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Hustvedt, S. (2010). The Analyst in Fiction: Reflections on a More or Less Hidden Being. Contemp. Psychoanal., 46(2):224-234.

(2010). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 46(2):224-234

The Analyst in Fiction: Reflections on a More or Less Hidden Being

Siri Hustvedt, Ph.D.

I rescue a deleted passage from my most recent novel, The Sorrows of an American, narrated by a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst, who describes the precarious position his profession occupies in a culture that has jettisoned the psyche for the brain. But the crass caricatures of the psychoanalyst reflect not only this turn toward biology but a genuinely riddled notion within the profession itself: the idea of the neutral analyst. In novels, this witholding, mostly absent being has often been used as a vehicle to frame narrator confessions rather than explore the inter-subjective reality of the analytic space. A notable exception is F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night. I describe the mysterious process of becoming a fictional analyst, which in some ways mimics analysis itself—the strange underground of the unconscious struggling to find an articulate narrative that makes emotional sense.

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