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Bronstein, C. (2015). The Analyst's Disappointment: An Everyday Struggle. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(6):1173-1192.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(6):1173-1192

The Analyst's Disappointment: An Everyday Struggle

Catalina Bronstein

This is an extract from a letter sent by Arnold Zweig to Freud in 1930:

Your letter, your dear long letter, written in your own hand brought me, along with everything else, one great joy—for the skepticism about the future of analysis stems not from me, dear Mr. Freud, but from you. You alarmed me with it during our conversation in your flat in Vienna, among all the treasures and sacred objects which the tombs have had to yield up to you who have opened up so many a tomb. You then uttered bitter words of deep disappointment and I recall precisely the arguments with which I countered yours, though I had little confidence in their efficacy, when they were set against the feeling that you, the creator, had about your own creation. I am now happy to learn that your low opinion of the worlds of today and tomorrow was to be attributed more to a passing gloom in your feelings than to a Freudian judgment. No one is more entitled to feel this gloom than you, but we are delighted to see it dispersed, and not least for your own sake, for those of us who have experience of analysis have no doubt as to its indestructibility [Zweig 1930, p. 10].

These words remind us that we all—like Freud—suffer disappointments in our work. Actually, I cannot think of any aspect of life that does not involve some sense of disappointment. Our desires and aspirations are met regularly with nonfulfillment. But the degree and persistence feelings of disappointment can vary greatly: it can fuel and promote development, helping us search for new experiences, new ideas, and new ways of communicating, but it can also become pervasive and hinder progress and emotional development. I hope to show the difference between these two types of disappointment and the effect they have on our capacity to think and function as analysts.


Visiting Professor, Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London; Fellow, British Psychoanalytical Society.

Submitted for publication October 19, 2015.

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[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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