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Newirth, J. (2003). Discussion of Eisold's “Profession of Psychoanalysis”. Contemp. Psychoanal., 39(4):619-627.

(2003). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 39(4):619-627

Discussion of Eisold's “Profession of Psychoanalysis” Related Papers

Joseph Newirth, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

I AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL to Kenneth Eisold for his important paper. It provides a point of departure for a long-overdue discussion of serious problems in psychoanalysis, including our training programs, our lack of an exciting intellectual focus, and our inability to inspire an informed public. I am in complete agreement with Dr. Eisold's observations and conclusions about the problems and failures in the profession of psychoanalysis, and I would like to elaborate on some of his points, as well as to develop some ideas on possible directions to take in addressing these problems in psychoanalysis.

Eisold begins his discussion from a sociological and organizational perspective, describing the professionalization of psychoanalysis and how it has led to the development of conservative institutions that are more interested in protecting parochial theoretical systems, limited economic interests, and prerogatives of a psychoanalytic oligarchy rather then engaging in a public discourse that would extend the values and knowledge of psychoanalysis. He points out the radical nature of the early psychoanalytic enterprise, which he illustrates with Freud's stand against the sexual hypocrisy of his time and which could also include many other psychoanalytic pioneers. Psychoanalysis as a radical critique of society was central to other seminal thinkers, including Sullivan, Fromm, Horney, Klein, and Lacan. This radical critique of society of early psychoanalysis was at the core of a wider intellectual interest in psychoanalysis as well as its attraction to idealistic and politically conscious individuals who became future psychoanalysts.

Unfortunately, psychoanalysis's radical critique of society has turned inward, becoming a conservative or reactionary critique of nonconforming psychoanalytic institutes and practices. It has devolved to a “paranoid cast to the organizational world of psychoanalysis.”

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