“There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” (Kurt Lewin). Good theory fosters very practical approaches to treatment.
According to Karl Menninger in Man Against Himself (1938) “A theory, even a false one, is better than to attribute events to pure chance. “Chance” explanations leave us in the dark; a theory will lead to confirmation or rejection.”
Academic departments often favor empirical research over theoretical research. From issues of conflict of interest, researcher bias, patient selection criteria, statistical treatment of the data, slanted interpretation of the data, and under-reporting of negative results to mention a few concerns, so-called objective research is highly subjective. On the other hand theoretical research conducted with an open mind and spirit of curiosity adhering to rigorous guidelines can be relatively objective.
The take home message is that good theoretical research has value in psychiatry and clinical psychology, and at least as much as empirical research. Progress in science occurs with a balance of theoretical and empirical research, and in an ideal universe both exist in balance. Those conducting well grounded theoretical research in psychiatry, clinical psychology, and related disciplines are performing a very valuable function for the advancement of science and need to be fully aware of this reality. Actively resist internally and externally generated notions to the contrary. Believe in what you are doing!
Centre For Theoretical Research In Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology