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August 1969

Toward a Specification of Teaching and Learning in Psychotherapy

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn
From the Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(2):203-212. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740200075011

IN ONE OF his last papers, Alexander1 commented on the remarkable fact that very few changes in the intricate procedure of psychoanalytic therapy have occurred since its guiding principles were formulated by Freud between 1912 and 1915. He asked: "Is it due to the perfection of the standard procedure which because of its excellence does not require reevaluation and improvement, or does it have some other cultural rather than scientific reason?" Alexander's career as a psychotherapist and his contributions to the problem of therapeutic technique bear eloquent testimony that any formulations cannot possibly be the final word in science; to act as if they were can only result in stultification of progress. While admitting that "Almost all statements concerning technique could be legitimately only highly tentative," Alexander noted that the essential psychodynamic principles of analytic therapy rest on solid observational foundations, which he

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