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THE CHALLENGE OF RESULTS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY
IAN STEVENSON
Am J Psychiatry 1959;116:120-123.
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Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Univ. of Virginia. Charlottesville, Va.

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Abstract

I believe these simple rules within our means if within our desires. We should hardly ask less of ourselves if we ask others to consider us scientists when we teach and practice psychotherapy. We can and should learn much about psychotherapy through other studies besides those of results. Yet we can only judge a therapy as therapy by its results and not by its attendant retinue of theories, however elegant and harmonious these may seem to be. Some years ago, Glover sounded a solemn warning on this matter with regard to psychoanalysis when he stated,In my opinion, the main obstacle to the progress of psychoanalysis is the absence, first of reliable statistics of results, and, second, of any followup investigations. . . . Unless we know with some precision the exact limitations of psychoanalysis in different groups of mental disorder, we run the risk of providing new theories to explain away failures(16).These reproaches apply equally to all kinds of psychotherapy. Their truth and the urgency which underlies them should stimulate us to remove the justification for them which derives from our continued neglect of the results of psychotherapy.

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