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Schimel, J.L. (1987). On Failed Intimacy. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 15(4):553-557.

(1987). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 15(4):553-557

On Failed Intimacy

John L. Schimel, M.D.

(Editor's Note: With this issue, The Journal of The American Academy of Psychoanalysis is initiating a new section to include short articles, clinical experiences, and different points of view in handling certain analytic situations. Readers are welcome to submit manuscripts.)

The subject of intimacy is an important one in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Most of our patients, after all, appear in our offices because of difficulties with ongoing relationships or because of an inability to establish an ongoing relationship.

In the early days of my practice, practically all of my patients were young, unmarried, and female. I began to wonder if all my training as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst had somehow led me to acquire a profession which my forebears had referred to as that of a schadchen, or professional matchmaker. These young women convinced me that young men were an unsatisfactory, unsavory lot, a disappointment, and a waste of their time. Subsequently, I had a series of young unmarried male patients who, in turn, convinced me that the young women of the time were frustrating, ungiving, exploitative, and a waste of their time and efforts. Since I was persuaded and convinced by both my young female and young male patients, I was perplexed, to say the least.

I was reminded of an old rabbinical story:

A rabbi saw, in turn, a quarreling husband and then his wife. To the complaints of each he murmured, “You're right; you're right.” The rabbi's wife had been eavesdropping.

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