Background: Short-term dynamic psychotherapy is a well-established treatment modality. Habib Davanloo, MD was a pioneer in bringing it to the forefront of psychotherapy.
Objective: The aim of this paper is to highlight Habib Davanloo’s unique contribution to the field of dynamic psychiatry and psychotherapy by tracing the development of his metapsychological theory of the unconscious, placing it in historical perspective.
Method: The origin and development of dynamic psychiatry, from the early work of Mesmer through classical psychoanalysis and contemporary theories will be reviewed. Next, the movement aimed at shortening the course of psychotherapy while maintaining a psychodynamic perspective will be explored. Davanloo’s unique contributions to the field will be elaborated. The development of Davanloo’s metapsychology of the unconscious from his earliest work beginning in the 1960’s and further developed in his technique of “Unlocking the Unconscious” in the 1980’s will be examined. I will then turn to Davanloo’s work in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, which focused on widening the range of patients who could be successfully treated with his technique, and on expanding his training programs. Davanloo’s most recent work in the 2000’s and 2010’s involving Audiovisual Closed Circuit Training Workshops on the Mobilization of the Unconscious, Total Removal of Resistance and Multidimensional Unconscious Structural Change will be reviewed.
Conclusion: Davanloo was indeed a pioneer in short-term psychotherapy. He remains at the cutting edge, continuing to shorten the course, increasing the depth and the range of this powerful treatment modality, and developing innovative teaching methods.