Psychoanalysis provides a framework for understanding human experience, which can be of great value to persons suffering from psychiatric disorders, and to their caretakers. There are also, of course, other useful frameworks. In past years, some have inferred that the value of psychoanalysis with these patients implies that it helps us to understand the aetiology of their disorders, that it may offer a ‘cure’, or that it has some special relevance to their problems. There is no evidence for any of these. Further progress in this area should be based on new evidence.