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Grundy, D. (1997). Writer-Reader Relationships In Psychoanalysis: A review of Writing in Psychoanalysis, edited by Emma Piccioli, Pier Luigi Rossi, and Antonio Alberto Semi. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1996. ix + 129 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 33:507-511.

(1997). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 33:507-511

Writer-Reader Relationships In Psychoanalysis: A review of Writing in Psychoanalysis, edited by Emma Piccioli, Pier Luigi Rossi, and Antonio Alberto Semi. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1996. ix + 129 pp.

Review by:
Dominick Grundy, Ph.D.

WHEN ANALYSTS USED TO WRITE about writers, they were often buoyed by a conviction that they were talking about another species. Those who recall the heyday of Edmund Bergler (1949) in midcentury may also recall his extensive analysis of writers.

The writer acts both roles—that of the giving mother and the recipient child—on his own person. He gives to himself, out of himself, beautiful words and ideas, thus establishing an autarchy. . . . Whereas the typical neurotic needs two people (himself and an object) for unconscious reenactment of an infantile fantasy, the writer combines both roles into one. (pp. 81-82)

The insight is shrewd, but the innocence Bergler displays in not applying it to himself, an analyst said to have produced four books a year and more than three hundred papers, would be difficult to preserve today.

The old idea of the analyst as objective observer of psychic phenomena has been dethroned; we postmoderns have guillotined the neutral medium. To be consistent, we must scrutinize how ideas in psychological discourse are affected by the medium in which they appear, including writing. (Was not one of Spence’s accusations against Freud that he was too good a writer?) More typical now, a half-century after Bergler, would be this comment by Stanley Olinick (1997) in a discussion of writer’s block: “During many years, I was at times peripherally aware of writing for a vaguely defined, taciturn, critical colleague in some distant city” (p.

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