None of us will escape the experience of personal loss, illness, aging, or mortality. Yet, psychoanalysis seems to shy away from a discussion of these core human experiences. Existential vulnerability is painful and we all avoid this awareness in different ways. However, when analysts fail to explore the topic of mortality, their own and their patients, they may foreclose an important exploration and short-change patient and therapist. Entering Night Country focuses on the existential condition, and explores how it penetrates professional lives, analytic work, and theoretical formulations.
Each chapter explores this topic, shifting the lens from analytic process, to include theoretical assumptions, and professional communities. Stephanie Brody shows how the analytic process is a journey, no less profound than the epic journeys depicted in the classic literature of Homer and repeated in the patient’s own heroic and painful stories. Weaving literary references into the clinical experience of psychoanalysis, Brody reveals the transformative power of the analytic process for the patient and for the analyst. By relating the ancient past to our current struggles, psychoanalyst and patient together are guided to a destination, a life of meaning in the universe of possibilities.
Clinical vignettes and personal reflections intersect with motifs from the epic poems and fantasy fiction, where the despair of loss and trauma do not extinguish the wish for change and the search for intimacy. Entering Night Country highlights the common themes that arise for patient and analyst as any person entering an unknown territory. It is intended for psychoanalysts, psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapists, and mental health clinicians. It will also be accessible to those outside the clinical profession, even to individuals who have little understanding of psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis is a voyage through paradoxical, transitional space, real and unreal, personal and professional, serious and playful, hyper-real and make believe, exhilarating and mournful. In this extraordinarily well-written and deeply moving book, Stephanie Brody guides the reader on a feelingful and evocative journey through liminal psychoanalytic space searching for the pearls of change and meaning and pausing long enough to take in the poignancy of each existential moment of vulnerability and loss. - Lewis Aron, Ph.D. is director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis
This is an unusual and deeply rewarding book. Although psychoanalysis was, in a sense, founded on myth (Oedipus) and on narratives (free association) Stephanie Brody takes us on a new, deep and intense voyage through many mythic narratives. This is not tourism. It is more like battle, ordeal, service to ideals of care, and witnessing.
This is an exquisitely written book. It is a pleasure to read and so to encounter with grace and kindness the hard stories of our clinical work. As in the stories in classical myth, a clinical journey is full of trap doors, knives, cuts, battles, and ordeals of loss and suffering. The analyst must risk deep disruption along with, though also differently from, the analysand.
We need more writing like Brody’s. We need to be able to speak to others in our field about the demands of this work and above all of its unpredictability. This would be part of our individual self-care as healers. This book also calls out to our field, as a group, to be better able to hold the complexity of the analyst’s state. - Adrienne Harris, New York University
This beautifully written book offers a highly personal account of the experience of being a psychoanalyst, deeply committed to confronting death, separation, and the intrinsic impermanence of life. The author illuminates her multifaceted thesis with a myriad of thoughts and images drawn from classical and modern literature and with brilliantly vivid, succinct vignettes from her clinical experience. Entering Night Country invites readers to share the author’s reflections and to extend them with their own. A marvelous read. - Anton O. Kris, MD, Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and Professor of Psychiatry, part-time, Harvard Medical School.
Introduction. The Subtle Art of Psychoanalysis. Pearl Fishers. On the Edge. The Oldest Stories in the World. The Other Third. Brunelleschi's Dome. Entering Night Country. Termination. Omnipotent Illusion. The Immortal Wound
When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.
The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.
But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.