Relation of Theory and Practice in Psychodynamic Therapy

  • Fonagy P
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Explores the role of theory in psychodynamic practice. This article attempts to show that clinicians commonly labor under the illusion that practice is governed by the logic of theory, by deduction rather than by induction. With psychoanalytic theory and practice as an example, theory is shown to be logically independent of practice and technique. It is suggested that maintaining the illusion of a logical relation between the two can cause a petrification of practice and ultimately the downfall of a theoretical orientation. Further, the inductive use of clinical experience can generate an excessive number of irreconcilable theoretical ideas, which in turn explains the tendency of psychodynamic clinicians to eschew operationalization and rigorous theory building. The abandonment of the pretense of a logical relation, by contrast, could lead to a renewed excitement about the development of technique.

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  • Peter Fonagy

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