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Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession (1981)

de Janet Malcolm

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283371,861 (4.04)18
Through an intensive study of Aaron Green, a Freudian analyst in New York City, New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm reveals the inner workings of psychoanalysis.
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When Janet Malcolm published this book in 1980, strict Freudian psychoanalysis was still very much alive, at least in New York. There were, to be sure, those who challenged it, but the full flowering of alternative psychological theories had not taken place, much less the more recent medicalization of psychological treatment. Thus, this book is a portrait of psychoanalytic practice in a particular time and place.

Malcolm first provides a brief overview of Freud's theories, focusing on concepts that figure later in the book, especially transference, and how Freud's (and others') explanations of it developed. Then she introduces a New York psychoanalyst she calls "Aaron Green" who agreed to talk with her about how he conducts psychoanalysis, processes (and politics) at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, the ne plus ultra of psychoanalytic training at the time, and psychoanalysis itself. Throughout the book, Malcolm interweaves psychoanalytic theory with the story of how it is practiced.

I found this book fascinating, and Malcom typically insightful, thoughtful, and readable. I've had it on the TBR since 1982 and, although I have no memory of having read it (what would Dr. Freud make of that?), I found a bookmark in it and, more tellingly, passages I had marked. Apparently, I started it but never finished it back then. (The passage I marked, when I was still at the end of my 20s, had to do with the idea that it is not productive for young people -- in their 20s -- to go into psychoanalysis because they haven't yet seen that they make the same mistakes over and over again. Obviously, I have oversimplified this.)
5 vota rebeccanyc | May 16, 2015 |
A good, if a bit dated, overview of contemporary Freudian psychoanalytic practice in New York in the late 70s, early 80s. The book interweaves a history of the field, its state in New York in the 70s, and reflections on a series of interview with one Aaron Green, a pseudonymous NYC Freudian psychoanalyst. ( )
  lukeasrodgers | Oct 10, 2014 |
This is a wonderful book. Malcolm begins with an introduction to her principal source, a psychoanalyst she calls Aaron Green, and quickly moves on to a general introduction to the science of psychoanalysis. This short history of the field is marvellously written, and designed to be memorable so that the author can rely on the terms she has introduced later. More people should write this way - by giving the reader a comprehensive grounding in the vernacular early on, the latter portions of the book can go deeper, penetrating the surface in a way that many other writers shy away from. ( )
1 vota soylentgreen23 | Aug 23, 2007 |
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Aaron Green (as I shall call him) is a forty-six year old psychoanalyst who practices in Manhattan, in the East Nineties.
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Through an intensive study of Aaron Green, a Freudian analyst in New York City, New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm reveals the inner workings of psychoanalysis.

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