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Weiss, S.S. (1986). The Identity of the Psychoanalyst. (International Psycho-Analytical Association Monograph Series, No. 2.): Edited by Edward D. Joseph, M.D., and Daniel Widlöcher, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1984. 291 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:339-341.
(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:339-341
The Identity of the Psychoanalyst. (International Psycho-Analytical Association Monograph Series, No. 2.): Edited by Edward D. Joseph, M.D., and Daniel Widlöcher, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1984. 291 pp.
Review by: Stanley S. Weiss
Who is a psychoanalyst? How do we identify the genuine product? This is an important and complexsubject. The International Psycho-Analytical Association approached it by choosing "The Identity of the Psychoanalyst" as the topic for a symposium, conducted in English and French, in Haslemere, England, February 18-23, 1976. Thirty-four distinguished psychoanalysts from three continents participated. The results of their deliberations have been published as a monograph edited by Joseph and Widlöcher. The editors have organized the material in accordance with the progression of the seventeen formal papers and discussions presented at the symposium followed by "Reflections" on them by Robert Wallerstein and J.-B. Pontalis.
The monograph is excellent, thought provoking, and still timely. The participants deal openly and in depth with the issues of the identity theme, including personal, professional, and social aspects. In fact, a better title for the symposium might have been "The Identities of the Psychoanalyst." Yet it is true that personal, professional, and social identities need to be brought together comfortably.
There was awareness by all the participants that psychoanalysis is difficult to learn and that it takes a long time to gain a true, stable, maturely flexible psychoanalytic identity. Several speakers noted that the psychoanalyst "at work" doing treatment and research is usually what best defines a psychoanalyst. An internalized psychoanalytic point of view is built around a way of mental functioning that needs to be painfully learned and relearned by each generation and by each analyst (p. 276). The autonomy of the ego functions serving this analytic identity requires clinical practice, self-analysis, continuing education, and participation in scientific groups.
The tripartite system of psychoanalytic education promotes a series of partial identifications with training analysts, supervisors, teachers, and colleagues that permits our students not only to become psychoanalysts but also to think, feel, and react as psychoanalysts, i.e., to form a psychoanalytic identity (p. 14). The training
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