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Quinodoz, D. (2013). On: At What Age Should a Psychoanalyst Retire?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(4):793-797.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(4):793-797

Letter to the Editor

On: At What Age Should a Psychoanalyst Retire? Language Translation

Danielle Quinodoz

Dear Editor,

Recent discussions at the Swiss Society raised interesting thoughts about the ageing analyst. I would like to share some of the ideas and questions raised with the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

A Psychoanalyst is Several Ages at the Same Time

The process by which a psychoanalyst becomes aware of his own ageing is highly specific because he is several ages at the same time when working with his patients. On the one hand, an analyst takes account of his chronological age when he is listening to external reality, which entails being aware of the transience of his life and the inevitability of his own death. However, on the other hand, he also takes account of the phantasmatic age attributed to him by his analysands in the transference when he is listening to their psychic reality. He may then adopt the ages of various figures that his patients unconsciously project into/onto him during the sessions: a young analyst may be treated as if he were the very elderly parent of a mature patient, while an old analyst may be treated as a child. A psychoanalyst is therefore led to move constantly back and forth in his work between his chronological age and his phantasmatic age (Quinodoz, 2010, p. 170).

An analyst who only took account of his phantasmatic age would risk being overcome by a dangerous feeling of omnipotence, as if he were impervious to the passage of time. Conversely, an analyst who only took account of his real age would be in danger of not making enough use of his capacity for reverie to detoxify the anxieties projected into him by his patients and to help them to build their sense of time.

[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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