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April 1965

Myths in the Practice Of Psychotherapy

Author Affiliations

Veterans Administration Hospital, West Haven, Conn. Chief Psychiatry Service and Associate Clinical Professor, Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1965;12(4):408-414. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1965.01720340080012

THE PRACTICE of clinical medicine has been subject throughout its history to the influences of clinical myths. These myths consist of clinical principles and practices which although seemingly rational at their inception, even proven "true" according to existent criteria, nevertheless, were proven subsequently in the test of time and clinical experience to be worthless or even harmful.1,2

Clinical psychiatry seems even more than other specialties to be vulnerable to the formation of clinical myths due to vexing problems of control and validation in psychiatric research. These myths take the form of unproven assertions about practice which erroneously have become regarded as clinical facts. They are, essentially, empirical propositions never put to the test.3 At least once each decade psychiatry should reexamine its premises, theories, and practices to decide which to retain and which to discard. Particularly insidious are those myths which

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