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Winborn, M. (2020). Ogden, Thomas. (2019). ‘Ontological Psychoanalysis or “What do You Want to Be when You Grow up?”’ Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 88, 4, 661-84.. J. Anal. Psychol., 65(4):765-768.

(2020). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 65(4):765-768

Ogden, Thomas. (2019). ‘Ontological Psychoanalysis or “What do You Want to Be when You Grow up?”’ Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 88, 4, 661-84.

Review by:
Mark Winborn

Thomas Ogden has been at the forefront of creative, original analytic thought and practice for 40 years. During this period, he has published 11 books on psychoanalysis, 139 articles, numerous books chapters, and two novels. His oeuvre has contributed significantly to the emergence and development of the intersubjective perspective in psychoanalysis - which has moved the field from a one-person (isolated mind) perspective to a two-person interactive field theory and that now widely incorporates Odgen's (1994) concept of the ‘analytic third’ used to describe emergent experiences generated intersubjectively by the unique pairing of the analytic partners. The field of intersubjectivity and the concept of the analytic third can be thought of as similar to the alchemical relationship and the transcendent third described by Jung (1946) in ‘The psychology of the transference’. While Ogden's work is often classified as falling within the school of thought referred to as intersubjectivity, his ‘subjects of analysis’ range widely, including re-examinations of significant psychoanalytic theorists (such as Klein, Winnicott, Bion, and Searles), aesthetics, literature, poetry, language, and dreaming. However, Ogden always centres his focus on experience: the experience of the analyst and patient, the writer and audience, or the mother and infant. In this article, Ogden asks his readers to consider, or re-consider ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ By this he means ‘What is your experience of yourself as an analyst, therapist, or analytic candidate? and ‘Are you still in the process of becoming that person?’ Ogden's wish for us, and his implicit challenge to us, is that we will always be in the process of becoming. He also proposes that the question of ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is also the implicit question that most of our analysands carry with them into analysis, even when their conscious motivation is around symptomatic relief.

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