Eagle M.N. & Wolinsky D.L. (2011) Pro e contro la ricerca empirica (dibattito sul J.Amer.Psychoanal.Assn. )

Fra le reazioni all’articolo di Hoffman si segnala l’articolata risposta di M.N.Eagle e D.L.Wolitzky pubblicata nel n° 4, 2011 del J.Amer.Psychoanal.Assn. (59/4: 791-817)

Systematic empirical research versus clinical case studies: a valid antagonism? 

Eagle & Wolitzky condividono con Hoffman l’esigenza di non trattare con entusiasmo eccessivo e acritico le ricerche empiriche e riconoscono che le questioni da lui affrontate hanno implicazioni importanti per il futuro della psicoanalisi. Dopo aver contestato una per una le sue argomentazioni – e in particolare quella secondo cui le ricerche empiriche danneggiano la psicoanalisi e ‘disseccano’ l’esperienza umana – i due autori discutono meriti, e soprattutto limiti, del metodo utilizzato per l’avanzamento della conoscenza psicoanalitica: il metodo basato su resoconti clinici presentati in forma narrativa a sostegno e illustrazione di un’ipotesi teorica e/o clinica.

Per continuare a considerare utile e valido questo metodo il materiale clinico, sostengono Eagle e Wolitzky (ib., p.808), dovrebbe avere queste caratteristiche:

1. The ratio of theory to data is reasonable; i.e., there is not an excessive amount or theory superimposed on some fragment of data.

2. Observation is clearly separated from inference in the case report.

3. Alternative and rival hypotheses are considered seriously and the reasons for rejecting them presented.

4. The case report is relatively free of jargon.

5. The case report illuminates a phenomenon, justifies a particular technical approach or innovation, or argues cogently for an improved conceptualization of a familiar phenomenon.

6. Verbatim accounts are included when feasible.

7. The case formulation is internally consistent and coherent.

8. The report is sparse and tentative with respect to etiological claims.

9. Issues of generalizability are considered carefully.

10. The report is not based on a fictionalized case or a composite of several cases.

11. The author’s theoretical orientation and preferences are clearly stated.

12. It is demonstrated that the inferences grow out of the material and are not imposed prematurely on the clinical observations, even if the vignette is selected to advance a particular point of view.

13. Caution is evident in cause-and-effect claims regarding the patient’s dynamics.

14. Caution is evident in cause-and-effect claims regarding childhood causes of current problems.

15. The report reflects evidence of the author’s having read and absorbed the cogent points in Meehl’s “Why I Do Not Attend Case Conferences” (1973).

16. There is independent confirmation of some of the claims made.

17. There is follow-up information on the case that bears on some of the assertions put forward.

18. The author recognizes the issue of base rates; e.g., if it is alleged that a stalemate in a lengthy analysis was broken by a countertransference selfdisclosure, the author states how often such self-disclosures did not seem to make a difference and perhaps offers some hypotheses in this regard (we also would need to know how often a stalemate is broken in the absence of countertransference-based self-disclosure).

19. The case study allows us to reject or disconfirm a psychoanalytic hypothesis.

Per un ulteriore approfondimento del dibattito v. il resoconto di P.Migone nella sezione di Psychomedia dedicata alle attività del Rapaport-Klein Study-Group.