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Grey, A.L. (1989). The Analytic Career—Identity Change Through Adult Work Role. Contemp. Psychoanal., 25:641-662.

(1989). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 25:641-662

The Analytic Career—Identity Change Through Adult Work Role

Alan L. Grey, Ph.D.

TOPICS SLIGHTLY OFF THE BEATEN PATHsc like the psychodynamic examination of the work life, usually are legitimated by being traced back to Freud. Custom often serves a useful function. In this case, it tracks another instance of how an outmoded metapsychology continues to haunt clinical theory and practice. More specifically, it can illuminate why this important human activity, the work life, has been neglected as a treatment focus by psychoanalysts, despite the actual impact of their own careers. It also urges consideration of the effects of occupations generally, and other significant experiences in adulthood, as potential sources of personality change.

I. Sublimation and the Work Life

A convenient place to begin is with dreams, that is, with his own twenty-five fully reported ones in Freud's Interpretation of Dreams(1900). Despite the Freudian emphasis on sex and violence as the keys to unconscious human motivation, any present day movie censor would be hard pressed to attach even a "parental guidance" rating to a single one of those dreams. On the other hand, seventeen of them, or about seventy percent, manifestly reflect professional concerns. Nor does the manifest dream content mislead us about the actual facts of Freud's daily life. As Abraham Kardiner recalls (1957), Freud was:

A very modest man, living simply and quietly in Vienna and working twelve hours a day—not in the least a libertine. Disciplined dedication to his labors was his most conspicuous characteristic; he used in fact to boast about it. He took off only one Sunday afternoon a month.

Clearly, work was central to his existence.

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