Sunday, March 11, 2007

"…to turn neurotic misery into common unhappiness."

A current article in the NYT covers a published study putting Freud's therapy to the test (Abstract here - note the title characterizing the study, "randomized, controlled" - I've no clue on "blindness"). The NYT article opens with a good discussion surrounding the interplay of "theory" (Freud's in this case) and research:

The field of psychoanalysis has struggled (questioning) whether to subject the therapy to rigorous testing...This...debate has raged even as analysis, Freud’s open-ended talking cure, has become increasingly marginalized as a practice...Last week, a team of New York analysts published the first scientifically rigorous study of a short-term variation of the therapy for panic disorder, a very common form of anxiety. The study was small, but the therapy proved to be surprisingly effective in a group of severely disabled people.

If the theory can't pass a test, eventually nobody cares. So they're putting it to the test. Freudian therapy hopefully results in "insight" - (becoming) "aware of the source of the emotion, of the original traumatic event" - here's what (theoretically) happens:

One former patient treated with this therapy began to have panic attacks after witnessing a young woman die of an illness...The patient...described the death as deeply unfair, and in (therapy) sessions explored perceptions of unfairness in her work and her life, including her childhood. "Once she was able to understand this pattern, the panic became less frightening, she felt safer and was eventually able to get rid of the symptoms"

First posted at Psyche Killer qu'est que c'est on 2/7/07

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