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Sjödin, C. (2014). Clinical practice, conflict and alienation. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 23(3):133-134.

(2014). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 23(3):133-134


Clinical practice, conflict and alienation

Christer Sjödin

John Williams has written a remarkable novel, Stoner. I read his book during three rainy days at the end of June 2014. The gloomy weather was in resonance with my own mood, with my contemplations on my own working life, on my retirement, but also with the mood in the story about Stoner's life. His parents were farmers in the Middle-West of the USA. Stoner's intention was to take over the farm after his studies in agronomy at the State University of Missouri. But he chose another path for his life when he fell in love with English literature and started an academic career, instead of returning to the farm. His job at the university gave him a particular kind of identity and made him what he was. He was loyal to the university to the end of his life. Even if good things happened in his life, they all ended badly. His career was stymied by a malevolent head of department; he fell in love and married, but knew within a month that the relationship was a failure; he adored his daughter, but she was turned against him; he was given the possibility to a new life by an affair, but gave up his love when it threatened his future in the university. It might sound like a bad and sad life, but at the end Stoner was doing what he wanted to do. He was loyal to his vocation and sensed the importance of the job he was doing, a job in the good and honourable sense of the word.

Reading this novel I feel sympathy for Stoner and recognize his love for English literature in my own love for psychoanalysis.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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