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CAPTP Talk: Where’s the Evidence? A Psychoanalytic Response

Date: Mar 22, 2017 8:00 pm

The Frieda Fromm-Reichmann Graduate Society of the Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Program William Alanson White Institute


Where’s the Evidence? A Psychoanalytic Response

Presenter: Pascal Sauvayre, Ph.D.


It is already an arduous task to confront the uncertainty and ambiguity of psychoanalytic work with children and adults, but when it is combined with the impact of external attacks and of reports of its alleged death, this anxiety mushrooms, particularly for candidates, into a paralyzing ‘not-knowing-what-one-is-doing’ experience. The decline of psychoanalysis is thought to be rooted in Karl Popper’s claim that it fails to meet the minimal standard of generating hypotheses ‘falsifiable’ by ‘evidence’, thereby disqualifying it from scientific discourse.


The main goal of this paper is to rehabilitate psychoanalysis into scientific discourse by revisiting the concepts of falsifiability and evidence to fit with psychoanalysis’ defining object, the unconscious. A secondary goal will then be to encroach on ‘evidence based’ territory (exemplified by CBT) and show that the psychoanalytic object and method are embedded in some of its basic concepts and practices.


It is hoped that a greater appreciation of the robustness of psychoanalytic ‘evidence’ (neither by chasing after the quantitative certainty of outcome studies nor by seeking the justification of neuroscience but by affirming its inherent ambiguity and uncertainty) will unburden us, a bit, in order to better focus on the (interminable) apprenticeship that is psychoanalysis.


Dr. Sauvayre is a faculty member and supervising analyst at the William Alanson White Institute, and co-executive editor of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He is in private practice in New York City.


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This is an invitation to explore and consider the many ways of thinking about the treatment of children, adolescents and their families. How do we understand the person before us? What is helpful in the short-term? What produces lasting and meaningful change? We will consider developmental, neuroscientific, and psychoanalytic approaches to understanding the meaning of symptomatic behaviors.


Upcoming Talks
4/26/17 5/24/17
Ken Barish, Ph.D. Michael Garrett, Ph.D. Constance Katz, Ph.D.