PCC is delighted to welcome Dr. Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber of the German Psychoanalytic Society as our featured speaker for a scientific meeting on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm at the PCC conference center. Dr. Leuzinger-Bohleber will offer her presentation, “The Richness of Contemporary Psychoanalytic Research: Epistemological and Methodological Remarks and Some Examples.”
It is well known that Freud hoped that the time would come in which the insights of psychoanalysis based on pure psychological, clinical-empirical methods of observation could also be “objectively” examined with the “hard” methods of natural science. German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, writing in 1968, strongly disagreed with this idea and called Freud’s longing the “scientistic misunderstanding” of psychoanalysis. Habermas said that a distinction should be made between human sciences that have an emancipatory interest in insight characteristic of psychoanalysis (“Humanwissenschaft”) and natural sciences that have a technical interest that is more in line with behavioral and positivistic approaches (“Wissenschaft”). This distinction was embraced by a whole generation of psychoanalysts and was at its zenith in the 1970’s and 1980’s. During this period, empirical and especially quantitative research in psychoanalysis and the dialogue with the natural sciences were considered by many to be naïve and not fitting for psychoanalysis, even to the point of being harmful.
However, in the past 30 years, the zeitgeist has changed in many countries, including the United States and western European countries. There has been a paradigm shift to “evidence-based medicine” as well as to medical guidelines governing mental health treatment. As a result, there has been a growing impression that there is only one form of legitimate research for psychoanalysis, namely empirical-quantitative research. This is, by closer inspection, a strange re-occurrence of an outdated and problematic idea of a “unified science” (“Einheitswissenschaft”), an unconscious simplification of the complexities of research which also involves certain dangers for psychoanalysis.
As the co-editor and co-chair of the IPA’s Open Door Review of Outcome and Process Studies in Psychoanalysis (3rd edition, 2015), Dr. Leuzinger-Bohleber is highly knowledgeable about the various approaches that have been used in recent psychoanalytic research. In this presentation, she will make a plea for the creative use of a broad spectrum of research strategies, both quantitative and qualitative. Using a diagram of clinical and extra-clinical research in psychoanalysis, she will identify the different strategies that can be utilized. In addition, she will offer several examples from her own ongoing psychoanalytical research projects.
By way of introduction, let me share with you that Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, Ph.D. is the former director in charge of the Sigmund-Freud-Institute in Frankfurt a.M., Germany (2001-2016) and professor emeritus for psychoanalysis at the University of Kassel. She is training and supervision analyst of the German Psychoanalytical Association and former member of the Swiss Psychoanalytical Society. From 2001-2009, she served as Chair of the IPA’s Research Subcommittee for Conceptual Research and, since 2009 , she has served as Vice Chair for Europe of the Research Board for the IPA. She is engaged in the editorial board of several journals. In 2016, she received the IPA’s prestigious Mary Sigourney Award.
Dr. Leuzinger-Bohleber attempts to integrate clinical and extra-clinical research in psychoanalysis. Additional research fields are psychoanalytical developmental research, prevention studies, interdisciplinary dialogue between psychoanalysis and literature, educational sciences and the neurosciences. She has published numerous articles and authored or edited 50 books. Currently she is responsible for several large research projects including the multi-centric LAC Depression study (comparing the efficacy of psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral interventions); the EVA Study (evaluation of psychoanalytic prevention projects for “children- at-risk”); FIRST STEPS (a prevention project for migrant families); and STEP-BY-STEP (a pilot project for supporting refugees in a first arrival institution).
As PCC’s continuing education chair, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Leuzinger-Bohleber present her work at a pre-conference workshop at the IPA’s 2015 Congress in Boston, designed specifically for the scientific program chairs of societies around the world. She is an outstanding, clear, and passionate speaker, and it is a personal pleasure to bring her to PCC. This visit is coordinated with her trip to the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis where she will receive the Haskell Norman Prize for Excellence in Psychoanalysis.
Jennifer Kunst, PhD
August 23, 2017