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Books, Journals, New Media
October 4, 2000

Psychoanalysis: Does Psychoanalysis Work?

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 2000;284(13):1712-1713. doi:10.1001/jama.284.13.1712-JBK1004-2-1

To Sigmund Freud, the psychoanalysis that he brought into being just over a century ago was clearly a biologically rooted natural science within the framework of the physicalist-physiological tenets of the Helmholtz school of medicine in which he was raised, and it had its proper place in the then differentiating array of biological sciences. Yet curiously, Freud had a strong aversion to efforts at systematic empirical research into psychoanalytic propositions. Responding in the 1930s to Saul Rosenzweig, a US psychologist, who had written to him that he had experimentally confirmed some psychoanalytic concepts, Freud said that psychoanalysis had no need of such studies, since its conceptions had been amply established by repeated observations in the clinical psychoanalytic situation, though, of course, such efforts as Rosenzweig's could do no harm. This dismissive stance toward empirical research by the founder of psychoanalysis has had, over the 100-year history of this discipline, a powerful inhibitory effect upon the development of the systematic research so central to the incremental knowledge advance of any science, psychoanalysis included.