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Newirth, J. (2017). Introduction to Panel: Therapists Coping with Cancer:Personal Accounts of Living and Working through Illness in the Consulting Room. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(2):211-212.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(2):211-212

Introduction to Panel: Therapists Coping with Cancer:Personal Accounts of Living and Working through Illness in the Consulting Room

Joseph Newirth, Ph.D., A.B.P.P

- 211 -

Becoming diagnosed with cancer, hearing those words spoken while in an extremely vulnerable, often half-undressed state, is deeply disorganizing, life shattering! Two questions immediately come into the foreground of consciousness: “Will I die?” … if I live … “What will my life be like?” Being diagnosed with cancer is a shattering experience for all people, not just analysts: It is an experience of speechlessness, an intrusion of the Lacanian real, a loss of a sense of subjectivity, of meaning, of personhood. However, and I hope this is not only my professional conceit, but for analysts, having cancer becomes more complex; our circles of intimate relationships extend beyond our immediate families and close friends to our patients, supervisees, and analysands. Unlike the well-articulated roles of being a needy, frightened person in a family or with close friends, the rules for navigating the unique intimate relationships with patients and analysands are far less clear, often emerging through dialogue, or negotiated in the “now moments” that come into being unexpectedly in a session. The analyst having cancer reverses the usual position, he/she has a devastating secret and must decide to tell or withhold this disturbing information, new concerns arise about how to handle his/her relationship with patients, analysands and supervisees. We question our sense of spontaneity, and our new concerns challenge the implicit and explicit

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