First of all, we would like to state that when we talk about psychotherapy, we are practically using it as a synonym of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, where "psychoanalytic" and "psychoanalysis" are two terms which we strongly suggest not be taken for granted, particularly nowadays when the proliferation of psychoanalytic-oriented schools is so vast and pervasive within our Occidental Society, that it becomes hard to know, let alone accurately to define what psychotherapeutic practice we are dealing with. Hence, psychoanalysis and its forms of psychotherapy will be thoroughly discussed on this website.
And what we may mean by "developmental"? Practically every psychological school has its own theory of psychological development, for instance, confront Freud's views about the development of the libido phases with Melanie Klein's assertions about schizo-paranoid and depressive positions.
However, it seems that an author could hold principles regarding a theory of psychological development while using only part, if at all, during treatment, of the said developmental theory; this is actually rare, for Mahlerians, e.g., will tend to understand their patients woes as regressions to autism and symbiosis, Bionians as a departure from K, and an attempt to use the mental apparatus as if it were a cathartic muscle, and so on. Furthermore, since any psychological theory has either coined or adopted a theory of normal and psychopathological development, and heavily rely on it to build up both a theory of mental health and ill-health and the contents of its approach within the actual field of psychotherapeutical practice, it will be our contention throughout that such a theory will influence what the therapist actually says to his patient and thereby the effects of such therapies in actual practice.
We contend that all such theories of human psychological development sustain an inescapable flaw: they cannot be refuted simply because they have no empirical grounds. The method all of them use is speculation and extrapolation from present symptoms to normal development during infancy. That is, they are epistemologically retrospective in nature.
Our approach, contrastingly, is prospective. We set out to observe mother-infant interactions from birth onwards, study those baby-mother interactions -in terms that forthcoming articles will shed light on- describe them and categorize them, predicting which interactions will probably generate psychopathology by a steady follow-up during years. We rely heavily on Bowlby's and Mary Ainsworth's studies (as well as our own observations) to assert that no psychotherapy can be practiced without a good theory of early psychological development. (As Jules Henri Poincare wittily put it: "Nothing is more practical than a good theory").
Albeit a psychological community consensus has not as yet been reached concerning the scientific status of the multifarious theoretical frameworks still spawning the world -a feature Thomas Kuhn (1962) would label a stage of "protoscience"- it would not seem irrational to talk about a scientific approach to a theory of human behaviour. But even if we accept scientific approaches to human behaviour are available, which would mean they are liable to be taught and pass from person to person in a more or less unaltered way, as natural science does, we would still be at a loss about what to do with them, how to use or implement them functionally to improve reality: how to help the mentally deranged.
With regard to this last remark, I am afraid we are still in our infancy. Adopting a benevolent view as regards the state-of-the-art concerning psychotherapy, the most we can do flawlessly to qualify the practice and its practicioners, is to earmark them as artisans. The best we can do right at present is to could agree with Bowlby's assertion (1991) in that psychoanalysis should be viewed as an art and as a science.
Unfortunately, psychotherapy can only be carried out tailor-made, theoretical generalizations are totally out of place at a psychotherapist's consulting-room. For the time being, since every and each patient faces us with widely different problems, we try to understand his particular situation, but cannot help resort to our theoretical generalizable conceptualizations. And as mentioned above, there is little consensus which ideas are shared by all the scientific community. This lack of consensus; moreover, this constant fight about fundamentals, renders psychotherapy, and for that matter, any discipline, non-scientific.
Even though psychoanalysis has fallen in disgrace amongst both most intellectual and lay circles, we find we cannot do without a thorough critique of the principles underlying the present psychotherapeutic crisis. This we will be uploading shortly.
BACK TO PARENT DIRECTORY <<<