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Torp, J. (1993). To be or not to be a Patient. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:180-181.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:180-181

To be or not to be a Patient

Jorgen Torp

Dear Sirs,

It is often a nice quality to be able to be patient. It is not so nice when as a psychoanalyst you use the word in the medical sense, and thus accuse your analysand of being a patient although you know that your 'patient' is conscious of having a more/less serious neurotic problem/condition.

At the University of Copenhagen (February 1992) a lecture was given by Mme Janice de Saussure: 'Some basic psychoanalytic concepts'.

I liked the lecture, and I very much liked the way Mme Janice de Saussure presented herself and her lecture. My one objection to the lecture was, and still is, that repeatedly during the lecture the medical term patient was used, even though it was obvious that the case-histories in question were not derived from persons needing psychiatric attention at a hospital.

After the lecture given by Mme Janice de Saussure I objected to the use of the medical term patient, as to my mind it can reflect a serious flaw in the attitude of a psychoanalyst. Mme de Saussure said that it might very well be just a linguistic/cultural tradition.

I hope that Mme Janice de Saussure is right. I should like to think so.

I also like to read The International Review of Psycho-Analysis, but I do not feel confident that I can always take it that all authors understand the difference between an analysand and a patient.

I think that we owe our analysands and ourselves not to use the term patient, a term from 'Die Welt von Gestern' and long since obsolete.

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