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Sandberg, L.S. (1998). Analytic Listening and the Act of Prescribing Medication. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(5):621-638.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(5):621-638

Analytic Listening and the Act of Prescribing Medication

Larry S. Sandberg, M.D.

What is needed is not the insistence that one see with his own eyes; rather it is that he not explain away under the pressure of prejudice what has been seen.

—Edmund Husserl (quoted in Davidson and Strauss, 1995)

Arnold Cooper (1985), in his provocative article on neurobiology and psychoanalysis, asked “Will Neurobiology Influence Psychoanalysis?” He wondered if an analyst's theories would be and should be altered by advances in the neurosciences. The increased use of medication for patients in analysis is one way in which neuroscientific advances undoubtedly have influenced analysts (Donovan and Roose, 1995; Roose and Stern, 1995). Given the complex relationship between theory and practice (Michels, in press)—as suggested by the opening quote—it is worthwhile to ask how the mind of a pharmacologically informed analyst works. How does being “pharmacologically informed” influence our listening?

To make the discussion as specific as possible, I am focusing on an aspect of the analyst's mind, that of being “pharmacologically informed,” as opposed to being “biologically informed.” There are several reasons for this.

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