Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This theoretical study explores the role of psychodynamic psychotherapy in the treatment of schizophrenia in an era where biologically oriented psychopharmacological interventions are the dominant treatment model. The study was undertaken as an effort towards clarification, as a graduate student from a psychodynamic training program, of how my training might possess or lack efficacy or application in my future work with those living with schizophrenia. Psychodynamic and biological perspectives on schizophrenia etiology and treatment have, throughout history, remained predominantly in opposition to one another. Currently neither perspective is able to fully explain the origins of schizophrenia, nor is the biologically-based treatment system adequately supporting the recovery of a large percentage of those with this diagnosis. A review of the literature from biological and psychodynamic perspectives shows that the rationale for the current unfavorable position of psychodynamic psychotherapy as a supplemental treatment for schizophrenia comes primarily from a lack of research, confusion about technique, and fear surrounding psychogenic theories of schizophrenia etiology. Although far more research into psychodynamic psychotherapy with schizophrenia needs to occur, these interventions are difficult to study and do not provide the evidence-based criteria that is essential within the current managed care mental health model. However, the success of alternative treatment programs which utilize dynamic interventions, as well as continued evidence of the role of stress and trauma in exacerbating genetic vulnerabilities to schizophrenia, suggest that there may be an increased role for psychodynamic perspectives and interventions in the future of schizophrenia treatment.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. iii, 131 p. Includes bibliographical references (p. 108-131)