Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Five Easy Pieces: Essays on Practicing Psychotherapy

The five essays were written in the early 1980s as I was starting out in the practice os psychotherapy. I was trained by psychoanalysts and had read and reread a lot of Freud's works. Starting out in practice I found myself wondering what I was presuming to do and why I was doing it the way I was. I was very uncomfortable viewing the people who came to talk to me through the theoretical lens provided by psychoanalysis. I was more than a little overwhelmed by the contrast between the power of their immediate distress over the circumstances of their lives and the meagre resources I felt that I had to help them. The first essay was written while I was teaching an undergraduate course called "Reading Freud" at Brown Univeristy with Professor Giles Milhaven. We asked students to read selections from Freud's writings and then respond to them from their personal experience. "The Medical Frame" was intended as my response to Freud. It was inspired by an undergraduate course I had taken with David Bakan, who, as I recalled, described having seances in which he tried to communicate with Freud. "The Medical Frame was my attempt at such communication.

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