Lay Versus Medical Analysis: A Conflict Centered on the Disciplinary and Professional Identity of Psychoanalysis

Sam Yoder, Portland State University

Note: This thesis is only available to students, staff and faculty at Portland State University.


In 1985, a group of four psychologists, on the behalf of a declared class of several thousand psychologists, filed a class action lawsuit against the APsaA with the charge of promoting a conspiracy to disallow non-physicians from gaining access to psychoanalytic training. These psychologists claimed that the APsaA was in direct violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Eventually, the lawsuit was settled in 1988 in the favor of the psychologists. 1 This lawsuit was the resolution of a conflict that had plagued psychoanalysis for about sixty-five years. Starting in the 1920's, psychoanalysis was split by disagreements between lay and medical analysts. The conflict centered around whether psychoanalysts needed to have a medical degree to practice psychoanalysis, or if psychoanalysis was its own discipline and should not reside under medical regulation. In this paper, I explore and analyze the different arguments that were made in the conflict between lay and medical analysis. Using both primary and secondary source material on this topic, I show how this psychoanalytic conflict is an expression of two conflicting ideas for the disciplinary identity of psychoanalysis.