Psychoanalytic Case Studies and the Pragmatic Case Study Method


  • Stanley B. Messer Rutgers -- The State University of New Jersey



psychoanalytic cases, psychoanalytic vignettes, single case studies


This article addresses the effort made in the Pragmatic Case Study (PCS) method to enhance the quality and rigor of knowledge gained from psychoanalytic single case studies. Five limitations of typical psychoanalytic case or vignette presentations are reviewed and the ways in which the PCS method attempts to improve upon them are highlighted. The limitations include: (1) reliance on the therapist's memory or brief notes; (2) selection of the data by the therapist alone; (3) the tendency to interpret case material in terms of reigning theoretical orthodoxy; (4) lack of available context to allow the reader to accept or refute the therapist's reading of the case: (5) restriction of the data source to the therapist alone. Despite the advantages of the PCS method over what is currently the norm for presenting psychoanalytic case material, there are ongoing challenges for the method if it is to be regarded as a scientific way of presenting evidence and using that evidence to modify theory.




How to Cite

Messer, S. B. (2007). Psychoanalytic Case Studies and the Pragmatic Case Study Method. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 3(1).