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Pills or talk?

Is psychoanalysis dead? Drugs and "cognitive therapies" are the new fashion, but advances in our understanding of the mind may have proved Freud right.

By Lewis Wolpert   November 1999

Dear Peter Fonagy

27th September 1999

The grandiose claims of psychoanalysis, and its subsidiary therapies, have never looked shakier. This is partly the result of the drip-effect of decades of criticism by real scientists, but also, more recently, the beneficial effect of pills such as Prozac and “cognitive” therapies, which focus on conscious as opposed to unconscious events. I am told that even in its American heartland analysis is in retreat in the face of these more effective alternatives.

But first, let me explain why I, like so many others, cannot take seriously psychoanalysis’s claim to scientific status. The…

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