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Vida, J.E. (2007). Introduction to Owning It, by Joel Miller, M.D.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(4):385-385.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(4):385-385

On the Arts

Introduction to Owning It, by Joel Miller, M.D.

Edited by:
Judith E. Vida, M.D.

Part memoir, part guidebook, and wholly psychoanalytic in the deepest sense, “Owning It” by Joel Miller takes us into new territory inside the experience of engaging with art. While it is no longer unusual for us psychoanalysts to weave passionate encounters with certain visual, literary, musical and media-based works into our scholarly papers and presentations, Joel Miller invites us into the private transformational space of passion become possession,1 and then goes on to consider dimensions of illumination and risk that attend such transformation. In his very first paragraph, he tells us he will dispense with the safer stance of objectivity and judgment (i.e. interpretation); his approach to art admits of no interlocutor. As Joel Miller dives into the source-waters of his own responding to and collecting art, he offers a generous new paradigm for an ongoing project of self-awareness.


1 Joel Miller's point of view is actually not well-served by this irresistible witticism; “stewardship” is a much better word than “possession.” Collecting, and “owning it,” as he presents it, is about personal understanding and acceptance rather than commodification of the object of art.

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