Document Detail

The secret life of the psychoanalyst.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11816355     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
In this article I have discussed what philosophers formally call subdoxastic about. Subdoxastic states are unconscious states about something that lead to conscious beliefs and conscious experiences. In the field of psychoanalysis Sullivan's (1953) "malevolent transformation" is a simple example of this. We all known how patients who have unconsciously undergone this kind of transformation of beliefs about people often appear more or less openly, depending on how well they are able to hide it, to be paranoid, suspicious, angry, and mistrustful of everybody, with the result that their conscious behavior and attitude alienate people and drive them away, resulting in experiences serving to verify the patients' beliefs. Psychoanalysts, we hope, are more subtle. Because they operate in a situation where there is little consensual validation and public scrutiny, the temptation to such syndromes as "compromise of integrity" or "partial private schemata" is very strong, leading to enactments that can be damaging to both patient and analyst and ultimately to burnout, as I have described it in this article. It is necessary, therefore, for analysts to keep a careful check on their conscious value systems and beliefs and to maintain continuing self-analysis for the subdoxastic factors that shape such beliefs. It is not possible to hide this from patients, and we must assume that sooner or later the patient gets to know the analyst pretty well. Analysts displaying the syndromes just mentioned, which are more subtle than ordinary character pathology such as that which forms the all-too-pervasive narcissistic analyst, may not even be aware they are doing so if they do not maintain a continual self-scrutiny, and if they do not pay close attention to their patients' material. This material--the patients' dreams, free associations, behavior, and enactments in the analytic process--often reflects not only transference but also constitutes a response to the analyst's unconscious and conscious value systems, which in turn are based on the subdoxastic factors that make the analyst the person that he or she is. Some patients may even precipitate crises or other situations that test the analyst's value system and force the analyst to display his or her secret self in immediate decisions that cannot be avoided. This is especially true if the patient is frightened or terribly threatened by factors in the secret self of the analyst; in this situation the patient may behave like a child who knows his or her father or mother is really very angry under a seemingly calm exterior, and as a result the child deliberately precipitates a display of that parental anger to get it out on the surface, get it over with, and reduce the child's anxiety. I have called for a genealogical study of analysts' choices of theoretical orientation in various cultures, and herein I am calling for a study of the subdoxastic factors in each individual analyst's theoretical orientation. Every theoretical orientation is based on a value system and a set of desires that determine the goals the analyst consciously or unconsciously wishes for the patient to actualize in the treatment process in order for the analyst to feel that he or she has catalyzed a "successful" treatment. This is a preliminary formulation. Further work is needed to distinguish between countertransference in the sense that we ordinarily use that concept today, and these subdoxastic factors determining the analyst's theoretical orientation and value systems, as well as to increase our focus on a subclass of these factors, the cultural ambience and background practices that Heidegger, for example, has identified as being crucial in the formation of the analyst's self as well as that of the patient.
R D Chessick
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis     Volume:  29     ISSN:  0090-3604     ISO Abbreviation:  J Am Acad Psychoanal     Publication Date:  2001  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-01-30     Completed Date:  2002-05-14     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505570     Medline TA:  J Am Acad Psychoanal     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  403-26     Citation Subset:  IM    
Northwestern University, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Burnout, Professional / psychology
Countertransference (Psychology)*
Psychoanalytic Theory*
Unconscious (Psychology)

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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