Integration of psychoanalytic concepts in the formulation and management of hospitalized psychiatric patients
Although psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy have flourished theoretically and in practice for an increasingly widespread population of patients, the mental health professions have in recent decades experienced a hegemony of managed care, a preoccupation with pharmacological approaches at the expense of psychological approaches, and a predilection for brief symptom-focused, more easily researchable manualized psychotherapies, in spite of literature demonstrating the effective contribution of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic thought to the practice of the mental health professions. In this article a psychiatric inpatient is considered from the point of view of what psychodynamic theory can offer practically to understanding and managing her. It is not suggested that this patient might necessarily benefit from formal psychodynamic psychotherapy, but rather that incorporation of a psychodynamic understanding of her can lead to a more effective management approach, especially regarding dealing with staff reactions to disturbing patients. Consideration of the patient's personality and recognition of the patient's having a comorbid personality disorder appeared important in her management, and have practical implications regarding staff members' understanding of the patient and the consequent identification and handling of transference and countertransference manifestations. Problems that are likely to occur as enactments on the inpatient unit can more readily be anticipated or identified earlier and a consistent staff approach prepared. A psychodynamically informed management approach on the inpatient unit can help to anticipate challenging interpersonal experiences such as enactments. Psychodynamic thought has developed in a manner so as to be applicable in an increasingly wide range of clinical situations, not only in terms of the varieties of patients who are deemed to be able to benefit from psychodynamic treatment per se, but also regarding the clinical venues in which psychodynamic concepts can be usefully applied.