Volkan, V.D. (2022). Remembering Gorbachev. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 503–511.
Abstract: Since the middle of last century the so-called “rational actor” models in international and domestic affairs (von Rochau, 1853) supported the assumption that a political leader’s decision-making is logical and unaffected by psychological factors. In 1993 eight psychoanalytically oriented psychiatrists formed a team to study political leaders’ personality characteristics and the psychodynamics of their decision-making processes. They met twice a year for five years and studied political leaders with obsessional, paranoid, schizoid, narcissistic and depressive personality organizations (Volkan, Akhtar, Dorn, Kafka, Kernberg, Olsson, Rogers, & Shanfield, 1998). Today academicians dealing with political issues are more aware that the personality of a political leader plays a crucial role in his or her attempts to maintain a stable relationship with his or her “followers” as well as in dealing with domestic and international issues. On February 2022, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s psychological issues in starting this invasion already have been examined through psychoanalytic angles (Ihanus, 2022; Volkan & Javakhishvili, 2022). On August 30, 2022, Mikhail Gorbachev died. A political leader with Gorbachev’s personality would not start a new war, a new horrifying event with brutality against civilians, children and innocent.
Knafo, D., Oxholm, B. & Snyder, S.A. (2022). In our Own Words: Key Terms and Trends in Psychoanalytic History. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 512–547.
Abstract: Inspired by the work of Fonagy (2008) and Dent and Christian (2019), this study applies a form of quantitative textual analysis to 300 terms of psychoanalytic interest in the PEP archives by tracking their historical prevalence in five-year increments using the aggregate number of articles featuring each term in the field’s journals. Our results confirm some of the more well-known inflection points in the history and application of psychoanalytic theory, while also revealing some intriguing surprises. Psychoanalysis remains fundamentally a depth psychology, yet it has increasingly acknowledged the external causes of distress and trauma. Changes in the prevalence of terminology around psychopathology, defense mechanisms, development, gender and sexuality, and psychoanalytic technique are discussed.
Dimitrijević, A. (2022). Raised in the World of Psychoanalysis: An Interview with Judith Dupont. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 548–573.
Abstract: This interview with Dr. Judith Dupont contains her reminiscences and thoughts about two topics of importance for the historiography of psychoanalysis. First, Dr. Dupont recalls her growing up among and meeting with pioneers, such as Vilma Kovács, Alice and Michael Balint, Melanie Klein, Imre Hermann and others. Second, Dr. Dupont reconstructs the chronicle of Ferenczi’s manuscripts: how they were entrusted to Michael Balint by Ferenczi’s widow, the complex reasons Balint could not publish them for more than 30 years, and finally, how Dr. Dupont succeeded in bringing the Clinical Diary to the public, and thus enriched contemporary psychoanalysis with the presence of Ferenczi after more than 50 years of silence and censorship.
Hess, E. (2022). God and Me, God is Me: Dialogue with Religion as a Mechanism for Coping with Emotional Stress. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 574–595.
Abstract: In this article I seek to clarify the different ways in which religious ultra-Orthodox Jewish patients, accustomed to the continuous presence of God in their daily lives, relate to God in times of crisis and within the therapeutic framework. While the accepted, ongoing dialogue with God is characterized by prayer and a highly respectful relationship towards a divine, spiritual authority, in times of distress we find that patients may “use” God in other ways as well. These “uses of God” may be categorized into four main groups: a relationship to God as a projection of the patient’s relationship to his/her parents; the idealization and glorification of God, from a place of distance, authority and supremacy; a relationship to God of “closeness” and mutuality; and a relationship of “objectification”—the idea that God exists for me as an object, to serve or help me in my daily life. Each category is illustrated by a case study, with a focus on the therapeutic work and in particular the issue of transference.
Frankfeldt, V. R. (2022). The Pandemic, the Protests, the Chaos: A Destabilizing Effect on the Analyst. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 596–617.
Abstract: In May 2020, within the cultural and emotionally regressive chaos of the pandemic, the analyst witnessed a violent Black Lives Matter protest. Myriad unprocessed feelings subsequently impacted her handling the treatment of a patient who abruptly left a session to attend a protest herself. The analyst describes her own personal experience and the cascade of events that affected the treatment. She suggests that analysts can be armed with the awareness that enactments are more likely to happen when the analyst, as well the patient, are under extreme duress as is the case in the time of Covid. She describes some of the forces that were specific to this case and her own personal embroilment. She then broadens the discussion to other analysts’ reports of overwhelming pandemic experiences and the corresponding effect on the work. She also elucidates the importance of the frame for therapeutic work.
Brakel, L. A.W. (2022). Self-constitution and “Infrastructural” Change: An Interdisciplinary Account of Psychoanalytic Action. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 618–630.
Abstract: Beyond revealing unconscious pathological identifications and traits—including their past usefulness but current toxicity—what techniques in our psychoanalytic practice can lead to change? Radically different from mainstream philosophical views advocating that such undesirable self-aspects should not be endorsed as Self, psychoanalysts hold that these negative traits must instead be understood as part of one’s Self. But then what? Investigating concepts from classical conditioning, neuroscience, the philosophy of mind and action, and psychoanalytic practice itself, this article will suggest a preliminary account of the mechanism of action of psychoanalytic work after insight.
Koritar, E. (2022). Book Review: Women in the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis: Girls of Tomorrow, by Anna Borgos, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2021, 202 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 631–636.
Anna Borgos introduces the reader to the burgeoning psychoanalytic scene in Budapest in the early years of the psychoanalytic movement. At that time the Budapest School was one of the most active psychoanalytic research and training centers along with Vienna, Berlin, and Zurich. Her access to personal correspondences, untranslated works and diaries, newspaper articles, and historical information provides the reader with an in depth historical and cultural background as well as portraying intimate details of personal relationships. The principal protagonists spring to life on the written page as Borgos interweaves details of their personal lives with their brilliant contributions to psychoanalytic research and technique, but adding a third dimension: an approach applicable to childhood education and child rearing. Unlike the Viennese and Berliners, those in the Budapest School believed that environmental trauma especially in early development contributed significantly to the etiology of psychopathology. In this sense, focusing on efforts to enlighten parents, caretakers, and teachers with psychoanalytic perspectives of development represent an attempt at social engineering cultivating mental health in the developing child.
Reiner, A. (2022). Book Review: Sándor Ferenczi: A Contemporary Introduction, by Alberto Fergusson and Miguel Gutiérrez-Peláez, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2022, 125 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 637–642.
In this very interesting and important book, the innovative psychoanalyst, Sándor Ferenczi, is aptly described as “Freud’s most exceptional disciple” (p. 9). As founder and President of the Budapest Psychoanalytic Society from its inception in 1913 until his death in 1933, Ferenczi’s work and his legacy are outlined with great care by authors, Alberto Fergusson and Miguel Gutiérrez-Peláez, who call Ferenczi “one of the most important psychoanalysts of all time” (p. 1). They also note, however, that his work has often been ignored, and examine the various reasons for this throughout the book.
Bonomi, C. (2022). Book Review: Mutual Analysis: Ferenczi, Severn and the Origins of Trauma Theory, by Peter L. Rudnytsky, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2022, 349 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 643–649.
Peter Rudnytsky is an experienced and well-known historian of psychoanalysis who has authored many brilliant collections of essays, among them The Psychoanalytic Vocation: Rank, Winnicott, and the Legacy of Freud (1991), Reading Psychoanalysis: Freud, Rank, Ferenczi, Groddeck (2002), Rescuing Psychoanalysis from Freud and Other Essays in Re-Vision (2011). This is however his first book conceived as an integral whole since his early Freud and Oedipus (1987), which was written more than three decades ago. Its subject, mutual analysis, deserves indeed an all-around examination, especially because it has been usually perceived either as a blatant manifestation of Ferenczi’s alleged mental deterioration or as a utopian experiment doomed to unavoidable failure. Even Michael Balint had been rather dismissive about his master’s grand experiment. Mutual analysis has indeed elicited so many doubts that when Judith Dupont, Balint’s niece and literary heir, took the decision to make public Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary (1932), she had to resist the discouraging advice given even by scholars who were sympathetic to Ferenczi. As we know, the result of her venture was nothing else than the Ferenczi Renaissance, a movement of ideas and people that has kept growing, while the Freudian metapsychological frame was sinking. Yet, in spite of the growing consensus in favor of Ferenczi’s views, especially on trauma, his mutual analysis remained somehow stuck in the corner. Despite presenting many brilliant micro-analyses, it never overcame the status of a dubious ad hoc experiment, which was not to be taken as an inspiring model by practitioners. In his new book1, Rudnytsky challenges this crystallized view, coming to the conclusion that Ferenczi’s mutual analysis should be considered as “the paradigm for the contemporary shift to a two-person conceptualization of clinical work, just as Freud’s self-analysis was paradigmatic for the one-person perspective of classical theory” (p. 8).
Jachim, D. P. (2022). Book Review: Bion and Primitive Mental States: Trauma and the Symbiotic Link, by Judy K. Eekhoff, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2022, 137 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 650–653.
In her latest book, Judy Eekhoff takes the reader to the terrifying depths of unmentalized states of mind in certain patients that have suffered childhood abuse or neglect. Like Dante descending she takes us to the various early tiers of infantile suffering that remain unabated without words or concept and that frequently are triggered and erupt in adulthood. She locates the eye of the storm at what she terms as the “primal position” (preface xvii), ahead of the paranoid/schizoid position. From this starting point Eekhoff eloquently describes the undifferentiated states that rest in the body that are either not symbolized or transformed into language. Informed by Bion’s ideas and bracketed by Freud, Klein, Ferenczi and Meltzer, she lays out a virtual road map of how this trauma-induced no man’s land may be traversed by the analyst, using the processes of symbolization, somatic receptivity and countertransference in helping the traumatized patient to slowly build, for the first time, an accessible self. Using clinical case examples, the author invites the reader to take a deep dive into the abandoned and terrifying states of mind of often outwardly successful people who have been crippled by the inability to understand and describe their own experience.
Grossmark, R. (2022). Book Review: Creative Engagement in Psychoanalytic Practice, by Henry Markman, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2022, 264 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 654–660.
It seems to me that a sea change has been taking place in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts from varying perspectives have been shifting their lenses and perspectives to accommodate to and embrace phenomena varyingly described as non-symbolized, non-represented or non-verbal as well as areas of psychic deadness and non-aliveness. Whether from a classical perspective (Levine et al., 2013) or relational/interpersonal (D.B. Stern, 2019), there is a concern that there needs to be a widening of the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious, its formulation and the kind of technique and treatment that can meet these challenges. [….] The treatment is now commonly viewed as an intersubjective endeavor and there is a profound tilt away from the reliance on interpretation and the analyst’s objective knowledge of the patient to the use of the analyst’s very being in relation to that of the patient and its potential vitalizing qualities (Alvarez, 1992, 2012; Schwartz Cooney & Sopher, 2021). Perhaps this is best captured as a tilt away from epistemological to ontological psychoanalysis (Eshel, 2019; Ogden, 2019).
It is in this context that I read Henry Markman’s engaging and stimulating new volume, Creative Engagement in Psychoanalytic Practice in which the author develops a unique and personal language to describe his experience of the primitive, non-symbolized and de-vitalized states and communications that he meets in his patients (p. 5)…
Covitz, H. H. (2022). Book Review: The Relational Revolution in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, by Steven Kuchuck, Confer Books, London, 2021, 207 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(4), 661–665.
Once upon a prehistoric time, the nomadic progeny of Noah born after the Great Flood sought to build a shining city and to erect an edifice taller and more grand than anything previously known. The Bible tells us that they made bricks and fired those blocks so that they might make for ourselves a name, lest we be dispersed willy-nilly across the face of the land (Genesis, 11:4) Epstein (1902). God, the story continues, descended to check out the City and the Tower (Genesis, 11:4). God concluded that these folk were too big for their breeches and She decided, therefore, to disperse them across the face of the Good Earth that She had created, jumbling their languages and putting an end to their self-aggrandizing scheme to build the ultimate city and the tallest Tower.