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Informed Consent to Psychoanalysis: The Law, the Theory, and the Data

Informed Consent to Psychoanalysis: The Law, the Theory, and the Data

by Elyn R. Saks, Shahrokh Golshan


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The goal of this book is to shed psychoanalytic light on a concept—informed consent—that has transformed the delivery of health care in the United States.

Examining the concept of informed consent in the context of psychoanalysis, the book first summarizes the law and literature on this topic. Is informed consent required as a matter of positive law? Apart from statutes and cases, what do the professional organizations say about this?

Second, the book looks at informed consent as a theoretical matter. It addresses such questions as: What would be the elements of a robust informed consent in psychoanalysis? Is informed consent even possible here? Can patients really understand, say, transference or regression before they experience them, and is it too late once they have? Is informed consent therapeutic or countertherapeutic? Can a “process view” of informed consent make sense here?

Third, the book reviews data on the topic. A lengthy questionnaire answered by sixty-two analysts reveals their practices in this regard. Do they obtain a statement of informed consent from their patients? What do they disclose? Why do they disclose it? Do they think it is possible to obtain informed consent in psychoanalysis at all? Do they think the practice is therapeutic or countertherapeutic, and in what ways? Do they think there should or should not be an informed consent requirement for psychoanalysis?

The book should appeal above all to therapists interested in the ethical dimensions of their practice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823249770
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 02/19/2013
Series: Psychoanalytic Interventions
Pages: 142
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Elyn R. Saks is Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; on the faculty of the New Center for Psychoanalysis; and Director of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics. She is author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness and a MacArthur Fellow.

Shahrokh Golshan is a Project Scientist in the University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Methodology, Biostatistics and Data Management Unit for the Advanced Center for Innovation in Services and Intervention Research.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Law and Literature on Informed Consent 5

2 Analysis of the Concept of Informed Consent: The Theory 24

3 Empirical Study: Methods and Results 51

4 Empirical Study: Discussion 65

5 Limitations of Our Study and Directions for Future Research 80

Afterword: Our Own View 86

Conclusion 91


A Ethics Codes: Informed Consent Provisions 95

B Statutes and Regulations on Informed Consent to Psychotherapy 98

C The Survey Instrument: Informed Consent to Psychoanalysis 103

References 119

Index 125

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