Telematic Review

Area: Problems of Psychotherapy

--> Go to the column In search of the "true mechanism of action" of psychotherapy


    I am pleased to accept the invitation of being the editor of an Area in PSYCHOMEDIA concerned with psychotherapy. When I started thinking at the material I could publish in this area, soon I realized that any attempt at selecting the documents was not easy at all. Some pages of Robert Musil's book The Man without Qualities (1930) came immediately to my mind. In those pages Musil, with an extraordinary irony, makes fun of some attempts aimed at systematization of knowledge. Musil tells us how General Stumm von Bordwehr (by no coincidence, a military) comes up with his incredible project of writing down a catalogue of ideas:

    a sort of "big real-estate register of modern culture", with a detailed list of every thinker and his ideas, "an attempt at identifying the warehouses and arsenals where ideas are supplied", starting from the idea "that is, so to speak, the highest, the first one among all other ideas of the modern world"; everything should be "divided into square boxes with horizontal and vertical lines, like a flow chart or a military registry", also considering that "for a special gift of fate every idea has its own counter-idea", because "if someone says something, someone else says the opposite" (Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities [1930], Vol. 1, Part II ["The same things come back"], ch. 85 ["The efforts of General Stumm to put some order in the brains of the bourgeoisie"], pp. 359-363 - see these pages, that I have published in this area).

    Musil's acute irony was directed against the naive and grandiose expectations of a kind of science that at the beginning of the XXth century was rapidly expanding. But it could be very well suited also today, particularly to the complexity of psychotherapy, a very young "science" where many colleagues come up and say that they "finally understand how it works", and propose general schemas, graphics, and models.

    I have chosen then a modest and open title, "Problems of psychotherapy", in order to refer to an area in which documents of various orientations are be published, at times even in a random order, possibly ready to stimulate discussions. Since the different positions become clearer if they are published together with critical comments, the documents, whenever possible, are followed by discussions written by authors who hold different opinions, as according to the format I had used in the "Psychotherapy" section of, a journal where previously I was editing a similar area. In order to maintain a continuity with the work previously done in that journal, the first documents listed in this area are made of links to the documents previously published in (these are the first ten). Then there are the documents published in PSYCHOMEDIA, links to debates that have taken place in discussion lists (mostly in the "Psychotherapy" list [PM-PT], of which I am national co-owner), and links to some of my publications that are on the Internet.

    The title "Problems of psychotherapy" (with the subtitle "In search for the 'true mechanism of action' of psychotherapy"), incidentally, is the same title I gave to a regular column I was asked to write since 1987 in the journal Il Ruolo Terapeutico of Milan. I thought that it could be a good idea to publish in this area also all my articles that appeared in that journal, so that they could be easily available to all interested readers. These articles cover various topics, those that all along these years have attracted my curiosity:

  • Go to: Papers by Paolo Migone published in the journal Il Ruolo Terapeutico since 1987, in the column titled Problems of psychotherapy. In search of the "true mechanism of action" of psychotherapy

    Many of these articles also appear, in longer versions, in my book Terapia psicoanalitica (Milan: Franco Angeli, 1995; new edition: 2010). I thank Il Ruolo Terapeutico, publisher of the journal until 1997, and Franco Angeli of Milan, who publishes it since 1998, for having kindly given the permissions to reproduce this material in PSYCHOMEDIA.

    Paolo Migone, M.D. <>, September 1999

Articles and Documents of this Area

Documents previously published in POL-it:

Documents published in PSYCHOMEDIA:


Links to other Areas in PSYCHOMEDIA:

  • Area Debates that have taken place in Mailing Lists

    • Dibattito sulla Psicoterapia integrata
      (PM-PT, Genuary-March 1998 - PM, 5 May 1999)
      Editing by Antonio M. Favero
      Discussions: Adriano Alloisio, Andrea Angelozzi, Salvo Capodieci, Tullio Carere, Davide Cavagna, Diego Chianese, Gennaro Esposito, Licia Filingeri, Gianmaria Galeazzi, Wilfredo Galliano, Marco Longo, Paolo Migone, Federico Paolino, Marina Ricci, Albertina Seta, Ileana Taddei, Emilio Vercillo, Gabriele Zanieri

    • Dibattito sull'articolo di M. M. Gill "Psicoanalisi e psicoterapia: una revisione"
      (PM-PT, February-June 1999 - PM, 6 September 1999)
      - Prima parte - Seconda parte - Terza parte
      Editing by Antonio M. Favero & Paolo Migone
      Discussions: Adriano Alloisio, Andrea Angelozzi, Tullio Carere, Gaetano Dell'Anna, Licia Filingeri, Wilfredo Galliano, Tullio Garau, Gaetano Giordano, Renzo Giraldi, Marco Longo, Salvatore Manai, Fabrizio Marcolongo, Paolo Migone, Luca Panseri, Piero Porcelli, Ermete Ronchi, Gian Paolo Scano, Daniele Toffoletto

    • Dibattito su Farmaci e psicoterapia
      (PM-PT, March-April 1999 - PM, 16 September 1999; Addendum of April-May 2000)
      Editing by Paolo Migone, co-owner of PM-PT list
      Discussions: Fabio Canegalli, Tullio Carere, Gaetano Dell'Anna, Gennaro Esposito, Gaetano Giordano, Giobatta Guasto, Paolo Migone, Luca Panseri, Carlo Pasino, Piero Porcelli, Paolo Roccato, Emilio Vercillo

    • Dibattito sulle Psicoterapie brevi
      (PM-PT - April 1999 - PM, 4 October 1999)
      Editing by Paolo Migone, co-owner of PM-PT
      Discussions: Andrea Angelozzi, Daniele Cacchioni, Tullio Carere, Gaetano Dell'Anna, Wilfredo Galliano, Gaetano Giordano, Paolo Migone, Emilio Mordini, Fausto Radaelli, Antonio Augusto Rizzoli, Sandro Rosseti, Gian Paolo Scano, Bruno Spinetoli

    • Dibattito sulla Metacognizione
      (PM-PT, December 1999-February 2000 - PM, 10 May 2000)
      Editing by Paolo Migone, co-owner of PM-PT
      Discussions: Andrea Angelozzi, Tullio Carere, Davide Cavagna, Angelo Compare, Mario Galzigna, Anna Grazia, Fabrizio Marcolongo, Andrea Mazzeo, Paolo Migone, Luca Panseri, Giovanni M. Ruggiero, Gian Paolo Scano, Ileana Taddei

    • Dibattito sulla EMDR
      (PM-PT & IPSICO, November-December 2000 - PM, 15 March 2001)
      Editing by Paolo Migone, co-owner of PM-PT list
      Discussions: Tullio Carere, Isabel Fernandez, Marco Longo, Gabriele Melli, Paolo Migone, Luca Panseri, Luca Pezzullo

    • Dibattito sul Film di Nanni Moretti La stanza del figlio
      (PM-SMC, March-May 2001 - PM, 26 May 2001)
      Editing by Paolo Migone
      Discussions: A. Abbiate Fubini, G. Arnò, N. Artico, S. Benvenuto, S. Capodieci, T. Carere, M. Chiola, S. Di Marco, A. Giovannoni, P.R. Goisis, A. Grazia, A.G. Maone, M. Marchesi, F. Marcolongo, L. Mecacci, P. Migone, D. Moro, L. Panseri, C. Patrignani, R. Rizzitelli, G. Rossi, G.M. Ruggiero, G.P. Scano, A. Seta, R. Valdrè

    • Dibattito sul Concetto di holding (contenimento) in psicoterapia
      (PM-PT, February-March 2001- PM, 15 September 2001) 
      Editing by Luca Panseri & Paolo Migone 
      Discussions: Tullio Carere, Anna Ferruta, Licia Filingeri, Gaetano Giordano, Roberto Goisis, Gianni Guasto, Marco Longo, Paolo Migone, Luca Panseri, Maria Ponsi, Piero Porcelli

    • Dibattito su Come usiamo le (quattro) psicologie? Considerazioni sull'integrazione psicoterapeutica
      (PM-PT, November 2001-January 2002 - PM, 13 March 2002)
      Editing by Luca Panseri & Paolo Migone
      Discussions: Tullio Carere, Davide Cavagna, Paolo Cozzaglio, Licia Filingeri, G. Giacomo Giacomini, Paolo Migone, Piero Porcelli, Gian Paolo Scano, Pietro Spagnulo

    • Debate on Psychotherapy Integration: pre-congress (2 parts: May 2001 to March 2002) and post-congress (4 parts: March 2002 to January 2003) debates of the First SEPI-Italy Meeting 'Integrità e integrazione in psicoterapia', Milan, 16 March 2002
      (Private List of SEPI-Italy, May 2001-July 2002 - PM, 1 March 2002 and 16 July 2002) 
      Editing by Tullio Carere e Paolo Migone 
      Discussions: Giorgio G. Alberti, Sergio Benvenuto, Tullio Carere, Giovanni Liotti, Paolo Migone, Diego Napolitani, Mario Rossi Monti
      See also the pre-congress (Jan. to March 2006) e post-congress (March to April 2006) debates of the Second SEPI-Italy Meeting 'La pratica dell'integrazione in psicoterapia' (Florence, March 24-26, 2006). Editing by Tullio Carere. Discussions: Patrizia Adami Rook, Giorgio G. Alberti, David Allen, Mark Dworkin, Mike Basseches, Ken Benau, Sergio Benvenuto, Tullio Carere, Tyler Carpenter, Paolo Franchini, Zoltan Gross, Giuseppe Lago, Giovanni Liotti, Daniela Maggioni, Andre Marquis, Paolo Migone, John Norcross, Luca Panseri, Hilde Rapp, George Stricker, Stephan Tobin, Paul Wachtel, Chris Wagner, Barry Wolfe, Alberto Zucconi, Allan Zuckoff
      See also the "SEPI on Science" debate held in the SEPI International list in March-April 2009

  • Rapaport-Klein Study Group

  • List of Italian Psychotherapy Schools

  • Papers by Paolo Migone published in the journal Il Ruolo Terapeutico since 1987, in the column titled Problems of psychotherapy. In search of the "true mechanism of action" of psychotherapy

  • Search Engines on the Internet

Links to other web sites:

Other papers by Paolo Migone on the Internet: