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Crumbley, A. (2011). A Conversation with Jay Greenberg. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(2):175-182.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(2):175-182

Interview Series

A Conversation with Jay Greenberg

Alex Crumbley, Ph.D.

AC: What do you see as the most important issue currently facing psychoanalysis?

JG: In this I know that I disagree with a lot of what people are saying these days, but I see a tremendous amount of intellectual vitality around. If you look not only at institutes in North America but also in different parts of the world, there's really a tremendous amount going on in psychoanalysis. I just got an e-mail from a friend who was in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. He said that people were snapping up dictionaries of psychoanalysis in the airport bookstore. In places like France and Argentina, psychoanalysis has a somewhat different position within the economy and also in the intellectual community than it does in the United States. So beyond the clinical-economic difficulties, a very important issue is finding a way to engage the creative thinking that is going on within psychoanalysis with other disciplines, within the humanities and social sciences, to communicate the kind of concerns we have, the kind of work we're doing.

We care about things in psychoanalysis in ways that other people don't, and that doesn't always make what we have to say popular or even palatable. But it does touch the way other people think about things. We care about how people accommodate unbearable circumstances in their lives. I don't mean just war or hurricanes or traumas, although we should probably be thinking more about those sorts of things. What we do focus on is the unbearable experience of everyday life. We're interested in that, we think about it and about how it subsequently affects the ways in which our lives unfold. We care about how people's hearts and minds are not of a piece, that people are in conflict and try to live their lives in a way that keeps them from being torn up by conflicting feelings, motives, goals, and loyalties. Very few people really think that way, and there's no other academic discipline that devotes itself to that. So it seems to me that the thing we have to try to do is engage with people who are working in related areas, to demonstrate that we have something to offer.

AC: What do you think about the traditional distinction between psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically oriented therapy?

JG: There are two things I would want to say about that.

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