Feature

Once one of the most influential schools of psychology, psychoanalysis today is somewhat out of the mainstream.

However, new Psychoanalytic Psychology Editor Elliot Jurist, PhD, maintains that psychoanalytic perspectives provide fertile ground for research.

"We are becoming more receptive to the empirical work that is going on in other subfields of psychology, and it is my hope that what we publish in the journal over the next years will be of interest to a wide range of clinical psychologists," he says.

In fact, Jurist says, many aspects of psychoanalysis have been assimilated into mainstream psychology as much as they have been rejected. "I think there are some abiding things that make a lot of sense, such as the influence of early development in the unfolding of character, mind and self, and specifically, the influence of how parental styles are internalized," he says.

Jurist also plans to highlight that the psychoanalytic point of view offers something distinctive and valid to the field. He believes that one of psychoanalytic therapy's great merits is that it aims to treat not just symptoms, but the whole person. In his own work, in his private practice in New York City, he has encountered many patients who feel turned off by therapists who provide generic answers, without getting to know them sufficiently. Jurist says that psychoanalytic clinicians are highly sensitive to and respectful of the patient's subjective experience and are wary of their role as experts who know what is best for the patient.

Hoping to appeal to an audience beyond the confines of Div. 39 (Psychoanalysis), Jurist plans to publish research and demonstrate that there are people doing research on psychoanalysis that's worth psychology's attention. He also plans to focus on the future of psychoanalysis, an important issue to the division and journal.

He wants to publish examples of serious thinking, regardless of whether the manuscripts present empirical research, he says.

"It's not so much that I want to defend a psychoanalytic point of view, it's about presenting serious and rigorous ideas about doing clinical work," he explains. "I think that there is a downside of just imagining that research automatically provides a guide for practice."