The following interview was conducted on May 1, 1992, by M. Guy Thompson, Ph.D., and Sharada Thompson at Otto Will's home in Point Richmond, California. Dr. Thompson met Dr. Will in 1983 and subsequently saw him in therapy for a brief time. Dr. Will was one of the principal inspirations for Dr. Thompson's decision to found, in 1988, Free Association, a psychoanalytic training program emphasizing phenomenological and interpersonal perspectives. Dr. Will supervised students there, and with his wife, Dr. Beulah Parker, convened an ongoing clinical case conference until his death in November, 1993. Mrs. Thompson was supervised by Dr. Will at the Free Association during her analytic training. This interview was conceived as the first of a series of reminiscences by Dr. Will on his career as a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Sadly, it is the only interview that was completed before his death.
Interviewers: Dr. Will, your training as a psychoanalyst is remarkable in that your principal influence as a clinician was Harry Stack Sullivan, with whom you were in analysis. Yet, you are a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, an accrediting body that rejects Sullivan as a bona fide psychoanalyst. You were subsequently Director of Psychotherapy at Chestnut Lodge, where you succeeded Frieda Fromm-Reichmann and distinguished yourself as one of the most gifted psychoanalysts in America working with a schizophrenic population. Later, you became Director of Austen Riggs, where you enjoyed even greater renown as an administrator. We would like to start by asking you about your evolution as a psychoanalyst and the experiences you believe helped shape your development. Perhaps we could begin with your decision to become a psychiatrist.
Dr. Will: When I graduated from college I worked for a while as a travelling auditor for the Western Division of General Mills. Then I decided to go into medicine and to study psychiatry. Yet, what I saw of