LSAT 91 – Section 2 – Question 13

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT91 S2 Q13
Necessary assumption +NA
+Medium 145.724 +SubsectionMedium

This is an NA question.

The argument starts with a causal premise. There are at least two causes for the “troubles from which a patient seeks relief through psychotherapy.” One cause is “internal: [stimulus doesn’t tell us what].” The other is external: the patient’s relationship with other people.

The argument concludes that to help a patient heal, the psychotherapist must focus on the need for positive change in those relationships.

Okay, so the argument assumes that because the relationship is a partial cause of the problem, solving the problem requires working on that cause.

Answer Choice (C) sounds like it’s addressing that link. It tells us that those patients who do change their relationships will consequently find relief from at least some of their troubles. If it’s the right kind of change, then this strengthens the argument. (C) shows that improving the relationship does produce positive effects. That makes the conclusion more plausible. But (C) isn’t necessary. Think about how the conclusion could still be true even if (C) were false. First, what would it mean for (C) to be false? It would mean that it’s possible for a patient who changed their relationships with other people to find no relief at all. How can the conclusion still be true, i.e., how can we still require therapists to focus on the need for positive change in the patient’s relationships? Because the change in (C) didn’t reveal direction. That means the change could be positive or negative. Clearly, if the change is in the negative direction, the therapist would just tell them that they did it wrong. But even if the change was in the positive direction, there’s no reason to assume that all positive changes are equal. Some positive changes to the relationship might not yield relief. The therapist would still have room to say that yes, you made positive changes in your relationship, which is good, but the kind of positive change that I want to help you make is different. And it’s those kinds of positive changes that will help you heal.

Correct Answer Choice (D) doesn’t have any of these issues. (D) starts with the therapists, not the patients. (D) says that no therapist can help a patient heal solely by addressing the internal causes of the patient’s troubles. This is absolutely necessary. (D) protects the assumption we identified above, that because relationships contribute to the problem, they must be a part of the solution. Imagine if (D) were false. That means a therapist can help a patient heal solely by focusing on the internal causes. This is incompatible with a requirement to have the therapist focus on the external (relationship) causes. If (D) were false, then the premises lose all their supportive power. We don’t care that some of the causes are external because we can disregard them yet solve the problem anyway.

Answer Choice (A) lays out a necessary condition for therapists to help change their patients’ relationships. (A) says that it requires those patients to focus on “other people’s troubles.” Okay, why do we need to assume this? What if it’s possible for therapists to help change their patients’ relationships without the patients having to focus on other people’s troubles? That would seem to be just fine with the argument.

Answer Choice (B) says that if a therapist helps change a patient’s relationships, then there must be at least some patients who won’t be healed. What, why? Why must there be at least one patient who doesn’t improve? This cuts against what the argument is saying. Perhaps (B) wanted to say if a therapist helps change a patient’s relationships, then there must be at least some patients who would be healed? Even then, I don’t think this would be required since the conclusion claims the positive change in the relationship to be a necessary condition of healing whereas this edited version of (B) is claiming the positive change to be a sufficient condition.

Answer Choice (E) says that if a therapist helps a patient focus on the set of troubles that are purely internal, then relief will be achieved. This is also unnecessary. First, notice that this refuses to accept the premise. The premise already claimed that the troubles from which patients seek relief are not purely internal. Second, we do not need to assume that a strategy that ignores external (relationship) causes will be successful.

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