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Levin, C. (2007). Who should become a Psychoanalyst?. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 15:324-327.

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(2007). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 15:324-327

Who should become a Psychoanalyst?

Charles Levin Author Information

So who should become an analyst? I am inclined to say anyone who is truly willing! Any person who is capable of enduring the personal, professional, emotional, and intellectual ordeal, not to mention the financial hardship, of psychoanalytic training, should become an analyst if he or she really wants to. I don't think that this adds up to very many people.

I am assuming that beneath this question —who should become an analyst?—lies our anxiety about the quality of the candidates we train and of the analysts we graduate. To the extent that this is the underlying concern, I think that it would be useful to shift the emphasis of the question. Instead of “Who should become an analyst?” we might consider asking “Who should become a training analyst?” I suggest this because, aside from a few obvious issues in screening and selecting candidates, which I shall address briefly, the best answer to the question “Who should become an analyst?” is simply “Candidates who have been well trained,” and the single most important factor in determining whether candidates are well trained is the quality of the analysts who analyze, supervise, and teach them.

I am skeptical of the prophylactic benefits of screening candidates on psychological grounds. I am well aware that certain kinds of defensive organization make it very difficult to do analysis. But the attempt to judge in advance whether these contraindicated factors are present—and

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