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Moulton, R. (1969). My Memories of Being Supervised. Contemp. Psychoanal., 5(2):151-157.

(1969). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 5(2):151-157

My Memories of Being Supervised

Ruth Moulton, M.D.

DURING MY ANALYTIC TRAINING I worked with three supervisors, Erich Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, in that order. Each had such a distinct and powerful personality that it would have been impossible to have imitated or identified with each in turn; to have incorporated all three at once would have been indigestible. They emphasized quite different aspects of case material, and each had special interests of his own. They were considered, at least by the students, to prefer to work or to work best with different kinds of patients.

I thought I could learn most by selecting the type of patient that seemed most appropriate to the predilections of the given supervisor and putting myself in the most responsive mood to absorb what he wanted to teach. I then tried to get perspective by comparing the experiences afterwards. The job of integrating what I learned from each into a style of my own was a continuing process that goes on to this day. Each, in his own way, had such an uncanny ability to see into the machinations of both student and patient that I was not tempted to select material in order to please. I was sure such a false effort would have been quickly discerned and exposed.

Erich Fromm's brilliant grasp of psychodynamics was most impressive. He was particularly interested in the use of dreams and fantasies as well as conscious verbal productions and had a powerful way of using them to read the unconscious of the patient. Fromm, who was irritable with mere verbiage and refused to let the patient talk about himself, emphasized the importance of getting the patient to talk from within himself, to be himself, to genuinely experience himself and the analytic situation.

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