1st Edition

The Psychoanalytic Ear and the Sociological Eye
Toward an American Independent Tradition

ISBN 9780367134211
Published July 14, 2019 by Routledge
316 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

In The Psychoanalytic Ear and the Sociological Eye: Toward an American Independent Tradition, Nancy J. Chodorow brings together her two professional identities, psychoanalyst and sociologist, as she also brings together and moves beyond two traditions within American psychoanalysis, naming for the first time an American independent tradition. The book's chapters move inward, toward fine-tuned discussions of the theory and epistemology of the American independent tradition, which Chodorow locates originally in the writings of Erik Erikson and Hans Loewald, and outward toward what Chodorow sees as a missing but necessary connection between psychoanalysis, the social sciences, and the social world.

Chodorow suggests that Hans Loewald and Erik Erikson, self-defined ego psychologists, each brings in the intersubjective, attending to the fine-tuned interactions of mother and child, analyst and patient, and individual and social surround. She calls them intersubjective ego psychologists—for Chodorow, the basic theory and clinical epistemology of the American independent tradition. Chodorow describes intrinsic contradictions in psychoanalytic theory and practice that these authors and later American independents address, and she points to similarities between the American and British independent traditions.

The American independent tradition, especially through the writings of Erikson, points the analyst and the scholar to individuality and society. Moving back in time, Chodorow suggests that from his earliest writings to his last works, Freud was interested in society and culture, both as these are lived by individuals and as psychoanalysis can help us to understand the fundamental processes that create them. Chodorow advocates for a return to these sociocultural interests for psychoanalysts. At the same time, she rues the lack of attention within the social sciences to the serious study of individuals and individuality and advocates for a field of individuology in the university.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

I. The American Independent Tradition: Loewald, Erikson, and the (Possible) Rise of Intersubjective Ego Psychology

Part I. From Freud to Erikson

2. Civilization and Its Discontents and Beyond: Drives, Identity, and Freud’s Sociology

3. "The Question of a Weltanschauung," "Thoughts for the Times on War and Death," and "Why War?": Whatever Happened to the Link between Psychoanalysis and the Social?

4. Born into a World at War: Affect and Identity in a War Baby Cohort

Part II. The Psychoanalytic Vision of Hans Loewald

5. The Psychoanalytic Vision of Hans Loewald

6. Reflections on Loewald’s "Internalization, Separation, Mourning, and the Superego"

7. A Different Universe: Reading Loewald through "On the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis"

Part III. American Independence: Theory and Practice

8. From Behind the Couch: Uncertainty and Indeterminacy in Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice

9. Listening to James McLaughlin: Tribute to an American Independent

10. Regard for Otherness: Reading Warren PolandPart IV. Individuality as Bedrock in the Consulting Room and Beyond

11. Toward an American Independent Tradition: Recapitulation

12. Beyond the Dyad: Individual Psychology, Social World

13. Why Is It Easy to Be a Psychoanalyst and a Feminist but Not a Psychoanalyst and a Sociologist?Afterword: Could You Direct Me to the Individuology Department?

14. "Could You Direct Me to the Individuology Department?" Psychoanalysis, the Academy, and the Self

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Nancy J. Chodorow is Training and Supervising Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Professor of Sociology Emerita, University of California, Berkeley, and Lecturer Part-time in Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. She is author of five previous books, including the groundbreaking The Reproduction of Mothering.


"One of Nancy Chodorow's many gifts is her capacity to brilliantly synthesize diverse ideas and perspectives. This new book of her collected works takes the reader on a marvelous journey that describes her evolution from a sociologist and feminist scholar to a highly respected psychoanalyst. She sees the value of integrating ego psychology and intersubjectivity, and she charts a course that has her own stamp on it while also incorporating the thinking of Loewald, Poland, McLaughlin and others. She has an impressive breadth of knowledge, and the reader emerges from this volume with an expanded understanding of American psychoanalysis and a deep appreciation of the interface between the sociocultural and the psychoanalytic. It is an extraordinary accomplishment, and I highly recommend it to all mental health professionals." --Glen O. Gabbard, MD, Author, Love and Hate in the Analytic Setting

"Historically fascinating and packed with information, Nancy Chodorow’s remarkable study of American psychoanalysis opens out into something much wider. Her primary focus is on the relation between social relationships and individuality. Sociology and psychoanalysis, she says, have both been impoverished by not exploring the links and tensions between them. She finds parallels within psychoanalysis itself, where some analysts stress relationships as primary, while others emphasise the individual psyche. Chodorow’s twin peaks in this landscape are Erik Erikson and Hans Loewald. Setting these in dialogue with each other, Chodorow reflects her own cultural and psychoanalytic journeyings. Her discussion of Erikson’s and Loewald’s ideas, and of what others have done with them, amounts to a history of American psychoanalysis. It is an extraordinary survey. It also extends well beyond America, to include the British Independent Group and other aspects of European psychoanalysis. Chodorow’s call for a fresh relationship between psychoanalysis and sociology, anthropology and psychology, and between clinical practice and the university, opens new horizons in many directions. Reading this book will be an education to both analysts and academics worldwide." -- Michael Parsons, British Psychoanalytical Society and French Psychoanalytic Association, Author, The Dove that Returns, The Dove that Vanishes and Living Psychoanalysis

"In this collection of essays, Nancy Chodorow, the renowned psychoanalyst and sociologist, and author of the brilliant Reproduction of Mothering, issues a call to those in the therapy hour, the classroom and beyond - to join the "ear" and "eye" of the book’s title. But she adds to this call a startling message to both sides of the union. Drawing from Hans Loewald, she urges therapists to attune that "psychoanalytic ear" to the patient as a unique, separate, meaning-making "I." In all the talk of a patient-analyst dyad, don’t lose sight of the inner life of the individual patient, she warns. And to social scientists she says, "don’t lose sight of the person in the pattern." As an object of study in the university, she adds in an arresting final chapter, the "self" has become homeless. For if sociology tells students about social structures, English departments focus on narrative, and psychology veers into cognitive science, where in all this is the self? A thoughtful and highly illuminating collection." --Arlie Hochschild, Author, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right and The Managed Heart: the Commercialization of Human Feeling

"Who better than Nancy Chodorow, the sociologist/anthropologist and psychoanalyst and brilliant master cartographer of theory, to draw the map of a deeply clinically familiar yet previously unrecognized terrain in psychoanalysis? She names "intersubjective ego psychology," or "cultural ego psychology," and calls these "The American Independent Tradition." Even in her first book, Chodorow integrated the connecting lines between the outside domestic phenomenon of mothering in society and the individual’s inside psychological processes of herself being mothered. This present visionary collection of essays shows her best skills of integration. Her quest turns to how sociology affects psychoanalysis, as well as the obverse. This worldly sensibility, once celebrated by Freud but now neglected, is crying out for attention to help expand for the current individual patient an overdone indulgent claim of "knowing" the mind of the other merely through a focus on intense self-introspection. Chodorow calls us to our American roots in reminding us of the tools to celebrate individual minds from within and in their own social milieux, anchoring this independent tradition of thought in Loewald and Erikson. Exciting modern analysts like McLaughlin and Poland show the way as practitioners within this newly named tradition. Chodorow’s ideas are groundbreaking for our future." --Rosemary H. Balsam, M.D., Yale Medical School; Training and Supervising Analyst Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis; Sigourney Award, 2018