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Appelbaum, A. Diamond, D. (1993). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 13(2):145-152.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 13(2):145-152


Ann Appelbaum, M.D. and Diana Diamond, Ph.D.

Commenting on a review by W. S. Williams that praised Jane Eyre had it been written by a man and condemned it as “odious” if written by a woman, Charlotte Bronte wrote, “To such critics I would say, ‘To you I am neither a man nor a woman — I come before you as an author only. It is the sole standard by which you have the right to judge me — the sole ground on which I accept your judgment’” (Wise, 1932).

A (female) interviewer recently asked Natalia Ginzburg whether her friendship with Elsa Morante “… was different from her friendship with other … writers because they were both women: She looks impatient. ‘Of course not. A writer is a writer. You care about writing. It isn't men or women. I find these feminists very annoying, putting together these anthologies of women writers. As if there were a difference. You sit down, you write, you are not a woman or an Italian. You are a writer’” (1990).

If one substituted “analyst” for “writer” and “patients” for “critics” or “friends” in these quotations, they would express a wish wistfully held by most analysts: to work in an anonymity within which patients' transference would unfold with a freedom not encumbered by the awkward fact that the analyst is real.

Until about 20 years ago that wish was more than a wish: it was a belief, one that began to be eroded only with the publication, in 1961, of Leo Stone's landmark monograph, The Psychoanalytic Situation. Prior to that work, Freud's poetic image of the analyst as mirror had so hardened into dogma that the actuality of the analyst was regarded as irrelevant to the psychoanalytic process. Transference would assert its power to obscure the reality of the person of the analyst, who meanwhile would maintain analytic anonymity, refraining from mentioning any personal information to the patient.

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