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Should Psychoanalysis Include Pharmacology

pillsCurrent care for mental health often involves a combination of behavioral psychotherapy in conjunction with medical care driven pharmacology. In fact, given the preponderance of pharmacology in our society, if an individual is not receiving medication, they often ask their psychoanalysts about pharmacotherapy.

As a result, psychoanalysts can be caught in the crossfire of a debate about the potential benefits and drawbacks of including medication in their treatment plans.

The topic is subject to a panel discussion entitled, “The Uses of Medications in Psychoanalysis: What We Know; What is Uncertain,” and will be led by internationally renowned psychoanalyst Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., at the American Psychoanalytic Association’s 2008 Winter Meeting.

The panel discussion will be held onFriday, January 18, 2008, from 2-5 p.m. at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

Taking the position for a cautious approach to the inclusion of medications in analysis will be Stephen D. Purcell, M.D., whose paper entitled, “The Analyst’s Attitude toward Pharmacotherapy” will be published in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association(JAPA) in 2008.

Adele Tutter, M.D., Ph.D., is more optimistic about the inclusion of medications in treatment and her article, “Medication as Object,” was published in JAPA. The panel discussion will be chaired by Richard M. Gottlieb, M.D., and the discussant will be Dr.Gabbard.

“Instead of perceiving the use of medications in competition with analysis, we should educate our patients about the potential costs and benefits of including medication in an analytic treatment. Then, patients can make informed decisions about their treatment options,” says Dr. Tutter.

“While we analysts value insight and introspection, some patients don’t value these things and should be allowed to choose.”

“I’m not taking the position that combined treatments that include medication and analysis should not be done. Instead, I believe they must be considered very carefully,” says Dr. Purcell.

“An analyst’s decision to combine medication with a psychoanalysis is also a tacit communication that under some circumstances can be an interference to psychoanalytic processes of change.”

Source: American Psychoanalytic Association

Should Psychoanalysis Include Pharmacology

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Should Psychoanalysis Include Pharmacology. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from
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Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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