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Jenness, K. (2018). Embodying Words: An Analysand's Journal, 1941-1945. Am. Imago, 75(2):213-235.

(2018). American Imago, 75(2):213-235

Embodying Words: An Analysand's Journal, 1941-1945

Katherine Jenness, Ph.D.

I The Journal

In May of 1941, a 41-year-old woman residing in Los Angeles sought out psychiatric treatment to address lethargy and hopelessness related to recent professional disappointments. She and her psychiatrist promptly began psychoanalytic treatment, and her analyst made an unusual recommendation: in addition to their sessions, each day she would set aside time to write a journal about whatever came to mind. Perhaps this was a recommendation he gave all his patients, or perhaps only to her, a professional writer by trade. But write she did, prodigiously so, and we are left with a text comprising over 200,000 words (as a comparison, the story of Jane Eyre is told in 186,418). The journal offers an intimate and tremendously moving portrait of a life and a treatment.

The analysand was Gladys Tilden. She hailed from a California family of some prominence. Upon her death she left her personal papers to the University of California at Berkeley and it was in the university archives that I stumbled upon her journal while completing research on an unrelated project. Titled “Autobiography for psychoanalysis, 1941-45,” it belongs to the Gladys Tilden Papers in the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

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