History of the Psychoanalytic Research Consortium


In May 1986 one of the leaders in scientific study of recorded psychoanalytic sessions, Hartvig Dahl, came to the Committee on Scientific Activities of the American Psychoanalytic Association in order to discuss his concern about the ultimate disposition of tapes and other related materials which had been collected for research purposes during psychoanalyses. He felt that such tapes, including the ones in his possession, were a valuable resource to our field, but that individuals such as himself had nowhere to leave such materials, either upon their deaths or retirement from active professional activities.

ulm_minsterThis idea was very exciting and discussed by many psychoanalysts at the Annual meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  Some of these meetings were held in Europe in inspiring settings, adding to the feeling of an auspicious beginning. From this beginning, a year and a half period of consideration by the Committee on Scientific Activities (CSA) followed. Sherwood Waldron Jr. led the effort, in view of his experience in collecting and presenting taped analytic material for scientific purposes. George Klumpner had previously led the CSA in formulating a statement on the ethics of such scientific research. On matters of ethics, we also had helpful suggestions from Donald Burnham, Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the American Psychoanalytic, as well as from Jerome Biegler, Chairman of the Committee on Confidentiality.

The matter became more urgent when the health problems of a major researcher in the field led him to turn to one of our committee for suggestions as to ultimate disposal of his recordings. The committee members concluded that a Consortium would best be established as an independent entity, as establishment was not feasible in a short time under auspices of the American. The PRC was formed with eight directors, Alice Brand Bartlett, Robert Galatzer-Levy, Leonard Horwitz, George Klumpner, Lester Luborsky, Nancy Miller, Sherwood Waldron Jr. and Robert Wallerstein. Five were members of the CSA during the initial deliberations, and three others were invited to join. Bartlett was able to arrange for processing and storage of donated materials at the Menninger Clinic, where she is Associate Dean of Information/Media. The materials remain the property of the PRC.

The Fund for Psychoanalytic Research of the American Psychoanalytic Association provided a grant in 1989 for organizational costs. Forms for gifts and bequests, agreement forms with potential researchers, and consent forms were established. Tax exempt status as a public charitable organization was provisionally approved in September, 1989 and granted permanent status in 1994.

In 1994, the Board of Directors decided that the PRC needed to extend its involvement to all aspects of psychoanalytic efficacy research, whereas previously its goals had been limited to data collection, preservation and distribution. The Directors felt this broadening could be accomplished if the PRC were directed by psychoanalysts who were actively pursuing the use of tape recorded sessions to assess the efficacy of psychoanalysis. To this end, the Board appointed two new directors from the Analytic Process Scales (APS) Research Group. The APS group has spent the past more than twenty-five years developing rating scales which give increasingly reliable results in rating crucial dimensions of psychoanalyses. In past studies, either experienced analysts were not used; or samples of analytic work studied have been too short for raters to develop sufficient understanding of the process; or recorded material has been studied which is not representative of actual analytic work carried out by experienced clinicians; or the time invested in development of reliable rating scales has been insufficient. The research group consists of senior analysts, consists of senior analysts, mostly PRC Board Members, with the addition of Robert Scharf, who played a most important role in developing our APS coding manual.  The PRC has gradually been expanded to include psychoanalysts from more diverse psychoanalytic institutions.  These have included the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (Seymour Moscowitz), the Contemporary Freudian Society and the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (Fonya Helm), the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis (Francesco), and Division 39 of the American Psychological Association (Karl Stukenberg, Woody Waldron, Lissa Weinstein, Jeremy Safran, and Fonya Helm).

The PRC has continued to supply materials to interested research groups around the country, including the APS research group itself, and has support the use of its materials to study how to enhance the effectiveness of psychoanalytic treatments.