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Wallerstein, R.S. (2001). Letters to the Editor. Contemp. Psychoanal., 37(3):505-509.

(2001). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 37(3):505-509

Letters to the Editor

Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D.

August 10, 2000

To the Editor:

I do value Kenneth Eisold's appreciative review of my book, Lay Analysis: Life Inside the Controversy—even with his several caveats. However, I also do want to respond to those caveats, since I feel that they reflect some misconstruals of my positions on some of the issues dealt with in the book, and some misunderstandings of my intentions in writing it. Let me state these in turn.

Eisold feels that a focus on the historic debate about “lay analysis” is “an obsolete perspective.” He avers that trained mental health professionals, of whatever discipline, are in no logical sense “lay analysts,” and that the term should properly be reserved for members of other, nonclinical disciplines who come to psychoanalytic training with no prior work experience with the mentally and emotionally ill. I do agree completely with the logic of Eisold's perspective. My book, however, has been intended as a historical recounting of a controversy that has embroiled the International Psychoanalytical Association over almost the entirety of the twentieth century. I have therefore framed my presentation of the controversy in exactly the same manner as did Freud originally, when he saw it as the issue of the qualification (or not) of nonphysicians to practice psychoanalysis as a healing art. And that is exactly the way that those around Freud at the time (e.g., Jones, the Americans led by Brill and Oberndorf), and analysts ever since, have set the terms of the debate. This framework is therefore the almost universally perceived consensus—logical or not—within which I have understandably chosen to cast my discussion.

This is not to say that there is no merit in Eisold's call to distinguish between those who come to psychoanalysis with a background of training and experience in dealing with the mentally and emotionally disturbed and those who do not, the “true lay analysts.”

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