NCSPP

Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology

PRESIDENT'S REMARKS: ANDREW HARLEM, PH.D.

It wasn't long ago that psychoanalytic practitioners, when confronted with the evidence produced by a research paradigm resting firmly on the triad of dogmatic positivism, pharmaceutical-company financing, and insurance company interests, had few rhetorical options other than the sort of epistemological, humanistic, and common sense arguments that, these days, only seem to make the unpopular more unpopular.

Well, for better or worse, no longer can we so easily be held prisoner to our integrity and wisdom. Thanks to blessed colleagues who have ventured into unfriendly lands, lived among the natives, learned the language well, and lived to tell about it, each of us can, if we so choose, enter the debate (in the classroom, in the consulting room, in the press room, and even in the family room) with the tools of the trade. Keep it quiet, please, lest we disturb the equilibrium, but there is robust and quickly accumulating evidence - the sort that has mainstream currency - that psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy are, as our patients and we already know, quite helpful.

As you may have heard elsewhere, the upcoming February-March 2010 issue of American Psychologist will feature Jonathan Shedler's "The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy", a meta-analysis that provides strong support for the efficacy of psychodynamic treatment. This study accords with the findings of another meta-analysis published in 2008 by the Journal of the American Medical Association ("The Effectiveness of Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy", by Falk Leichsenring and Sven Rabung; also see commentary in The New York Times). While, in fact, these studies are just two of many (interested readers may want to review the comprehensive list compiled by the American Psychoanalytic Association), they are distinguished by their publication in decidedly mainstream journals.

I, for one, am looking forward to playing with my new tools. That said, if you happen to catch me hopelessly plying away at a screw with my thumbs, let me be. It helps me remember the real work.

Andrew Harlem, Ph.D.
NCSPP President