Becoming Psychoanalysts: The Development of a Psychoanalytic Identity

Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2021-22, 2nd Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Sue Radant, PhD


Thank you all for completing the survey I sent last Fall asking for potential topics for this class.

Given that this class is your very last didactic course and it is an important topic, I would like to make it a fun, helpful and integrative class. To that end I have gone light on the readings to allow more time for class discussion of the articles, and of your experiences related to the papers. I have also tried to select enjoyable and contemporary articles.

The goal of this class is to help you further define and refine your own psychoanalytic identity. We do understand of course that one’s psychoanalytic identity is constantly evolving construct throughout our professional lifespan. Nonetheless, we will reflect upon such issues as what is meant by a psychoanalytic identity, the developmental progression from clinical associate to faculty, the role of theory and how to develop a psychoanalytic practice. In addition, since we are living in such strange times we will look at how Covid is affecting our practices, racism, and politics.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this four-week course, the participants will be able to:

  1. Be able to define more clearly their psychoanalytic identity in terms of personal characteristics, theoretical perspective, and real self
  2. Describe how contemporary issues such as Covid, racism, and politics have impacted their work lives and work as clinicians.
  3. Describe their experiences from beginning psychoanalytic training to completion of the didactic portion of training, and how it has contributed to their identity as a psychoanalyst.

May 6, 2022 — What is meant by a psychoanalytic identity? And how do we describe what we do to our non-analytic colleagues?

[10 pages]

In this class we read a paper by Lew Aron in which he makes comparisons between being a psychoanalyst and a rock guitarist, in terms of psychoanalytic identity, doing psychoanalysis, race, play and creativity. Some of his quotes are drawn from Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Eddie Van Halen, and B.B. King. He proposes that we can learn a lot about how to be creative and genuine psychoanalysts by following the advice of these pre-eminent musicians.

Aron, L. (2015) Race, Roots, and Rhythm: Riffing on Rock ’n’ Roll: An Introduction. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 25:153-162

May 13, 2022 — The developmental progression from Clinical Associate to graduate analyst and Faculty member

[40 pages]

In this class we will explore what it means to develop into an analyst. As Ogden and Gabbard state, “The analyst you become is you and you alone – that is what you use.” And “Becoming an analyst necessarily involves creating a highly personal identity that is unlike that of any other analyst.” In the Cherry et. al. paper the results of questionnaires and interviews with graduates of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training are illustrated as to various themes including dillusionment about training, institute politics, analytic practice and more. We’ll use these as a springboard for our discussion of your experiences at SPSI.

Gabbard, G.O. & Ogden, T.H. (2009) On Becoming a Psychoanalyst. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 90:311-327

Cherry, S.; Meyer, J.; Mann, G.; Meersand, P. (2020). Professional and personal development after psychoanalytic training: Interviews with early career analysts. JAPA, Vol 68 (2), pp217-239.

May 20, 2022 — Developing a psychoanalytic practice

[17 pages]

The experiences of starting and maintaining a private analytic practice are rarely discussed in analytic training. The impact of our respective class and economic backgrounds are large factors in our comfort in charging and in the financial aspects of private practice. This article takes up these issues and can serve as a backdrop for discussion of our experiences.

Bandini, C. (2011) The Good Job: Financial Anxiety, Class Envy and Drudgery in Beginning a Private Analytic Practice. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 47:101-117

May 27, 2022 — Life these days: Covid, politics, racism and the new normal

[21 pages]

These two articles offer subjective views on the experiences of teaching, learning and clinical practice during the Covid pandemic. The second one centrally explores the issue of racism during the pandemic, and the importance of working therapeutically on conscious and unconscious racism.

Bland, E.; Reep, S.; Farrey, N. (2021). Teaching and Learning in the Time of Covid-19. Psychoanalysis, Self and Context. 19 Aug 2021, pp264-274.

Howard, A. (2021). Termination, Trauma and Star Wars: The Collapse of the Therapeutic Frame During a National Health Crisis, Political Uprising, and a Racial Injustice Movement. Psychoanalysis, Self and Context. Published online: 19 Aug 2021, pp275-284.