18 Chapters
Medium 9781782200727

Chapter Eleven: Nancy Chodorow (United States)

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Nancy Chodorow is a training analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute; a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; and professor emerita of sociology at University of California, Berkeley. She has written on gender and sexuality, Loewald, the American independent tradition, comparative theory, and psychoanalysis and social science. Her most recent books include The Power of Feelings and Individualizing Gender and Sexuality. She is in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

Present: Nancy Chodorow (NC), Kerry Malawista (KM), Bob Winer (BW)

After making important contributions to the field of feminist sociology, particularly regarding mothering and gender, Nancy Chodorow turned to the study of psychoanalysis. Throughout our interview with Dr Chodorow, we heard the many ways in which her academic sensibility informs her understanding of patients. Her energetic, curious mind and incisive sense of humour have infused all her work.

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Chapter Thirteen: Jay Greenberg (United States)

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Jay Greenberg, PhD is a training and supervising analyst at the William Alanson White Institute and editor of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly. He is co-author with Stephen Mitchell of Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory, and author of Oedipus and Beyond: A Clinical Theory. In 2015, he received the Mary S. Sigourney Award.

 

Present: Jay Greenberg (JG), Kerry Malawista (KM), Bob Winer (BW)

It was early June 2014 when we travelled to New York City to meet with Jay Greenberg at his East Village apartment. We had a lively dialogue with him in his spacious living room, only interrupted by breaks for bagels, lox, and coffee. Dr Greenberg has a rigorous and incisive mind, and he clearly enjoys grappling with the many issues of modern psychoanalysis, both theoretical and clinical.

In our response to the interview with Rosemary Balsam, we talked about the shift in the focus of psychoanalytic attention away from what we think, to how we think. Dr Balsam had said that she wanted to give back to her patients a sense of how their minds worked under all the different circumstances. Dr Greenberg describes here how he's much more interested in facilitating a particular attitude towards people's own minds, how they think, how they process experience, and he illustrates this with the case example of the young woman who couldn't hold on to her own train of thought. While Dr Chodorow spoke of the importance of helping patients to organise their historical personal narratives, the influences and events over the course of their lifetimes, here Dr Greenberg is focused on keeping track of how mental processes unfold in the short term, over a few days in the young woman's life. He described how she was able to interrupt her perseverant hatred of her boyfriend that weekend to make a link between what she was doing with him, to the discussion she'd had two days earlier in therapy about being her mother's agent. What seems to have been important to Dr Greenberg wasn't the specific connection between attitudes towards her mother and towards her boyfriend, but rather that she was paying attention to how her mind was working, and could use that to swim to shore. It's a different way of working.

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Chapter Seven: Salman Akhtar (United States)

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Salman Akhtar, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College, and training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. He has served on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and Psychoanalytic Quarterly. His seventy-five books include sixteen solo-authored, as well as fifty-one edited books, in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. He has received numerous awards, the most recent being the prestigious Sigourney Award (2012) for outstanding contributions to psychoanalysis.

 

Present:

Salman Akhtar (SA), Kerry Malawista (KM), Bob Winer (BW)

In 2015, we returned to the New York meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association where we met with our friend and colleague, Salman Akhtar, at his hotel. Dr Akhtar, always in demand as a speaker, had come to New Directions in Writing (a programme that the editors co-chair in Washington, DC) on several occasions, so we were prepared for an engaging and lively interview. He didn't disappoint!

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Introduction

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What is it like to be a working psychoanalyst? This is the question that set us on our quest. What do analysts experience in the course of meeting with their patients? How do they think about what they're doing?

What is it like for them to take account of themselves? To manage rough spots, to lose ground and try to recapture it? To feel appreciated and then to feel devalued? To feel betrayed? To try to find ways to do what's possible? To feel responsibility for someone's life while working to maintain your own balance? We decided to have discussions with a number of analysts from different parts of the world and from different theoretical orientations.

We asked various colleagues whom they thought would be good for us to interview. Our only criteria were that the people be English-speaking and open about their experience. Their recommendations worked out really well.

In the end, we invited about twenty-five people to meet with us, and twenty-one consented. After developing a set of interview questions, we shared them in advance with the interviewees to give them time to think about their responses and to recall significant moments from their practices. The questions appear in the Appendix, and while we generally followed that list, we did adapt it a bit in response to the flow of the interview. The meetings typically lasted two to three hours, and a couple of them stretched over four hours. We recorded them and had them transcribed. Our total transcribed text was 440,000 words, which we edited down to about a quarter of that length for this book.

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Chapter Seventeen: Donald Moss (United States)

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Donald Moss, PhD has been in private practice in New York City for over forty years. He is the author of Hating in the First Person Plural (2003), Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man (2012), and At War with the Obvious (in press), and over fifty articles. He is on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Quarterly and the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

 

Present: Donald Moss (DM), Kerry Malawista (KM), Bob Winer (BW)

In September 2014, we travelled by train to New York City to meet with Don Moss. We entered his modern Greenwich Village office, and there in the middle of the room was an oversized black leather couch. Attached to the back of the couch, where the patient's head would lie, were blue fibreglass wings—the kind you would expect to see on a fast sports car. It wasn't the last time that we discovered that Dr Moss has a distinct way of thinking and a mind of his own.

It is a curious circumstance that when people remember the striking moments from their analyses, they are often times when the analyst was in one way or another “human”, and these are generally non-interpretive events that in one way or another express the analyst's interest in the person. From the analysts’ point of view, these would probably not be the most memorable occasions in their work—for analysts, those tend to be moments when an understanding unexpectedly crystallises: “Oh, that's what that's about!” But the patient's response reflects something Dr Moss said, “I think they are alert to you as a person more than you as a speaking person.” There was such a moment for Dr Moss, in his first session with his first analyst: “At some point as I was telling him about this crashing stuff, he kind of closed his eyes as though to indicate it was practically unbearable how much this was, and it was a very, very sympathetic gesture. And I thought, yeah, this is what I want.” Dr Greenberg, in another first session, said to a patient, “Your life seems grey,” which seemed to touch the patient very deeply, and led to the patient deciding to work with him. Obviously, such moments can't be contrived, they will only feel real if they're spontaneous. A patient, narcissistically damaged and quite stuck in his treatment, had just bought a new car. His analyst, with some enthusiasm, asked to see it, and they went outside to check it out. The patient felt sceptical about the enthusiasm, thought it a bit forced and out of character for his analyst, but he appreciated at that moment how hard his analyst was trying to make contact with him, even against his own grain, and it stuck as a very significant moment in the analysis.

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