- Remembering One's AnalysisA Caveat
"I trust that in the future more analysts will tell us about their [own] analytic experiences." These are the closing words of a warm and thoughtfully incisive recollection by Stanley Stern of "My Experience of Analysis with Loewald" (2009). While Stern's memoir is a reflective contribution and his hopeful attitude worthy of respect, a post-analytic experience of my own leaves me more wary of such reports.
A bewildered and stunningly immature psychiatric resident in my early twenties, feeling underwater in a sea of anxiety, I turned eagerly to a personal analysis as offering a reed to the air of sanity. Calm was more than I thought possible. Already greatly in debt and with only minimal income, the only way I could arrange a personal analysis was as the control case of a beginning candidate, one willing to see me at the end of my work day and for a fee that would not have covered her monthly postage.
I had the good fortune to find such a willing student analyst, and in the retrospect of a half century, I have a sense of profound gratitude for my good fortune in having found her, for her willingness to work with me. However at that time, I confronted her harshly and for a long time relentlessly with all the provocative doubt and even disdain that I then unknowingly tried to deflect from myself. In simple terms, I now think she was a lifesaver, but I gave her a hell of a run for the little money I paid.
After she and I had worked together over two years, my obligations to then-current public service laws required me to move to another city. There I quickly resumed analytic work, this time with a training analyst since there was no doubt in my mind of my intention to pursue analytic training and I now had a beginning income. [End Page 117]
Whatever the differences I felt between the two contrasting analysts, the first a woman and a beginner and the second a man and one of professional seniority and prestige, whether those differences were distorted by transference or based on differences in actuality, eventually that second analysis came to its termination. By the time of that ending, I not only had begun analytic training but was near the completion of its formal period. I had embarked on a full-time psychoanalytic practice, fully engaged with my lifetime career of trying to learn what I could about psychoanalysis.
About a decade after I had finished my second analysis, I happened to cross paths for the first time with my original analyst as we both were registering for a meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in Boston. We greeted each other with what seemed apparent and perhaps nostalgic warmth. The disdain that colored my early work was not in the air. After our initial hellos, we asked of each other's welfare, and then with genuine respect I wondered whether she would be interested in a follow-up about how my analytic work had unfolded after we had parted. She was interested; we both were free; and so we decided to take a walk then and there around the Boston Commons.
I began by telling her that I did not know whether it was a coincidence of the gender difference between my two analysts or whether it was a function of how with my character structure I had related to such difference in analysts, but I said that while my analysis with her had primarily centered on what I called "mother stuff," the gist of my work in the subsequent phase was about "father stuff."
Unlike during our clinical work, she interrupted me, saying that in fact our work together had indeed been about father issues. I began to feel a touch saddened. Perhaps she didn't remember me, or—an even more distressing possibility—she had me confused with another patient.
I went on, but again she interrupted me. "Don't you remember a turning point came in your analysis when you visited your father's grave?" My heart sank. She clearly didn...