Recently Completed Dissertations

The nature and importance of interpersonal dynamics in the treatment of disorders related to complex trauma.


PhD student: Kimberly Van Nieuwenhove

 Summary: Literature reveals that complex trauma influences the formation of fundamental beliefs about the self and others, which find expression in vast rooted interpersonal patterns. This project aims at a better understanding of the concrete nature of these interpersonal representations, operationalized by means of the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme (CCRT) method, and their potential to change throughout therapy. This requires an investigation of the structure of the CCRT before and after therapy, as well as an in-depth investigation of the interactions between patient and therapist.

Promoter: Prof. Dr. Reitske Meganck

Co-promoter: Prof. Dr. Mattias Desmet


What is the subjective change procured by a Lacanian Psychoanalysis?  A qualitative-conceptual study based on Lacan’s knot theory.


PhD student: Dries Dulsster

Summary: In his twenty-third seminar [1975-1976] Lacan, conceptualizes the psychic reality through the cross-linking of three dimensions: the Real (R), the Symbolic (S) and the Imaginary (I). This is a radical shift in relation to his previous teachings, where the emphasis was on the dominance of the Symbolic and the role of phantasmatic constructions. In Lacan's later work, the emphasis is much more on the very singular and contingent relationship between R, S and I. It gives us a new conceptual framework for both interventions of the analyst and the creative solutions of the analysand. This research intends to study a psychoanalytic therapy from the viewpoint of Lacan's later theory. We will study narratives of analysands and Lacanian psychoanalyst and examine how changes in the psychic reality can be explained with this theory. The first part of this dissertation will consist of a systematic conceptual study of the last teachings of Lacan. We consider the seventeenth seminar (L'envers de la psychoanalyse) as the starting point of his later teaching. The main focus will be on the twenty-second (RSI) and twenty-third seminar (Le Sinthôme). The second part of this research project will involve a Qualitative Study. In this study we will interview analysands who have gone through a Lacanian oriented psychoanalytic therapy. Each of them will be interviewed at the end of the therapy. This interview will focus on the change that was procured throughout the therapy, how they explain those changes and what was important to them throughout the therapy. We will use a thematic analysis to study these interviews and the findings will result in a first article in a scientific journal. For the second part of this Qualitative Study we will interview the analysts of the patients in the first group. Again we will use a semi-structured interview that focusses on the change procured in the analysis and how they explain this. This will result in a second article in a scientific journal. In the final stage, we will provide a systematic study of the themes that have been discussed in the first two articles and see how we can understand those themes using Lacan's later teachings.

Promoter: Prof. Dr. Stijn Vanheule


The value of the first-person perspective in psychotherapy research: a mixed-method study


 PhD student: Melissa De Smet

Summary: The field of psychotherapy is characterized by a research-practice gap. The question concerning the clinical relevance of findings from efficacy studies, or RCTs, plays a central role in this regard. Two criticized aspects concerning this subject are the conceptualization of the research sample in terms of strict DSM disorders, and the approach to the study of outcome by means of standard outcome measures. Qualitative research has been suggested as a potential avenue to bridge the research-practice gap, but the integration of both standard outcome research and qualitative inquiry remains scarce. In this research we investigate what the first-person perspective (FPP) can add to psychotherapy research, by integrating qualitative analyses of the subjective experience of participants in a standard RCT (cf. the Ghent Psychotherapy Study). More specifically, we aim to deepen the understanding of 1) the sample or mental disorder under study and 2) findings concerning therapy outcome, by investigating the relationship between standard measures (i.e. DSM conceptualizations and outcome measures) and the subjective experience of participants (i.e. FPP).

Promoter: Prof. Dr. Reitske Meganck


Subjectivity in phenomenology, neuro-cognitive science and psychoanalytic theory: a conceptual study. 


 PhD student: Jasper Feyaerts

Summary: In this doctoral search we aim to develop the divergent ways in which subjectivity is conceptualized in the phenomenological, neuro-cognitive and psychoanalytic traditions. Important issues in contemporary research are, inter alia​ (1) whether subjectivity is susceptible to naturalization by means of neuro-cognitive explanations; (2) if so, in what way this is supposed to be accomplished and (3) how the idea of subjectivity itself should be determined. Especially this last question opens on the classical debate with regard to the rights and limits of the first-person perspective in relation to the third-person perspective. Through a study of neuro-cognitive philosophers like Daniel Dennett and Paul Churchland, classical phenomenological authors like Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, and finally Freud and Lacan, different possible ​answers to these questions are developed and mutually determined.    

Promoter: Prof. Dr. Stijn Vanheule

Co-promoter: Prof. Dr. Gertrudis Vandevijver


 The interrelation between evolutions in complaints and different aspects of the therapeutic relation. A comparative study of the therapeutic process of hysterics and obsessional neurotics

PhD student
: Joachim Cauwe

 Summary: The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan approached the transference from the conceptual triad of the Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real. Our psychical reality is constituted by these three orders, corresponding to the respective domains of language, the (body) image and the drive. Even though the interrelations between these orders change throughout his teachings, the orders themselves remain a constant point of reflection and orientation, both conceptually and clinically.  In this Phd, we will examine how transference is manifested and handled through 4 clinical-conceptual studies. Each study will outline a particular concept of Lacan’s take on the multiplicity that is the transference. Furthermore, the concepts will be confronted with case studies from the literature and the ongoing psychotherapy research of the department of psychoanalysis and clinical consulting.  

Promoter: Prof. Dr. Stijn Vanheule


The Logic of Love. Lacan’s Formalisation of the Subject-Object Relationship.


PhD student: Dominiek Hoens

Summary: In Lacanian theory the notion of object a plays a crucial role and was considered by Lacan as his sole invention and addition to the post-Freudian development of psychoanalysis.

The doctoral research aims at situating the object a within a set of questions that preoccupied Lacan from early to later stages of his work. This set of questions can be divided into two basic ones:

  1. How does subjectivity emerge out of an initial positioning as or identification with the object? This question relates both to the genesis of subjectivity and to the aim of the analytical practice. Although Lacan qualified this emergence differently as metaphor (SVIII), separation (SXI) and destitution (Proposition (1968)), these processes rely on a specific conception of how a subject either relates to or identifies with an object.
  2. Why the attempt at formalizing this relation between subject and object? The classical answer to this question relates the use of mathematics and logics to the hope of a non-ambiguous and complete transmission of psychoanalytic theory. Yet, something else is at stake as well, for Lacan’s contention is that it is only through formalization that one can treat the object a theoretically in an adequate way.