Interpretation in a Non-Therapeutic Setting: Psychoanalytic Research Today
Psychoanalytic research and therapy are traditionally part of the same process, occurring within the psychoanalyst-patient treatment dyad. However, the conjunction of research and cure has become a matter of debate among some psychoanalysts in recent years (Dreher 2000: 42). This paper demonstrates the application of psychoanalytic theory to research that is unrelated to therapy. The insights of psychoanalysis were used in a study which explored the impact of nurses’ unconscious mental processes on their work with patients. The method used was a qualitative collective case study. An outline of this approach and the rationale for choosing this research design will be presented in the paper. The classical principles of psychoanalysis, which include free association and the analyst’s neutrality, were adapted to suit the research interview and will be discussed in some detail. This non-therapeutic psychoanalytic interview has been found to be a fruitful research method which generated rich material from which to draw interpretive understandings of the participants’ inner world. A description will be given of how the research material was analysed, including the importance of detail in the transcription, the use of computer assisted qualitative analysis software, coding, and the interpretation of the material using psychoanalytic theory.
Keywords: Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Research, Non-Therapeutic Psychoanalytic Interview, Psychoanalytic Theory, Unconscious Mental Processes, Free Association, Transference and Countertransference, Qualitative Case Study, Nursing Work, Nurse-Patient Relationship
Gabrielle O' Kelly
Lecturer, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Sciences, University College Dublin
Prof. Bernard Cullen
Professor of Philosophy, Department Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast