Lesley's Reviews > Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession

Psychoanalysis by Janet Malcolm
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's review
Oct 27, 07

bookshelves: psychology
Recommended for: the unconsciously conflicted
Read in October, 2007

Impossible, I suppose, on account of what happens is the analysand pays the analyst an extraordinarily large sum of money to come to his or her office several times a week for several years, lay on a couch, and free associate, until the analyst (heretofore not terribly talkative) offers an interpretation of the analysand's unconscious conflicts and defenses that the analysand will refuse to accept. As my psychoanalysis professor explained, "Some people just can't handle that amount of freedom." He's an analyst. Can you tell?

But if you're curious about psychoanalysis, practice, and theory, this book is a page turner.

p.s. This book really paints an unsympathetic picture of analysts (as power-driven, competitive, petty, defensive, and dogmatic). I am told this book originally appeared as a series of articles in the New Yorker and that the real "Aaron Green" (unsuccessfully) sued Janet Malcolm when the book was published. I am also told that, for a time, every analyst/psychologist in New York knew who Aaron Green was. How embarrassing.


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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by matthew (new)

matthew i went from seeing an analyst, once a week, for an hour, with an hour commute, to seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist, once every two weeks, for "half an hour", with a two hour commute (the county, as a rule, only allows you six months with one practitioner, and they fucked up all the bus routes - it's the same building). the first talked enough (he wasn't a purely classical analyst, if anyone still is); the second talks too much. somehow, i feel i'm getting ripped off, and, so far, i'm getting worse (but that could be a sign of progress!). i really miss my old therapist.

Lesley Wow. You went from one end of the theoretical spectrum to the other. The only thing more dramatic would have been a switch from analysis to pure behaviorism. The cognitive piece certainly softens the blow, but your proper cognitive behavioral clinician still doesn't really give a rat's ass about the first five years of your life.

message 3: by matthew (new)

matthew yes. they made it fairly clear they didn't think much of each other's methods.

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica SCHEMA THERAPY, Matthew. Schema therapy next!!!

message 5: by matthew (new)

matthew they don't let me choose.

message 6: by matthew (new)

matthew do classical analysts still really exist? it's like a dated woody allen film. i've NEVER, in over thirty years of psych treatment, been given a word association... test? exercise?

message 7: by James (new)

James matthew wrote: "do classical analysts still really exist?

About the time this book was published, 1981, DSM 3
came out and completely changed psychiatry.

All the Freud crap went out and new science based ideas came in.

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