A retrospective account of a former bulimic patient: Rita Hettinger & Horst Kächele
Instrumentation in psychotherapy research requires psychometric instruments of increased refinement and audio-taped sessions or video-recordings; it may furthermore require the formalized use of the clinically trained perspective. Research interviewing, free interviewing by researchers recorded and evaluated by a group could serve as an intermediary between the clinicians and the structured techniques of the researchers. The basic idea consists of providing a therapy analogue situation to adequately evaluate the subjective experiences and recordable effects of psychotherapy.
The following is a former patient ́s retro report on her life experiences that ultimately led her to a successful psychoanalytic treatment. The open, extended interview was conducted by a female research psychologist (RH) and two female psychology students3. Before the interview the therapist (HK) only provided basic information to the research team; for this report he made some comments that are handled by way of concurrent footnoting.
The patient’s motives for agreeing to a research team evaluation may be due to the fact that she had experienced a series of “unsuccessful” therapeutic endeavours (“looking back in anger”) which was then followed by a satisfying therapeutic, psychoanalytic treatment with the senior author of this report4. Her description of her personal development points to a marked marital tension in the relationship of her parents with a strong, demanding and seducing father and a weak, caretaking mother that provided little help to the patient in developing a positive female identity.
The narratives about her various treatments convey the impressions that she responded negatively to pronounced, demanding therapeutic attitudes which did not allow her to create her subjective space for correcting developmental fixations. A positive therapeutic experience was created by using a patient-oriented psychoanalytic technique (Thomä & Kächele 1987) that allowed for her deep-seated mistrust to be alleviated.