Modern Psychoanalysis

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Modern Psychoanalytic Education

Modern Psychoanalytic Education

Psychoanalytic education in the United States is still mainly conducted in free-standing Institutes, rather than in University settings. Typically, certifications are awarded, rather than academic degrees, though training in Institutes is often years longer than that taken for academic degrees.

Education in Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes usually consists of around 24 courses, weekly individual analysis, supervision, clinical experience, giving and attending case presentations, and presentation of a final case. It would not be unusual to spend 7-8 years working towards certification.

Students in many Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes are permitted to proceed more or less at their own pace. Some Institutes also permit the general public to take courses in psychoanalysis for personal enrichment.

Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes do not require that their candidates be medical doctors. This follows Professor Freud’s thoughts on the subject (1926):
“No one should practice analysis who has not acquired the right to do so by a particular training. Whether such a person is a doctor or not seems to me immaterial.”
On the other hand, most Institutes require at least a Masters Degree for eventual certification. Freud’s statement (1926) would still be true, that:
“Lay analysts, as they are found practicing today, are not chance-comers, recruited and trained without discrimination, but persons of academic standing.”
What should Modern Psychoanalytic Education consist of? Perhaps part of the answer to this question lies in looking at the work modern analysts are being trained for.

According to Spotnitz (1997, p. 36 & 38):
“Most of the work in the analysis consists in asking question after question, following the patient’s unconscious as closely as a shadow in the exploration that will lead to the uncovering of layer after layer, until the point is reached when the patient discovers a truth about himself through his own voice.” And “The fact remains that analysts need to know their own unconscious as much as that of their patients…”
Individual analysis and supervision would, therefore, seem to be indispensable to a Modern Psychoanalytic education. The undersigned writer also highly recommends that all Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes follow the lead given by one of the Institutes – i.e., include Transference & Resistance Workshops in each semester’s curriculum.

Freud (1914) incorporated Transference & Resistance into the very definition of the question; “What is Psychoanalysis?:
“… the facts of transference and resistance. Any line of investigation which recognizes these two facts and takes them as the starting point of its work may call itself psychoanalysis, though it arrives at results other than my own.”
Transference & Resistance Workshops explore these concepts through group discussion in an experiential setting. The experience with using Transference & Resistance Workshops has been greater expression and understanding of feelings by students and less acting out. Having experienced these Workshops myself, it has been difficult for me to imagine Modern Psychoanalytic education without them.

Freud, S. 1914. The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement; (fr. Freud, S. (1938). Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, (Modern Library Edition, 1995; trans. Dr. A.A. Brill), NY, The Modern Library).
Freud, S. 1926. The Question of Lay Analysis; (fr. Freud, S. (1938). Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, (Modern Library Edition, 1995; trans. Dr. A.A. Brill), NY, The Modern Library).

Spotnitz, H. (1997). The Goals of Modern Psychoanalysis: The Therapeutic Resolution of Verbal and Preverbal Resistances for Patient and Analyst (CMPS/Modern Psychoanalysis, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1997)

Spotnitz, H. (1985). Modern Psychoanalysis of the Schizophrenic Patient: Theory of the Technique, Second Edition, NY, Human Sciences Press.

© 2006, James G. Fennessy, M.A., J.D.
Matawan, New Jersey 07747

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