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Books, Part XXV
Analysis of Transference, Vol. II
Patient B, Session 119
In this session the analyst is again relatively silent, though not
entirely so, as in Chapter I. As we shall see, in this case, a fleeting
explicit reference to the relationship at the beginning, a recent
experience, and a dream could have been integrated to yield an important
insight into the patient's experience of the relationship. What happens
instead is that the issue is enacted, rather than explored and understood,
by the participants.
The Annotated Session
P: [four-minute silence] I was just about, um, well -- two
different things in a way -- um, my comparing how I felt yesterday
to today. And then it just seemed to parallel having to actually start
by saying something here -- that there were lots of things going through
my mind while I was, after I came in. But just to begin, no matter
what it was I began with, I was finding very hard, just to say the
first word, and it was the same thing as yesterday. I had thought
about going shopping and I, I couldn't get myself to make the first
step outside and, and to go to a store. I just somehow felt as if
'I couldn't do it and I found lots of excuses not to. And then today
I just did, and then it was fine and I, and it didn't bother me and
I could make decisions and choices. But I guess that was part of it
yesterday -- I just didn't feel I could make the decisions that I'd
have to make. Which leads me to wonder: Is there something that I
don't want to say, and that's why it was hard to start? I was -- maybe
this is it, I don't know -- I was thinking of [clears throat] sort
of a double reaction I had when I saw the way you were standing holding
the door, because my first inclination was you were sort of "Oh
Lord, here we go again" inside, and, and impatient. And then,
and then immediately I started thinking, "Well, how could you
stand while you're waiting holding the door and what does it matter?"
And it -- I, I think I'm sort of torn between the two attitudes, but
it isn't bothering me the way some days it would completely crush
me if I started thinking the way I did at first. I wouldn't get beyond
the way I felt at first. For instance, I think if yesterday I'd seen
you standing that way and I'd had that initial reaction, that's what
I would have thought. [cough] [pause]
Gill: The analyst might have done well to ask for further
elaboration of this very vivid experience of a nonverbal interaction
at the beginning of the hour. He could inquire, for example, about
what the patient thinks is the reason for the analyst's alleged impatience.
What, after all, does she mean when she attributes the thought to
him: "Oh Lord, here we go again"? Moreover, it's likely
that there is a relationship between this experience at the door and
the four-minute silence that ensues. By saying nothing, the analyst
risks wasting an opportunity to engage the patient in an explication
of an immediate and very charged experience. If he chooses to remain
silent, as he does, he should certainly listen for and interpret subsequent
associations in light of the themes that have been introduced so strikingly
right at the beginning.
P: I was also thinking when I did get out today, that it,
um, I think I've al-, I've said this in other ways, but I think one
reason that I have in the past wanted to have children or a child
is because, well, it would sort of give me a direction. There are
certain things you'd have to do to care for the child, and aside from
wanting to have something dependent on me and so forth, I think just
the fact that I'd be focusing on something is part of it. Then I would
get out, because want--, wanting to get your child out and there'd
be no other decisions than that. Maybe where you'd go to. But, but
then I, then one of the things that I think I'm still afraid of is
that the confusion and the pressures on me would increase in a way
and the -- it would be different types of decisions, but there still
would be those that would have to be made and there'll be new ones
that I'm not used to, and that I think frightens me. [silence]
Gill: After the four-minute silence, the patient acknowledges
that she has trouble getting started -- in the hour and elsewhere
-- and that she thought the analyst anticipated the hour with impatience.
Perhaps she feels his impatience has to do with her inertia. Then
she says she wants a child to give her direction. It seems reasonable
to conclude that these themes are connected. Perhaps she feels the
analyst is impatient with her for being unable to start without being
P: And another thing -- I don't know how much this has to
do with it -- I, I think it's more the attitude I somehow began the
day with -- but I had my hair done this morning and I finally got around
to saying to my hairdresser that I wanted my hair to be done differently.
And at that point I wasn't too sure exactly what I wanted and I was
still hesitant anyway to direct him too much since I was unsure. But
yet I was still willing to try something different. And what he did
I didn't like. And I sort of half-changed it, but I still, I don't
know, it didn't bother me. It was sort of: If' you don't try then
you can't know. And I know that, I knew that other people didn't think
it looked as well as other styles on me, but that didn't really seem
to bother me that much either. And I, I don't know, 1 just somehow
felt a little bit freer, again as if: What does it matter because
I've gotten that much closer to know what I do want? But then I think
of something that happened this weekend which - -the closer I get to
know what I do want, the more I sort of reject it. Um, we saw the
movie I Am Curious Yellow and I think that I was aroused or
something by the fact that there was a nude man in the film. And in
any case I felt that I wanted to have intercourse with F [husband]
and I felt much more intimate with him, much more interested in this
type of thing. But then when it came right down to it, I, I was more
inhibited than I'd been in a long time, as if I felt very guilty that
I was admitting that I felt this way.
Gill: The theme of a struggle between wanting to be directed
and taking initiative continues. She directed the hairdresser somewhat
and was pleased to feel freer. She even felt like taking the initiative
sexually with her husband, but then began feeling guilty and inhibited.
The analyst should be alert to how this conflict finds expression
in the patient's relationship with him. The patient's difficulty starting
at the beginning of the hour may well be associated with a conflict
paralleling the one with her husband. Also, although this is certainly
speculative, it is possible that the patient's vivid impression of
the analyst standing at the door may have been sexually arousing and
may have something to do either with her own "inhibitions"
at the beginning of the session or with what she perceives as his,
A: Do you remember what you actually thought about at the
P: Which time? The movie or ... ?
A: Well, either, but particularly the one you felt inhibited.
P: Yeah. Well, it was -- I wanted him to, um, have an orgasm.
I wanted to, well actually I wanted to just masturbate him because
I didn't want to be involved. And it, and I felt very, almost sickened
if I began to respond, but it gave me some pleasure for him to respond.
And yet, it was that mixed thing of: I couldn't respond without feeling
sickened by it and yet, um, I felt very definitely the lack, that
I wasn't responding. And it was funny, just, um -- I don't know whether
there's any connection or if the connection is more, um, with the
mixed feelings I've had about the dream and I had concerning the instructor
and my other reactions. Um, but I think it was Saturday night.
Gill: She vividly describes a conflict about responding sexually,
as though she attempted to resolve the anxiety about sexual initiative
by remaining uninvolved. She refers to a dream which has been discussed
earlier about an instructor, a likely figure to represent an analyst
(although we are not told whether this connection was considered).
It's probably wise for the analyst to await further developments,
especially as they may refer to himself, whether directly or by allusion.
Nevertheless, a plausible speculation is that she is expressing an
identification with the analyst, whom she perceives as wanting to
P: We saw the movie Saturday night and then Saturday night
I had a dream that, um, was in a class situation. And I don't remember
if there was anybody in particular who was running the class, but
it was something we did do in a, in a way in the class I'm taking;
because we were all, we'd all made puppets. And the part I recall
now about the dream was my playing around with the puppet I made and
feeling fairly free and yet always knowing that pretty soon I'd be
asked to perform in front of others. And when this did happen in the
dream and I had to make my puppet work in front of others, I completely
lost control over it. I, I just sort of froze and I couldn't do anything.
Gill: The dream includes several possible allusions to the
analysis. The class may represent the analytic situation and the manipulation
of puppets suggests a continuation of the theme of who directs whom.
That she froze when she had to perform sounds very much like her freezing
in the sexual situation, and may also allude to freezing up with the
analyst, as she does, perhaps, at the beginning of the hour. There
is a rather neat parallel between feeling free when she is by herself
playing around with the puppet but then freezing once the performance
begins and her description of the contrast between anticipating a
session and actually beginning. Anticipating the hour, rehearsing
for it, as it were, many things go through her mind, but once the
session begins she has trouble saying the first word (p. 29). The
reference to performing in front of others may also allude to the
fact that the analysis is being recorded. With that possibility in
mind, one might wonder whether the one who freezes represents not
only the patient but perhaps the analyst too. As for the specific
content, given that the patient has already referred to wanting to
masturbate her husband, the reference to performing with a hand puppet
makes it inevitable that an analyst will think masturbation is being
alluded to in some way.
P: And then I think there was some awareness again of, um --
because I had frozen and I wasn't handling my puppet, especially after
having practiced much better or played with it beforehand -- again
of incurring disapproval. And in fact, there is a definite connection -- because
-- with what was happening with F -- because I think what I did with
my puppet when I realized I was freezing and was going to get disapproval
anyway since I wasn't going to be able to perform with it, I then
-- I can't remember now exactly how I did this -- but in some way I turned
it back on the class and asked them to tell them, tell my puppet about
themselves. And somehow it ended up I and my puppet weren't doing
anything and that I was making the class do it. And even though it
was still a fiasco, somebody else was acting, it wasn't me. Somebody
else was doing the work or, or expressing themselves, revealing themselves.
And that is what I was doing with F. And it was that inability to
feel free to really express myself and know what I liked and didn't
like that I think was what was bothering me in that class. When I
felt his disapproval, even if he really didn't give it, I assumed
he was, because I knew I wasn't doing something that is a standard
of his and that I wanted to be able to meet. [pause]
Gill: She is aware of a connection between the episode with
her husband and the dream. She dealt with the situation in the dream
by getting someone else to act and she dealt with the situation with
her husband by trying to get him to act. The theme of self-revelation
may be another allusion to the analysis. Perhaps the patient represents
the analyst via identification when she reports dealing with her own
paralysis by "making the class do it." In other words, she
may have the idea that the analyst feels inadequate so he throws all
the responsibility for the analytic work onto her. Some support for
this hypothesis can be found in the several pauses and silences that
have punctuated the session so far, in addition to the four-minute
silence at the beginning. It is not clear whose disapproval she fears.
She may mean her husband and she may mean the instructor in the earlier
dream. But the most explicit reference so far to a disapproving figure
whose standards she may not be meeting is to the analyst, whom she
experiences as impatient.
P: And its interesting that it's so -- the dream which had
b -- I know I was very emotionally involved in this because Sunday
morning when I did, I was sort of -- I always had the feeling I was
kind of half-awake when I was having the dream since I do remember
some of it. And then later I just had this feeling that my mind was
just full of things and I didn't know exactly what they were. And
we, um, went for a drive. We were going hiking and had to drive quite
a way and I just wanted to be quiet and say nothing and just think;
try to get to what all these things were.
Gill: This may also imply an identification with the silent
analyst, who is trying to figure all this out.
P: And the first thing that I began to think of -- and after
this I recalled the dream again -- was that, well, two aspects that
I think are, are involved in why I find it so hard to make decisions
and know what I want, to even have the confidence to think what I
like and don't like and want and don't want. Because, first of all,
in our family we weren't ever asked in anything that really mattered:
"What do you think?" or "What do you want?" That
I can recall. And even if we were, still my parents made it very clear
that their opinions were the ones we should have and that if we didn't
agree then we just were stupid and didn't know anything, and, or immature,
and when we grew up we'd understand. And then the other thing is --
I think is perhaps even more important -- is just the way my father is
when you do agree with him, when you choose the same foods or agree
on political philosophy or anything. That it's almost like you're
a comrade. You -- there's a closeness and he's very moved by this
because, well, in a way it's giving him his confidence, I suppose,
that he needs. But even, just like ordering an ice cream cone at a
Howard Johnson's or something. If you chose the same flavor as he
did, then there was somehow an intimacy between you and he'd get in
a very good mood. And I don't know, you got his approval and, and
in a way his affection by choosing as he chose. And I th-- , I don't
know, I was thinking, too, in terms of how so often I'm ask--, I want
F to make his decision first because now I think I'm doing this with
F -- that if we both are eating the same thing or somehow share the
same opinion, there's a certain intimacy or closeness. [pause] And
on the other hand, that this would lead me to assume that if you strike
out on your own, have your own ideas or choose your own kinds of choices,
you get disapproval. And I know this is true in, in discussing political
things with my parents that this would happen. And I was just, it
just occurred to me now that in my family when we were little, everybody
liked ice cream but me. And I really didn't like it and, and I only
enjoyed one or two flavors. [cough] And it was sort of like I was
a family outcast because I didn't enjoy ice cream as everybody else
did. Nobody could understand this. And it really was a big thing,
since my family ate ice cream quite often. And it's also interesting,
I just thought that I sort of felt I had to like a flavor, so I'd
choose one flavor for awhile until I got sick of it and then I'd choose
another. But I did begin to like ice cream more, and I think it's
right around when I went away to college and afterwards, when I was
out of home, and also when I began to eat some flavors that were sort
of novel and unheard of in my home, since we always had the same old
good basic choices. [silence] It's funny, too, that for years and
years I've been aware that this same thing that works in my family,
of sort of that togetherness because you're choosing the same things
and enjoying the same ideas, doesn't work outside of the family. And
even though I knew it didn't, I couldn't do anything about it; even
though I knew it would drive my friends crazy that all I'd do is agree
and follow sort of their choices and tastes. And I didn't even want
to be that way--frustrated me as much as it frustrated anybody else.
But still, even though I knew this, that was the way I functioned
both inside and outside of the family. And I think that's one of the
things that makes it so hard for me to be with my parents now and
particularly my father. He's -- my mother will just sort of enjoy
a good fight if we disagree politically, and [clears throat] she's
not so emotional if you do agree and so forth. But my father really,
practically--tears will come to his eyes. It's not quite that bad,
but that's the way I think he's feeling inside, if you agree, and
if for no other reason. Right now I'm feeling I can't agree just because
it sickens me to have to go through, this whole thing. And yet I know
it hurts him and it's sort of needless to hurt somebody.
Gill: She is searching in the past for explanations of her
behavior. She speaks of domination by her parents and her father's
need to have her share his feelings. She is "sickened" by
that, the same word she used in describing the sexual episode with
her husband (p. 32).
We can speculate on the possibility that the
patient regards the analyst as being like her father, who demands
conformity to his views and tastes as a condition for closeness. This
might explain the patient's paralysis at the beginning of the session.
It could be a kind of protest against a demand that she conform to
the analyst's expectation that she should be the one to speak and
that she should verbalize whatever is on her mind. She did, after
all, perceive him as impatient at the door (presumably because of
some slight deviance on her part from the manner or the speed with
which she thought he expected her to enter). These speculations, however,
are far less grounded than they might be had the analyst pursued the
explicit and implicit relationship themes that we have commented on
prior to this point. An exploration of the patient's experience of'
the relationship with the analyst in the here-and-now might have set
the stage, eventually, for interpretations connecting the analyst
to the father. Of course, the associations about the father might
not have come up at this point, or even in this session, had the analyst
pursued the here-and-now expressions of the transference. It seems
likely, however, that they would come up eventually, and they would
then stand a better chance of being meaningfully interpreted in the
context of the transference.
P: Because I think I was just thinking that F had wanted this
weekend to go to Z [place]. And, and I just really haven't wanted
to go, as much as I like Z, and I thought of all kinds of excuses
-- that it really won't be very nice up there and that the drive up
and back is horrible and I can't face it, especially after the accident
we had and the awful time we had driving it. And, but really basically
I think it's just I don't want to see my parents and if they're up
there I just don't want to be there. And his family wants us to come
to their home, and usually both of us much prefer to go to my parents
than to his, and here we have the perfect opportunity. And I think
I'd prefer to go to his family, because somehow I'm not involved emotionally.
And just that fact, even though I may not like a lot of things that
are happening, makes me feel much more relaxed and happy. So now I'm
happy with his family and he's happy with mine.
Gill: Again we hear about wanting to remain emotionally uninvolved,
as was true in the sexual episode. One can only speculate on how the
matter of involvement may relate to the analytic situation. So far
the analyst's overt involvement, in speech at any rate, has been confined
to an early question (p. 32).
P: There's something else too. I think that I was just thinking
of an evening when they were at our apartment for dinner -- his family
[cough]. And, um, I've always thought his mother says some very stupid
things and is a very difficult person to get along with anyway, because
she just sort of monopolizes things and doesn't even listen to somebody
else. And I've just always kind of let her rattle on because there's
not much else you can do. But F used to be very fond of her and sort
of blind to this, and it used to really bother me that he didn't see
this side of her, because it was so blatant to me. And now he's beginning
to see it and it drives him crazy, the way she'll carry on. And I
think I get some kind of sadistic pleasure out of that. And that's
one reason why I, aside from the other things I've said, I like going.
Because then it sort of is making it clear to F how, I suppose, I'm
better than his mother.
Gill: One could suspect an allusion to the analyst via identification.
She may feel he lets her rattle on because there's not much else he
P: [two-minute silence] It's funny how today everything seems
to be running in terms of, of, of my ha--, ha--, sort of my looking
at how I have in the past, and probably still do, seek approval and
disapproval or feel it. And yet today I felt very much that I, I could
sort of, well, like when I'm shopping, admit when I didn't know exactly
what I wanted or I didn't know [cough] exactly how to use something
and, well, just simply admit my ignorance. And I used to always feel
that I couldn't admit it, especially in things like if I'm buying
makeup or something, because then the saleswoman will be very scornful:
"Why don't you know these things? How can you be ignorant?"
And so then I wouldn't buy them just because I'd be afraid of admitting
ignorance. And today I; it didn't bother me and no--, and it didn't
strike me anybody was scornful either.
Gill: She reflects on what she has been saying and tries to
integrate it. She may be taking over the role of analyst because he
has failed to take any initiative. She was silent for two minutes
before these last remarks, perhaps hoping for some response from him.
A: It's interesting in light of the dream that you had Saturday
night and in light of the way you describe your feelings of your sexual
experience with F. Because in the dream you were very worried and
in the end felt your ignorance--not knowing how to handle the puppet
or not being able to handle the puppet--uh, persisted. But that dream
followed the experience in which what you emphasized, what you emphasized
about it was that you wanted to, that you couldn't enjoy yourself
and you wanted to satisfy F. I think there must some connection between
wanting to masturbate him and this dream about the puppet. And the
feeling that you couldn't do with the puppet what needed to be done.
You couldn't perform with it.
Gill: It's hard to know what the analyst is driving at. What
is clear is that he proposes a connection between the sexual episode
and the dream about the puppet, that he wishes to emphasize her inability
to perform, and that he is hinting at something about masturbation.
P: And my mind jumps to: if there is a connection it would
be the fear that if we, if I involve myself wanting intercourse and
then couldn't have an orgasm, or the fear that I wouldn't be able
to, or that that would be the parallel that -- I suppose that sort
of reflects on the whole way I've been feeling today. And that I didn't,
whatever it was, I didn't want to risk it. I didn't want to just say,
"Oh, well, we can try and if we, if I can't, so what? If I can,
so what?" Because very often when I have felt in that mood, when
it's been not, not colored by sort of feeling guilt at having a definite
attraction toward F, then I've been very bothered if I haven't been
able to have an orgasm. I've been very frustrated and I don't have
the attitude: "Well, so what?" Sort of, like that's the
one and only chance and I failed. But I wasn't at all aware of feeling
that way. Yet I suppose that must be part of it because if I felt
guilt at just wanting to have the sexual experience, then I should
-- or just sort of liking nudeness, which I used to find very hard
to admit -- then I probably wouldn't have even wanted to masturbate
Gill: What she says is not very clear. She does focus on the
analyst's suggestion that she could not perform and relates it to
a fear that she might not have an orgasm, but it all seems speculative.
The transference, moreover, is not touched upon by either the patient
or the analyst.
A: What was the puppet like?
Gill: An unexpected change of direction. The analyst had apparently
begun to develop an interpretation of the dream and now he returns
to the manifest content for further detail, probably to pave the way
for something he intends to say.
P: It's funny. I, I, I can recall enough to know that while
I was practicing with it, playing with it, it had a very definite
character and face and so forth. And now all I can remember is that
it was, the hand puppet type that you put your hand up inside and
it, it's like a glove or a mitten over your hand. But I know that
it had much more than that and I'm left with the feeling that I had
at the end of the dream, which was, "What is this thing? What
can I bring out about it? It's faceless." And that's what it,
that's what I recall now.
A: Do you think you could have thought of it as a penis?
Gill: It seems clear that what the analyst says is not derived
so much from the patient's associations to his question as from what
he had in mind in the change of direction above. The "facelessness" may have been confirming, though, of his hypothesis.
P: Well, when you said what kind of a puppet it was, then I
thought of a hand puppet and then of masturbating F. I did make that
connection. But it was -- I, I don't -- it's the first time I'd thought
of it in that way.
A: You didn't say that thought, right?
P: You mean you think I've thought it before?
A: No, I mean you -- you said that you had just thought of it
when I first brought it up?
P: Well, more in terms of I thought that's what you're driving
A: Ha, yeah, right. But, but you didn't mention it.
Gill: The patient chuckles, and it is not hard to understand
why. The exchange is an enactment of the struggle over who takes initiative.
The analyst wants her to admit responsibility for connecting the puppet
to penis and masturbation, but she turns the responsibility back on
him by saying she is merely divining what he was driving at.
also suggests an enactment of a conflict about conforming to the analyst's
expectations, similar, perhaps, to the conflict in the patient's relationship
with her father. In this instance, she withholds a thought that she
no doubt imagines the therapist would be pleased to hear. The analyst,
in turn, assumes what could readily be construed by the patient as
a critical, impatient, manipulative stance (reminiscent of the patient's
perception of him at the door, of her relationship with her father,
and of the puppet dream).
P: No. I immediately go to this defensive reaction that it's
too far-fetched. I mean, when I think about it, it all fits together.
[pause] And I think somehow somewhere in the back of my mind -- I
can't recall now exactly what feelings I had about my reaction to
my class on Thursday and the dream I had about my instructor, but
I, I right now am thinking in terms that I feel still confused by
what all that meant. And so when I had this dream, and it was in terms
of a class and puppets and so forth, I sort of went, "Aha, another
clue to what was happening in this other situation," and so that's
always the light I was looking at it in.
A: Yeah. Well, but the sequence of your thoughts essentially
was: You go to the movie, and the way you described it was that you
saw the man's genitals. You saw him naked. Right?
A: And then your focus is that during your sexual experience
with F you wanted to masturbate him. And then later that night you
dream you have a puppet that you can't make perform.
Gill: The patient begins to develop what her line of thinking
had been in relation to the dream, but the analyst seems bent on imposing
his own view, despite the fact that she labels the particular detail
he is pushing "far-fetched." Now they actually seem to be
competing over who will determine the direction they will take. She
may well experience the therapist as insisting she conform to his
wishes and abandon her effort to make her own choices.
P: And it wasn't just once during the weekend that I felt
that way. I felt that way Sunday too. No, I can see that. But it,
um, I think I was going to--going back now to just what was happening
when I had this reaction, when I had the dream, and the other dream,
and then the reaction I did in class. [pause] I think maybe part of
this feeling is simply, well, I don't know, I can't quite get my finger
on it. But it has something to do with if I, if the dream was just
purely and simply fantasizing about my instructor or about you [cough]
and having a sexual experience, I can't, I just can't tolerate thinking
that I was even fantasizing something like that, unless what it really
means is that it's symbolic of somebody else. I think I said this
on Friday too, that if it represented my father or F then I could
accept it, but this is why I have to keep going back to it and it
has been disturbing me. It's almost as if I can't let it alone until
I make it mean something that I can then accept that it means, until
I can sort of pattern it, work it around, fit it into some form that
I can stand. [silence]
Gill: Now she is saying something that she truly owns as her
own and is presenting her experience of the relationship. She can't
stand the idea that she might have sexual ideas relating to the analyst
P: Again, it's just I get to this point and then I can't go
any further. I think that happened to me practically at this point
on Friday too, and I started to think of, um, well sort of, more or
less of school. And I was thinking of something that occurred to me
sometime recently, about part of the trouble I was having after Christmas,
I think, was sort of a strong reaction to things that I think bothered
me when I was growing and I didn't want to do the same with the children.
So I overreacted. For instance, in giving any kind of criticism, I
wanted to make them feel whatever they wanted to do was all right,
and lots of freedom of choice. And I just took away all the structure
because I didn't feel any structure. I didn't know what I thought
was right and what I didn't, and I was so afraid of hurting them the
way I think I've been hurt, or at least the way I reacted and was
hurt, whether or not it was really being done to me. And in a way
I was hurting the children by sort of not giving them any direction
at all. But I don't really want to think about this. Because when
I'm talking about--I just sort of find I'm not really interested in
it and. . .
Gill: The opening theme of the hour -- a conflict about taking
initiative and giving direction -- has returned in manifest form.
There are doubtless important connections between this theme and the
sexual one. She probably feels that to take initiative is equivalent
to owning to sexual desire, as when she became aroused in relation
to her husband. It is this equivalence which might explain her conflict
about initiative in the analytic situation. The conflict is experienced
here in terms of her feeling about the children. Because of her wish
not to dominate them as she feels she was dominated, she overreacts
and deprives them of any structure. She may well experience the analyst
as behaving similarly in relation to her. It may well be that the
experience of the relationship must be clarified first in these terms
before the specifically sexual theme can be usefully addressed. Her
statement that she can go no further (p. 43, line 31) is a request
for help from the analyst.
At some level she may feel that the analyst
is frozen himself and cannot help precisely because he is struggling
with a sexual wish toward her. She may have the idea that the reason
he does not encourage her to elaborate on her sexual interest in him,
or indeed on any issue in the transference, is that such "initiative"
has sexual meaning for him too.
A: Well, as you said, your thoughts go back to the dream about
the instructor and you're thinking about him and about me and that's
where you're sort of stuck, unresolved.
P: Because it just struck me: Why does it bother me so much
if it remains unresolved? Why can't it just be unresolved?
A: There was a feature of that dream that you didn't say anything
about and this was that you weren't sure whether you were alone. Does
that bring anything to mind?
Gill: The analyst's remark in the first lines above seems
like a beginning responsiveness to the patient's experience, but his
subsequent question about the dream is jarring. It may be a beginning
replay of the interaction he started earlier (p. 41), leading to the
question of whether the puppet could represent a penis. He is again
taking the initiative away from her and perhaps asking her to divine
what he has in mind. There is even some question about the accuracy
of his recollection of the dream. It was not that she was not sure
whether she was alone but that she didn't remember whether anyone
was "running the class"--again, a reference to who has the
initiative, who is in charge.
P: It brings to mind something that has occurred to me this
weekend that was in, um, Portnoy's Complaint, when one of the
mistresses that he had was talking about, well--it was also an experience
they had of having more than two people there. And then when she was
talking about a couple who asked her to watch them while they had
intercourse, and sort of this element of an audience. And that thought
kept occurring to me almost as if I wanted it, and in a sort of perverse
way. And yet I wouldn't want it at all. But. And it also made me think
of, um, how back in the fall whenever F and I had intercourse, I would
always--well, I don't know exactly how I thought of it then, but somewhere
in the thoughts either right then or afterwards would be: "Now
I'll have to talk about it here." So it was almost as if you
could be there watching us. But, yet this liking of nudeness and,
and being able to be nude myself now without feeling the way I used
to, or generally without feeling the way I used to--it's almost as
if now I don't care if there's another person or not. I'm not hiding
in the way I was.
A: Well, our time's up.
Gill: The analyst seems to have hit on something, but it's
not clear what it is. The idea that the analyst is watching her and
her husband in intercourse may be as close as she can come to a conscious
fantasy of intercourse with the analyst. Undoubtedly, additional meanings
are possible, but the data permit no more than speculation. One should,
however, consider another possible allusion to the recording. Patient
and analyst are performing in public.
The hour starts with a four-minute silence, followed by an account
of the difficulty the patient experiences in beginning to speak. She
then describes a vivid experience which occurred when the analyst
opened the door. She perceived him as impatient and critical, although
she says nothing about what she imagines he was impatient or critical
about. In retrospect, we know that a four-minute silence followed
this encounter at the door. The analyst allows this rather charged
opening to pass without comment. There follows an account of a situation
in which the patient is conflicted about asserting herself and taking
initiative, a report of a sexual experience in which she suddenly
became inhibited after feeling aroused, and a description of a dream
with probable allusions to the theme of conflict about initiative
in both the sexual and the analytic situations. The analyst makes
no response and the patient turns to other topics in which the same
theme seems clearly implied. When the hour is about two-thirds over
the analyst turns to the dream with a somewhat obscure remark suggesting
the sexual implications of its manifest content. The patient catches
the implication and there ensues a brief struggle in which each imputes
responsibility for the idea to the other. The patient then begins
to integrate the data on her own and expresses her distress at the
idea that she might explicitly fantasize a sexual relationship with
the analyst. One wonders what has made this possible. Perhaps just
the degree of initiative the analyst has taken has been enough to
enable the patient to reveal more. It seems unlikely that it is the
quality of his interventions that is responsible for the forward movement.
The hour ends with the analyst apparently returning to an enactment
of the struggle over initiative rather than an exploration of it.
A much earlier discussion of the dream
-- without preconceived ideas of its meaning, but with an eye to possible
allusions to the transference, bridging the issues of her difficulties
in getting started in the hour and in the sexual episode -- would
probably have been much more effective in promoting the analytic process.
We also emphasize that the initial, apparently superficial, and relatively
brief explicit reference to her experience of the relationship --
that is, the difficulty in getting started -- could have been the
analyst's first cue as to the nature of the transference issues warranting
exploration. In addition, had the analyst focused on it, the patient's
fleeting impression of him as standing impatiently at the door as
she entered (which is never mentioned again by either party) might
well have opened the way to an exploration of the principal issues
in the patient's experience of the interaction in this hour.
Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst
Chapter Six: On Entering the Inner Circle
In 1912 Ernest Jones proposed forming "the committee" of
six "loyal" and "conservative" analysts who would
guard the royal kingdom of psychoanalysis founded by Freud: Sandor
Ferenczi, Ernest Jones, Otto Rank, Hans Sachs, Karl Abraham, and Max
Eitingon. Freud was thrilled with the idea, and presented each of
the palace guards with an engraved antique Greek jewel from his collection,
which they mounted into gold rings and thus became, like Frodo in
Tolkien's Lord of the Ring, ring bearers. Freud described the
committee as a "secret council composed of the best and most
trustworthy among our men." He wrote to Jones saying that "this
committee would have to be strictly secret [his emphasis] in
its existence and in its actions."
Before Freud died, Anna Freud received
one of the rings from her father. She, too, kept up the idea of a
special group of men (she included no other women) who could be counted
upon to guard the sacred flame. Their existence was not public knowledge,
but it was known that she always maintained a special relation to
a powerful male figure. After the death of her father, the mantle
was passed to Ernest Jones, and when he died in 1958, to Willi Hoffer,
a Viennese analyst living in London. Upon Hoffer's death, in 1967,
Kurt Eissler became Anna Freud's closest confidant about matters having
to do with the inner workings of psychoanalysis.
For some time I had admired a group
of analysts whose scholarship or ideas I found exhilarating: Max Schur
and his thoughtful if somewhat tormented Freud Living and Dying;
Otto Isakower's strange papers on vision; the dazzling papers by Siegfried
Bernfeld on Freud's biography (they had been liberally used by Ernest
Jones in his three-volume biography); and the quirky, arcane books
and brilliant articles of Kurt Eissler, a psychiatrist and analyst,
the only one among the four still living and Anna Freud's confidant.
Kurt Eissler was clearly a member of
the inner circle of psychoanalysis. Moreover, he was rumored (falsely,
as it turned out) to have been close to Anna Freud's father as well.
There were many rumors circulating about Eissler, who was called the
pope of orthodox analysis. He would give no interviews. Hewould not
allow himself to be photographed. He was a hermit.What was not a legend
was that he had started and maintained the Freud Archives, the greatest
repository of Freud's letters in the world, but one whose content
was still largely kept secret, and he was the author of many serious
and absorbing books about psychoanalysis, published in both German
and English, such as the massive two-volume work on Goethe, a book
on Leonardo, two on Freud's troubled and gifted student, Viktor Tausk,
on Julius von Wagner-Jauregg's relationship to analysis, on Freud
at the University of Vienna, and still another on lay analysis. His
views could be eccentric. At the time, I did not think carefully about
what these works actually said in relation to my own beliefs, some
of which were very different from Eissler's. But more than anybody
else alive, Eissler was knowledgeable about the history of psychoanalysis,
and, I later learned, had hundreds of hours of tape recordings of
conversations with many of Freud's patients, including a famous early
patient, the Wolf Man. If anyone represented the link with Freud and
Freud's Vienna, it was the formidable Kurt Eissler.
When I first read Eissler's books,
shortly after I applied to the institute, I felt I was entering a
world of long ago and faraway. It was a feeling that appealed to me,
because it recreated the sensations I had had when reading European
scholarship during my student years in Paris. I had felt like this
when I read the great Buddhist scholar from Belgium, Etienne Lamotte,
for example, or the works of the French Indologist Louis Renou. The
excitement of seeing genuine scholarship in psychoanalysis provided
a link to my own past. I decided to write to Eissler about historical
matters in psychoanalysis that had already begun to interest me early
in my training. I was surprised and delighted when he answered me
and took my questions seriously. I wanted to know about Daniel Paul
Schreber (Schreber was a German high-court judge incarcerated in a
mental asylum for his "delusional" beliefs that he was being
persecuted and that he was the subject of bizarre medical experiments
designed to castrate him. Freud thought he had found the source of
these delusions in Schreber's unconscious homosexual fixations on
his father and his doctor, Paul Flechsig. In fact, his father had
subjected him as a child to orthopedic and psychological torture,
and Flechsig performed experimental castration on "hysterical"
women in the same asylum where Schreber was confined.), and more about
Wilhelm Fliess, and about Freud's early case histories.I greatly looked
forward to getting to know him.
We finally met in 1974, while I was
a candidate in Toronto, at an annual meeting of the American Psychoanalytic
Society in Denver, where I was presenting my first analytic paper
on "the mad Dr. Schreber." Eissler and I immediately hit
it off, although our friendship began on a curious note. I had never
seen Dr. Eissler, nor he me. But he was not difficult to recognize.
When I caught sight, of a tall, gaunt older man--at the time he was
in his late sixties--in the lobby of the hotel where we were staying,
looking like someone who had just stepped off the boat from Europe,
dressed severely in a black suit with an almost haunted look about
him, I knew it was Eissler.
And so I approached him. "Dr. Eissler,
I presume. I am Jeff Masson." Eissler was genuinely taken aback.
"How did you know it was me?" "Well, it was obvious."
"No, no, there is something else. There is something uncanny
about this." He did not seem entirely certain that I had not
used witchcraft to recognize him.
In many ways it was an unexpected friendship.
Eissler was much older, and seemed to be everything I was not: conservative
in his dress, brusque and apparently unfriendly in manner, spare in
speech. But what Eissler and I experienced together was, while completely
nonsexual, nonetheless romantic in some important sense of this word.
For one, it was shot through with fantasy. For another, we both behaved
as if we were somehow infatuated, both intellectually and emotionally.
Part of the reason was that our beliefs,
or in some people's views our prejudices, seemed to coincide. I had
a great need for loudly proclaiming mine and seeing if I could find
anybody who agreed with them. I rarely did. For example, I believed
that psychoanalysis was diametrically opposed to all of the major
ideas within classical psychiatry. At first I had expected, naively,
that other analysts would share my low opinion of psychiatry. It always
came as a disappointment to me to hear that a prominent analyst was
active in psychiatry, though in fact many were. I found it an even
greater shock to learn, for example, that the influential psychoanalyst
Edith Jacobson tried to induce a number of her analytic patients to
submit to electroshock treatment. I could not imagine a less analytic
procedure than electroshock, and I was convinced that other analysts
would agree. They did not. When analysts like Margaret Mahler used
psychiatric terms such as "predispositional deficiency"
to speak about children she considered "autistic" or "psychotic,"
I was disgusted, but I was convinced I was not alone. She greatly
admired Leo Kanner's work in this area, which I abhorred. It was not
only Mahler's language that I objected to; she believed, for example,
that infants, "with varying degrees of intensity of cathexis,
represent a body part for the mother, usually her illusory phallus."
I think, now, that I was indeed alone. But I desperately longed to
find a kindred spirit, and in Eissler I thought I had found such a
person, a man who loved and hated with the same intensity, though
Within minutes of our meeting, I was
telling the apparently enthralled Eissler all about my "prejudices"
regarding the more arcane realms of psychoanalytic theory-books, papers,
and analysts whom I positively loathed. If somebody I met talked with
rapture about the "object-relations" theories of Harry Guntrip
and Donald Fairbairn, or if they told me how much they loved Melanie
Klein's ideas, or spoke with enthusiasm about the works of Margaret
Mahler, or enthused over the "French Freud" and Jacques
Lacan's incoherent works, I knew we would probably have little in
common. My prejudices were wide and catholic: I could hate the "superficial"
American ego psychology of a Heinz Hartmann as much as any follower
of Jacques Lacan. But I also hated the Lacanians. (This hatred, I
hasten to add, was purely intellectual--it was based on ideas, not
on people whom I knew.) Terms that were in vogue, like Heinz Hartmann's
"average expectable environment," (in the real world, there
is no such thing), left me cold. Melanie Klein and her followers,
with their tendency to obliterate the real world, alarmed me most
I told Eissler, at that first meeting,
that I could remember reading Melanie Klein's Narrative of a Child
Analysis, an analysis of a ten-year-old boy, Richard, that Melanie
Klein conducted during the Second World War. There was a moment in
the book when Richard, the boy, told Mrs. Klein that he had had it
with her office. "Let's get out of this awful place," he
said. Melanie Klein told him that "this awful place represented
his inside which he felt to be awful because it was full of dead and
angry people and poison." Richard tried to escape to the garden.
His analyst followed him. Once outside, "Richard admired the
country, the hills and the sunshine." The poor child was tired
of hearing about psychoanalysis, and he begged Melanie Klein "not
to interpret in the garden." But his analyst was implacable,
and "she interpreted in a low voice that he did not want her
interpretations because they stood for the bad things she would give
him in contrast to the beautiful countryside." Well, yes. When
Richard attempted to dig up weeds from the flower beds, "Mrs.
K. interpreted that he was exploring Mrs. K.'s and Mummy's inside
and pulling out their babies." Richard picked up stones from
between the flowers and threw them angrily against the wall. Who can
blame him? Ralph Bion had gone so far as to deny that accurate memories
were any more valuable than inaccurate ones, an idea dear to the hearts
of psychoanalytically oriented literary critics as well. This was
in opposition to everything I believed most fiercely. I liked the
"sensible" critique of Klein made by Edward Glover and found
his works on technique valuable; the clarity of his writing appealed
to me enormously. The book by Ralph Greenson on psychoanalytic technique
seemed to me in the same tradition, and hence I liked it, as I did
the works of Otto Fenichel, Phyllis Greenacre, Robert Fliess, and
to some extent Lawrence Kubie and Bertram Lewin.
Eissler listened to all this with many
gestures of agreement, and seemed relieved at the extent to which
we seemed to agree, as if he too wanted a friend who shared certain
basic assumptions. He, too, had his list of favorite likes and dislikes
within psychoanalysis, and it was not long before we had established
that we shared many of the same biases. I was especially eloquent
on the books and analysts I detested, and Eissler clearly took considerable
pleasure in my open and animated manner of displaying this dislike
and expanding upon it without reserve. He seemed surprised that our
opinions coincided so often. He was not accustomed, in the world of
psychoanalytic politics, to meeting people who took no care to conceal
their real views. I was a true outsider, and I suspect this trait
appealed to Eissler. I had no fear of expressing myself, because I
was too young and too junior to hold any office or to be embroiled
in any kind of psychoanalytic factional politics. I was consequently
free to express my mind. And I did so, to Eissler's apparent joy,
over and over.
We sat talking in the coffee shop for
four hours. Then we moved into the lobby. I told Eissler my thesis
about Schreber, about how Freud was wrong to ignore the writings of
the father, and Eissler defended Freud. We were already arguing. But
there was a verve to Eissler and a joy in intellectual combat that
I had deeply missed in Toronto. He did not look at me suspiciously,
wondering about my motivation, he simply plunged into the historical
argument. It was exhilarating, and I felt that I was emerging from
an intellectual prison. In sympathy with my difficulties in Toronto,
Eissler told me one of his favorite episodes in training, Otto Isakower's
story of leading a group of psychoanalysts who were teaching reading
seminars. One of the teachers said, "I think it is indispensable
for the teacher of a reading seminar to have access to the complete
records of all the students in his class." Isakower answered
by telling the old story of the boy who brings home his report card
on which is written, "Murray smells," upon reading which
the father writes back, "Dear Teacher, My Murray is no violet.
You are not supposed to smell him, you are supposed to learn him!"
His iconoclastic spirit appealed to both of us.
Stanley Weiss, one of the organizers
of the conference and a pleasant man who had recently moved to Denver
from Chicago, saw us sitting together in the lobby and asked us to
attend a party he was giving. I wanted to, but Eissler declined. He
explained that he did not like social occasions, especially with analysts.
We went out for dinner by ourselves, spoke without interruption, and
the next day we met again for breakfast to continue our impassioned
That evening I asked Eissler if he would
like to listen to the fifteen-year-old guru, called Maharaj-ji, out
of simple curiosity. We went, and on the way back, an odd thing happened.
We were riding in a taxicab, and the driver asked me where we had
been. I told him, and he began a long, rambling conversation about
his son and gurus, and something of his life-and I was actually quite
fascinated and asked him a series of questions. Eissler sat in stony
silence. When we got out I turned to Eissler and said, "He was
an interesting man."
Eissler burst out, "He was not
the least bit interesting. You wasted our time. We could have been
talking about analysis." Eissler had very little time for small
talk, and for him, anything that did not deal directly with psychoanalysis
and its history fell into that category. As long as Eissler and I
were caught up in purely historical discussions, we were the perfect
conversation partners. But I saw that in just about any other matter,
our ideas would clash. I did not want to face this fact, because I
was getting too much intellectual pleasure from our talks, and I knew
that it could be protracted for years. Indeed, in a sense it was.
Eissler and I began a single-minded conversation that week in Denver
that continued for many years. But I also knew that our friendship
thrived in a kind of rarefied atmosphere. When reality intruded, we
both found that we had very different values. For Eissler, as I later
discovered, nothing, absolutely nothing, mattered more than psychoanalysis.
I came to think he would sacrifice anything, and especially anybody,
for what he saw as "the cause." Friendships were secondary
to analysis. This was like a perpetuation of Freud's attitude. Freud
was always talking about "die Sache," literally,
"the cause," which was the word he used for psychoanalysis.
Everything, for Freud, came after die Sache. And so it seemed
to be with Eissler.
At the conference, Eissler introduced
me to Otto Kernberg, the man who more or less invented the term "borderline
personality." I asked him if he was interested in the Schreber
case. "Not particularly," he answered. Eissler and I looked
at each other as if we had been struck. How could anybody not be interested
in the Schreber case? In retrospect, Kernberg was probably simply
attempting to avoid a passionate and to him possibly boring conversation
on Schreber. But afterward, Eissler and I shook our heads in disbelief
and analyzed his work in the light of this gap in his curiosity. Eissler
asked me what I thought of his writing, clearly hoping I would speak
my mind. I did.
"I think the term 'borderline'
borders on the obscene, and the ideas behind it are nonsense. He writes
horribly, and far too much. Besides which, he strikes me as much more
of a psychiatrist than a psychoanalyst. The whole idea of 'diagnosing'
is not very analytic. In any event, how could you be interested in
so-called borderline states, and not be interested in Schreber?"
Eissler and I were practically inseparable
at that meeting, and from then on, over the next four years of the
rest of my analytic training in Toronto, I wrote to him regularly.
We sent each other our papers, and I noticed that Eissler almost never
wrote something that was trivial. Whether I agreed with his ideas
or not, I had to recognize that he was always engaged in serious,
controversial, and significant research. When it came to Freud the
man, however, there was nothing too trivial for his close scrutiny.
I remember once, when we saw a silent film of Freud speaking in the
last year of his life to a childhood friend, Eissler wondered if it
would not be possible to analyze the movements of the mouth to discover
what words Freud was uttering at the time. No word from Freud, written,
remembered, or recorded was ever trivial to Eissler. What he felt
for Freud seemed to border on worship. At the time, what I felt for
Freud was only slightly less than what Eissler felt. I was completely
mesmerized by Freud's ability to write with extraordinary clarity.
It was a gift that few scientists have, and I loved it passionately.
This meant that I could feel complete contempt for lesser minds who
criticized Freud without having any of his gifts.
Slowly, over the years, my relationship
with Eissler became closer. But Eissler was a very formal man, and
remained so throughout our friendship. He never called me anything
except Professor Masson, and I never called him anything but Dr. Eissler.
I liked visiting Eissler in his home
in New York. His office was a delight to me: completely buried in
papers, articles, and books. What mattered most for me and seemingly
for Eissler during my visits was that we got to sit in his office
and talk psychoanalytic history. It is hard for me now, from this
distance, and with all that has happened in between, to recapture
the mood it put me in, but there is no doubt that I was completely
absorbed. I felt, rightly, that I had a great deal to learn from Eissler,
and I was a good and willing pupil. Somehow, too, it seemed "significant,"
something that had always been lacking in my life when I was a professor
of Sanskrit. Eissler and I could move, in one sentence, from some
obscure topic in the history of psychoanalysis to the nature of fear.
Why, I asked him, did people seem to seek out situations that actually
terrified them? "Ah," he would say, "you are asking
for the source of counterphobia. Did I ever show you the unpublished
discussion of this by Fenichel?" Or when I would talk about my
analytic training, and what I considered wrong with it, he would pull
out the minutes of the New York Psychoanalytic Society from the early
sixties, its heyday, and read with evident pleasure the eccentric
comments by Isakower.
When I said I wanted to know more about
the Wolf Man, he said he was delighted to hear it, and produced a
box of over one hundred tapes. "What is that?" I asked.
"My interviews with the Wolf Man. You are welcome to listen to
them." Over many years Eissler had met with the Wolf Man, and
had recorded all their conversations. He was hoping that someone would
come along and sort through the tapes and produce a book. I wanted
very much to do it. These were of course not the only tapes he had.
He had made a concerted effort to meet every patient of Freud who
was still alive, beginning in the early fifties, and he had succeeded
to a remarkable degree. He showed me hundreds and hundreds of tapes
of these interviews, and eventually let me listen to the ones I chose.
It was a veritable treasure trove of psychoanalytic history. Having
all these "toys," these distractions to play with, Eissler
and I had no need to understand each other, to find out more about
who the other person really was. We shared an interest, a hobby, really
it was more like an obsession for both of us. Eissler had something
I wanted: knowledge. I seemed to have something he wanted: passion.
There were many qualities in Eissler that I admired then (and still
do now): his scholarship, his generosity, his intelligence, his old-world
charm, his integrity, his bluntness, his honesty. But he held one
thing sacred, and hence beyond any criticism: Freud. I held nothing
sacred and nothing beyond criticism. And with this difference, our
friendship was bound to founder.
In Denver, I did not know that meeting
Eissler in this way would open many doors to me. I saw it as simply
a personal friendship, but as I realized many years later, Eissler
was, from the beginning, also interested in finding an "heir."
He was seen as remote and unapproachable, yet he had an aura of authority
about him that no American analyst shared. He was considered, rightly
so, to belong to a special group, access to which was barred to most
other analysts. It did not go unnoticed at this conference that I
was spending a great deal of time with Eissler, and that he obviously
enjoyed my company.
There is a hierarchy within psychoanalysis
that revolves around a proximity to Freud. The greatest prestige is
reserved for those closest to him. It is not unlike royalty. Everything
connected with "his" person is more or less sacred. It was
enough, to make an analytic point, to say the equivalent of "Le
roi le veut (It is the king's wish)," with reference to Freud,
to silence an opponent. Everybody, of course, considered his own views
to be the closest to those of the master. But only one person still
alive had the authority to confer divine acceptance. This person was
Anna Freud, Freud's daughter, who was closer to Freud than anybody
else, both personally and professionally. Anna Freud was a psychoanalyst
in her own right, and one with considerable prestige and stature.
She was particularly known for her analyses of children and for the
many papers she published in this field. One of her books, The
Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, published as early as 1936,
has attained the status of an analytic classic.
I certainly did not invent the notion
that psychoanalysis has always been rife with politics. Any memoir
of the golden period of analytic training in Vienna, during the twenties
and the thirties, will describe how the Viennese psychoanalytic world
was divided into "insiders" and "outsiders." Anna
Freud and Helene Deutsch were probably the two most powerful and most
feared women in the circle of insiders, because of their relationship
with Freud and also because both had been analyzed by him.
It was inevitable, given my friendship
with Kurt Eissler, that I would sooner or later meet Anna Freud. Once
the ball was set rolling, I was in demand everywhere in analytic circles--not
because I exhibited any inherent worthiness, but simply because I
was in with the right people, and I was clearly moving ahead.
Did I want to be an "insider"?
Yes and no. I had been raised on the fringe of many cultlike groups,
and I had always felt a hunger for a certain kind of closeness that
membership in such a group confers, a certain kind of solidarity,
for the warmth of belonging somewhere that was not part of the mainstream.
At the same time, even as a child I never felt that I, or for that
matter my parents, either, genuinely belonged. Our family was vegetarian,
long before it was common, and we were also alone in our involvement
in Indian mysticism. My parents did not really have a "home,"
for we moved a great deal, nor even a country: my father was born
in France, and my mother outside Vienna, but both lived part of their
childhood in what was then known as Palestine and then moved to the
United States. They did not identify themselves with America. Growing
up I felt both a certain disdain for an ordinary sense of belonging,
and a hunger or a nostalgia for it that has never entirely gone away.
It was the same for me within psychoanalysis.
And now, slowly, I was beginning to find a certain core group for
whom I could feel some admiration. The fact that it was historically
connected with Freud gave it the aura of almost mysterious authority
that I craved. Eissler would bring me to Anna Freud's house in Hampstead,
England, and I would sit there and listen to the gossip, mainly about
how one or another officer of the International Psychoanalytical Association
was not acceding to Anna Freud's desire to turn her Hampstead Clinic
into a fully accredited institute within the International. I was
on her side in these battles, but they really did not concern me,
also had a parochial feel to them. Most of all I enjoyed simply being
trusted enough to be present. I felt like a child being permitted
to listen to an adult conversation, albeit a passionless one. Not
only did Anna Freud herself seem to be without emotions, she also
expected others to be so. I don't think it was considered in good
form to show too great an enthusiasm or too violent a dislike. Paradoxically,
I am certain this is one reason Anna Freud tolerated me. My passions
seemed to startle her, but they obviously also intrigued her.
At the same time, being more or less
part of an inner circle meant that I made automatic enemies, or at
least awakened jealousy and envy in those who, rejected by the circle,
felt rightly or wrongly that I did not have as great a claim to this
circle as they did. One analyst asked me bluntly, "Why you? Why
should you belong to this inner circle, when I cannot? Why should
you accompany Eissler on his visits to Anna Freud, when Eissler still
does not recognize me? I wrote Anna Freud and asked to see some letters
in the house. I was given the brush-off. So what's so special about
you?" It was not a question I could answer to his satisfaction,
but I could feel the anger with which it was raised, and knew that
I was, whether I liked it or not, already embroiled in psychoanalytic
In later years, because of Eissler's
patronage, I was well received wherever I went in analytic circles--I
was also in demand. For example, the prestigious Group for the Advancement
of Psychiatry asked me to several of their meetings. I felt completely
bewildered at being there, and I am sure the feeling was mutual. Most
of those present chaired departments of psychiatry and knew one another
well from previous meetings, always held in some elegant "retreat."
The publications that eventuated from these groups were often influential
in setting the agenda for psychiatry in the years to come.
I had been invited by Sydney Furst and
Mortimer Ostow, both psychoanalysts, to the group on religion and
psychiatry. I found them appealing because they both seemed to have
a slightly cynical attitude toward their profession and their colleagues.
I thought we had more in common than we actually did. I liked talking
to Furst and Ostow at a personal level, but as soon as group discussions
began, I knew they were in a different world, one I could not abide.
Ostow was sarcastic about cults, and I appreciated his wit, and agreed
with his views about Hinduism, for instance, about which I knew quite
a bit because of my background. "Jeff," he told me, "I
am now convinced that the magic powers claimed by an Indian yoga are
only a defense mechanism, a means of retaliating against a brutal
external reality by setting up an internal reality that is in stark
contrast, where helplessness, for example, is replaced by a feeling
of being all-powerful. In other words, for me, magic is just a way
of spitting at a bad past."
"I agree totally," I told
him, and proceeded to give him some examples from the childhoods of
Indian "sages" I knew about. All sages, I concluded, had
been badly hurt in childhood, and they were escaping into a world
of fantasy where they could compensate (I had just written a paper
entitled "Melancholia and the Buddha"). It was fine as fantasy,
but more dangerous when it was believed. The truth was, I was interested
in the pathology of religious concern. "Jeff," Sydney Furst
said, "you have to be careful of your tendency to pathologize
At the morning meeting of our group,
Ostow began by saying he believed that each of us "acts out in
current life a pattern of gratification initially established in early
childhood." But later that day he gave me a paper he had written
that set my internal alarm bells ringing. "It was not very long
before Freud learned that the extravagant stories offered by neurotics
as personal history of traumatic significance were actually fantasy
created by the distorting effects of a pathologically active instinctual
drive." I was chilled when I read that "Malmo studied several
patients who had sustained surgical removal of frontal lobe tissue
for treatment of mental illness," and the tenor became even more
ominous when he referred to the "full and perceptive discussion
of the effects of lobotomy upon personality as given by Freeman and
Watts in the recent second edition of their book Psychosurgery."
I was at a meeting listening to a psychoanalyst who had praised a
book on psychosurgery. How had I come to be here?
In fact, Sydney Furst was right: I was
interested then in the pathology of everything, not least in the pathology
of just such meetings as the one I was attending. I was having lunch
one day at the meeting with one of the younger chairmen of a department
of psychiatry. I told him my theory about this.
"In what way are you to be let
off the hook?" he asked me. "What about your pathology in
attending these meetings? You're not just a cultural anthropologist,
studying the curious behavior of the natives, are you?"
"You're right. That's actually
an interesting point you raise."
"Uh-huh. But why stop there? As
long as we're talking pathology, why not inquire about your pathological
interest in psychoanalysis? I mean, it must have some explanation,
"I would have to agree with you."
"In fact, can I ask you why you
are so interested in pathology, why you are so critical of everything?
Is this not subject to analysis?"
"Fair enough." But I was unable
then to take the step that would actually take me out. In fact, I
had no business being there. I was completely miscast. My luncheon
companion was trying to tell me this, and I could not face it, because
I was already too comfortable with the companionable lunches, meetings
with colleagues, trips to other cities. I still did not want to pay
the price of membership, which was that critical faculties had to
be focused strictly on what French analysts call "the other"
and not on the group doing the analysis.
I was teaching in Berkeley in 1979,
but the next year I returned to Toronto for six months. I was invited
to give a "scientific" paper to one of the meetings there.
The topic was Freud's abandonment of the seduction theory in the light
of the previously unpublished letters between Freud and Fliess, and
in particular the case of Emma Eckstein, one of Freud's first analytic
patients, and the first woman to practice psychoanalysis. "Can
you explain the connection between your own analysis and your interest
in Eckstein and Freud?" was the first question. Quiet laughter.
Dr. William Stauble was in the chair. To my surprise (and relief)
he responded quickly that personal questions of this kind were out
of place in a scientific meeting. But it was no use. "Your published
paper about Freud and antiSemitism is just as bad as the paper you
gave us today. It is totally useless and all right-thinking people
will see the flaws in both immediately. Have you anything to say?"
I was more embarrassed than angered,
and was glad to leave. Later that evening I went out with Mike Allen
and Schiffer and two other candidates of Schiffer. I expected fireworks,
but it was a muted meeting, and I was disappointed that after so many
years one could face one's nemesis with little more than boredom and
impatience to be gone.
Through Eissler I met many of the people
who had had some direct connection with Freud, such as Helene Schur,
an analyst and the wife of Max Schur, whose book on Freud I so admired;
and Marianne Kris, the daughter of Freud's old pediatrician friend,
Oscar Rie, with whom he played the card game tarok. She became a distinguished
analyst and was married to Ernst Kris, also an analyst, who was influential
at Yale (he died in 1957 at the young age of fifty-six). I cannot
pretend that intellectual snobbery held no appeal for me. Although
there was no official connection between psychoanalysis and the university,
I was, then, very much taken with the idea of the university, and
I liked the possibility of linking the two realms. But I did not realize
at the time how well connected this world of prestigious analysts
was outside the university, and just how important a role money played.
The analysts I was meeting now invariably lived in expensive homes
and socialized with other wealthy analysts. They dressed well, owned
fancy cars or boats, and gave elaborate parties. They occupied prestigious
posts in departments of psychiatry, hospitals, or their analytic institutes.
Many of these analysts were not only preoccupied with their own wealth,
but were also concerned with the status of their patients, particularly
if these patients happened to be particularly wealthy or famous.
It was usual in the days when psychoanalysis
enjoyed enormous prestige for celebrities to seek out leading analysts
as their psychiatrists. Thus Marilyn Monroe went to see Ralph Greenson,
as he was fond of telling just about anybody who would listen. Why
he would boast of it is a puzzle, given her tragic outcome and his
none-too-savory role in it. He was one of the many men who did not
believe her when she said that she had been sexually abused as a child,
though there is no doubt now that she was. (Greenson was fascinated
with my work on the Freud/Fliess letters, especially the ones concerning
the sexual abuse of children, and I wonder if this was not the result
of a bad conscience toward her and other patients whose memories he
stigmatized as fantasies.) Monroe was also in analysis with Marianne
Kris, who saw her for forty-seven sessions, and then sent her to the
Payne-Whitney Clinic in New York. The significance of this for psychoanalysis
was that Monroe left a substantial part of her estate to further the
work of Anna Freud, whom she had seen briefly for analytic help in
1956 (Anna Freud wrote about her that she was paranoid with schizophrenic
traits), and this bequest was undoubtedly achieved through her analysts,
who were intimately connected to Anna Freud.
It is not, in fact, uncommon for analysts
to solicit, usually through roundabout methods, former patients for
money to support analytic projects. Chairs of psychoanalysis in medical
schools at various universities have been partially endowed through
former patients. This was also the case with the Centenary Fund, named
for the centenary, in 1956, of Freud's birth. Romi Greenson had organized
this fund for psychoanalytic research in Los Angeles. The fund's chief
donor was Lita Annenberg Hazen, naturally a patient in psychoanalysis.
As an insider, I would hear about these
solicitations quite directly. I remember disagreeing with other psychoanalysts
over the matter. I felt then, and still do now, that it is an exploitation
of the emotional relationship with a patient to solicit money, in
whatever form, directly or indirectly. It seems to me that the patient,
or ex-patient, is in no position, emotionally speaking, to refuse.
Even if the solicitation is subtle or "tactful," I find
it wrong and morally distasteful. Many analysts argued that patients
who had themselves benefited from psychoanalysis should and could
help others to benefit as well. I see nothing wrong with a patient
offering money spontaneously. But to ask for it overtly, or even covertly,
is to me a coercive act.
I am by no means suggesting that all
analysts extract money from their patients, but it would be a rare
analyst who does not know about the practice. Has any analyst of note
ever objected to this publicly? Has any analyst ever written about
it, or raised questions about it in print? I know of none. The only
explanation I can think of is that the practice goes back to Freud.
Later, when I was working in the Freud Archives, I saw many letters
that make it quite clear that Freud expected, even solicited, funds
from former patients. Indeed, the New York Times of March 6,
1990, quotes from a letter that Freud wrote to a patient, the American
psychiatrist Horace Frink, in 1922, in which he attempts to persuade
him to leave his wife and marry one of Frink's own wealthy patients.
"Your complaint that you cannot grasp your homosexuality implies
that you are not yet aware of your phantasy of making me a rich man.
If matters turn out all right let us change this imaginary gift into
a real contribution to the Psychoanalytic Funds." Of course he
was not asking for the money for himself, but for psychoanalysis,
and hence he would no doubt defend the practice as ultimately being
in the patient's best interest as well. But I could not agree.
In the summer of 1973, I met Victor
Calef, an older analyst from San Francisco, when I was in Paris at
my first meeting of the International Psychoanalytical Association.
He was talking with Ed Weinshel, one of the officers of the association,
and when I was introduced to them both, I said that I had just returned
from hearing Heinz Kohut speak.
"What did you think of him?"
"I thought he was awful beyond
words. Small wonder that he speaks of narcissistic pathology; he was
one of the most narcissistic people I have ever listened to. [Analysts
are fond of using diagnostic terms as insults in everyday conversation.]
God help the person who asked a question. He never stopped his answer.
He could talk for hours without pause. And most of what he says is
needlessly obscure and pompous."
"Good for you," Calef said.
"You know, a couple of years ago, Kohut and I were at an analytic
conference together, and found ourselves in the same hotel elevator.
Kohut turned to me and said, 'Vic, I have something important to show
you, in my room. Please come upstairs.' I told him I was very busy
at that moment, but he insisted that it was important. So I went.
When we got to his room he threw open the door and invited me to look
inside. 'What do you see?' he said, with a broad smile. 'Nothing,'
I told him. An empty room. 'Look again. Describe what you see.' I
did. 'Well, a bed, a table with some flowers on it, and-' But he stopped
me. 'Yes, you have got it. The flowers. You see, Vic, I love beauty
so much, that when I travel, the first thing I do is go out and buy
flowers to keep in my room.' I waited, but there was no punch line.
He had dragged me up to his room to show me what a great aesthetic
sense he had. In his eyes it was important for me to see his
sense of beauty. You're right," Calef concluded, "he's a
Weinshel went on to give some stories
of his own, then it was my turn, and within minutes the three of us
were talking like old friends. Here, I thought, was the group I had
been waiting for -people not afraid to speak their minds. They told
me they belonged to a group of like-minded analysts and that I should
make a point of meeting these men: Brian Bird from Cleveland, Samuel
Lipton from Chicago, Leonard Shengold from New York. I was thrilled
at the notion that there was a small band of intellectual rebels within
psychoanalysis-so thrilled, in fact, that I momentarily forgot W.
H. Auden's quip, that whenever more than two people come together
you have the beginnings of gangsterism. I liked the slightly jaded
tone they used, the fact that both clearly were successful analysts,
and yet felt isolated from the majority of their peers in San Francisco,
where they were from. They gave me the feeling that they were not
easily taken in, and of course best of all, they seemed ready to accept
me. Everything I told them made them give each other a look, as if
to say, "He is one of us. We have found a brother." It never
occurred to me, until much later, that I might find myself critical
of their work, once I knew it, or that they would disapprove
just as strongly of mine. I just assumed that if we disliked the same
things, we were bound to like the same things as well. When Vic Calef
told me that he knew well and was a great fan of Siegfried Bernfeld,
one of my idols, I knew we were destined to be friends. (In the fifties
Bernfeld had the courage to write about the corruption rife in psychoanalytic
training, even if he used veiled language, and he had done magnificent
and fearless research on Freud's life, refusing to back down when
Anna Freud asked him not to publish the results of his work on Freud's
They asked me if I had read much of
Kohut, and when I said I had, they asked for my criticism. I was only
too happy to give it. When I finished, they suggested I write it up
for one of the international meetings, and in fact I immediately began
working on an article that would later appear in the International
Journal of Psychoanalysis as "A Critical Examination of the
New Narcissism." That evening I also told Vic Calef about my
horrendous analysis with Schiffer. He was more than sympathetic, responding
with a horror story of his own, his analysis with Emil (Windy) Windholz
in San Francisco. This led to an engaging discussion about false mentors,
flawed parents, and bad analysts, and how one could benefit nonetheless
from a terrible, even a traumatic, experience. Of course one did not
seek them out, but there was a way to benefit from the most awful
experience. I felt I had found a true friend, and had no inkling that
this very friendship would provide me with just such a bad experience
that I could learn from.