January 1975

Psychoanalysis, "Focal Psychotherapy," and the Nature of the Therapeutic Influence

Author Affiliations

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

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(1):127-135. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760190129014

It has traditionally been asserted that the nature of the therapeutic influence in psychoanalysis is qualitatively different from that in "psychotherapy." This thesis is considered untenable.

Analysis of a case history by Balint, Ornstein, and Balint shows evidence that therapeutic change can be conceptualized more parsimoniously along lines other than those traditionally preferred. The therapist establishes himself as a good parent or authority figure visa-vis the patient, and within that context mediates important lessons in nonneurotic constructive living. Given strong motivation to seek change, the patient is won over to a point of view different from the one that has, in essential respects, guided his life in the past, and he has to make these teachings his own. Analytic therapy is an education for optimal personal freedom in the context of social living.