1st Edition

Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst's Life Experience When the Personal Becomes Professional

Edited By Steven Kuchuck Copyright 2014
    288 Pages
    by Routledge

    288 Pages
    by Routledge

    2015 Gradiva Award Winner

    Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience explores how leaders in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy address the phenomena of the psychoanalyst’s personal life and psychology. In this edited book, each author describes pivotal childhood and adult life events and crises that have contributed to personality formation, personal and professional functioning, choices of theoretical positions, and clinical technique.

    By expanding psychoanalytic study beyond clinical theory and technique to include a more careful examination of the psychoanalyst’s life events and other subjective phenomena, readers will have an opportunity to focus on specific ways in which these events and crises affect the tenor of the therapist’s presence in the consulting room, and how these occurrences affect clinical choices. Chapters cover a broad range of topics including illness, adoption, sexual identity and experience, trauma, surviving the death of one’s own analyst, working during 9/11, cross cultural issues, growing up in a communist household, and other family dynamics.

    Throughout, Steven Kuchuck (ed) shows how contemporary psychoanalysis teaches that it is only by acknowledging the therapist’s life experience and resulting psychological makeup that analysts can be most effective in helping their patients. However, to date, few articles and fewer books have been entirely devoted to this topic. Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience forges new ground in exploring these under-researched areas. It will be essential reading for practicing psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, those working in other mental health fields and graduate students alike.

    Kuchuck, Introduction. Part I: Early Life Events, Crises, and Influences. Bjorklund, How Betty and Vincent Became Sally and Scott. Orbach. I Wanted the Stuff of Secrets to Be in the Light. Atlas, Sex, Lies and Psychoanalysis. Slochower. The Professional Idiom and the Psychoanalytic Other. Hirsch. Emerging from the Oppositional and the Negative. Frank. Out from Hiding. Ornstein, Reflections on the Development of My Analytic Subjectivity. Ullman,The Personal Is Political, the Political Is Personal: On the Subjectivity of an Israeli Psychoanalyst. Sherman, Sweet Dreams Are Made of These: Or, How I Came Out and Came into My Own. Part II: Later Life Events, Crises, and Developmental Passages. Eigen, Moments That Count. Kuchuck, Guess Who’s Going to Dinner? On the Arrival of the Uninvited Third. Ringstrom, Becoming an Analyst: At Play in Three Acts. Glassman, Botticelli, Perspectives on Gay Fatherhood: Emotional Legacies and Clinical Reverberations. Grill, The Importance of Fathers. Mendelsohn, Working Through Separation: Personal and Clinical Reflections. Zindel, A Bird That Thunders: An Analysis with Emmanuel Ghent. Pines, Stroke and the Fracturing of the Self: Rebuilding a Life and a Practice. Bergmann, Psychoanalysis in Old Age: the Patient and the Analyst


    Steven Kuchuck is a faculty member, supervisor, and is on the Board of Directors at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. He is a practicing psychoanalyst in Manhattan, New York. He is also co-editor of the journal Psychoanalytic Perspectives and Associate Editor of the Relational Perspectives Book Series published by Routledge.

    "...very little light has been shone on the sometimes-dark recesses of the lives of therapists and how these lives might inform their work. That is, with only a few exceptions, until now. With contributions from 18 analysts across 288 pages this intimate book invites the reader into the frank and often-vulnerable real life narratives of some of the leading relational psychoanalysts of the day...It opens the door and offers permission for therapists to step into the light and do so in the service of both their own development and that of their clients or patients." - Brad McLean, Contemporary Psychotherapy

    "In this stunning volume of eloquent contributions by senior psychoanalysts, Steven Kuchuck provides a space for the timely exploration of how our personal life events inevitably saturate the uniquely personal therapeutic ethos we each struggle to develop. His prose are fresh and engaging, the choice of contributors is wise, and the papers themselves are, at times, nothing short of inspiring. This is a book brimming over with the personal insights of those who have spent a lifetime writing about others. It has been a long time coming, and its arrival is most welcome!" - Jody Messler Davies, Ph.D, Clinical Professor of Psychology of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

    "Perhaps psychoanalysts are finally ready to admit their need to know what actually goes on in other analysts' minds as they work through their own painful pasts and live through their own tragedies and conflicts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know how others reflect on these struggles and integrate them with their clinical work? Fortunately Steven Kuchuck has produced this book, and assembled a set of such reflections from a diverse and thoughtful group of analysts. The result is immensely stimulating and often profound, an aid to all of us who have imagined a more complex role for analytic subjectivity, a more compassionate and honest version of the practice to which we are dedicated."- Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D. author, Shadow of the Other (Routledge, 1998), Clinical Professor of Psychology of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

    "Overall, Clinical Implications of The Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience is an engaging read of interest to professionals who are looking to step out of their own figurative shoes and see where their colleagues are coming from. Steven Kuchuck aimed to create an academic space devoted to the lived experiences of clinicians and I think that through this compilation of essays he was successful in accomplishing this."
    -Phillipe Kleefield, New York University

    "Steven Kuchuck has brought together a group of authors who courageously, authentically and skillfully turn their reflective lens on significant personal developmental and life events that have contributed to the shaping of their subjectivities, selection and development of theories, clinical choices and ways of "being" within the psychoanalytic arena. This volume is a captivating, edifying, emotionally touching read for all levels of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists." - James L. Fosshage, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Psychology at New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Co-founder, National Institute for the Psychotherapies.

    "In one of the most gripping stories in this book, Anna Ornstein notes, "The practice of reserving something of oneself from the clutches of an institution…is not an incidental mechanism of defense but rather an essential constituent of the self." Many of the compelling stories in Kuchuck’s extraordinary collection illustrate our struggle as individuals, and as a field, to affirm ourselves in face of something deeply institutionalized in psychoanalytic culture: Hiding the analyst’s complex, multiple subjectivity behind sometimes legitimate, but often highly questionable, assumptions about protection, privacy, and effective analytic process. Though psychoanalysis is easiest to critique in its classical, conservative guise, the book’s subtle stories reveal how psychoanalytic culture—even in contemporary, relational and self-psychological forms—often ritualizes and sanctifies the exposure of the patient, and the hiding of the analyst." - Malcolm Owen Slavin, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis.

    "In this unforgettable book, Steven Kuchuck brings us personal stories by therapists about experiences that shaped their subjectivity and professional development. The authors are senior clinicians and theoreticians; all adept at thinking and writing about the inner and outer worlds and the spaces between. I couldn't put this book down." - Linda Hopkins, Ph.D.

    "It should be obvious that a two-person point of view genuinely implies that there are two persons in the room, each with a complicated life history that contributes to shaping what transpires in the session.Yet all too often, the two-person viewpoint remains rarified, a theoretical position but not a personal one. This book provides an important corrective to this tendency. The contributors include a number of the most prominent writers in our field, as well as some talented younger writers, and all provide an admirably personal and reflective perspective on therapeutic practice. This is a genuinely valuable contribution, one that will richly reward the reader and provide both inspiration and insight." - Paul L. Wachtel, Ph. D., CUNY Distinguished Professor, City College and CUNY Graduate Center

    "Kuchuck’s new collection brings the hopefulness of human narrative into the psychoanalytic collective consciousness, allowing us to recover sidelined parts of self as active agents with the power to decide for ourselves what it means to be a real person and a good psychoanalyst. Whether it is Galit Atlas’s reclamation of herself as a woman and as a sexual being, Irwin Hirsch’s ability to turn his failures and disappointments into generative learning opportunities, or Anna Ornstein’s tenacious ability to turn the most unspeakable tragedy into a life-affirming ideology, the stories told in this book remind us again and again that we have the power to author our own lives." -Rachel Sopher,  DIVISION | REVIEW WINTER 2014

    "Each of the writers included here understands that the work of analysis occurs only within the shifting and often unexpected currents of personal experience, which pull us off our 'professional' footing into the confounding depths of our own histories. Of course, this is necessarily the case when it comes to the work of psychoanalysis which, like the navel of the dream, finally outruns all professional 'technique' and reaches down into the unknown. [...] The essays gathered together here, which offer moving testimony to the professional impact of a wide range of personal experience [...] make a significant contribution to this autobiographical strand in the literature. [...] Kuchuck considers his collection a kind of celebration [...] [A] rich collection of essays" -David H. Thurn, L.C.S.W, Ph.D., Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 2015