H. A. Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1938.Google Scholar
  34. Orne, M. & Wender, P. Anticipatory socialization for psychotherapy: Method and rationale. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1968, 124: 88–98.Google Scholar
  35. Pfeffer, A. The meaning of the analyst after analyses: A contribution to the theory of therapeutic results. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1963, 11:229–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rogers, C. R. The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1957, 21: 95–103.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rogers, C. R. & Dymond, R. F. Psychotherapy and personality change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954.Google Scholar
  38. Rosenzweig, S. Some implicit common factors in diverse methods of psychotherapy. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1936, 6:412–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sampson, H., Weiss, J., Mlodnovsky, L., & House, E. Defense analyses and the emergence of warded-off mental contents: An empirical study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1972, 26:524–532.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schlessinger, N. & Robbins, F. The psychoanalytic process: Recurrent patterns of conflict and changes in ego. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1975, 23:761–782.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sifneos, P. E. Short-term psychotherapy and emotional crisis. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lester Luborsky
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations