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Bernfeld, S. (1962). On Psychoanalytic Training. Psychoanal Q., 31:453-482.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:453-482

On Psychoanalytic Training

Siegfried Bernfeld, Ph.D.


Ten years ago, on November 10, 1952, a few months before his death on April 2, 1953, Siegfried Bernfeld gave his last paper before the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Not surprisingly, this contribution of a teacher of psychoanalysis for some thirty years concerned itself with the issue of psychoanalytic training. He had inspired generations of young analysts, who trained with him or knew him through his writings, by his search for truth, even when painful, his personal honesty and scientific integrity, and by his deep commitment to psychoanalysis. He spoke unsparingly of himself or others, forthrightly and with passion. This last essay will testify to these qualities. And, still, it is with hesitancy that I have prepared his manuscript for publication.

Had Bernfeld himself prepared the paper for publication, he would most likely have cut out the autobiographical remarks. And it would have had a totally different character, representing his ideas in his usual objective form. As the paper stands now, it is a document of Bernfeld's troubled reactions to the problems of psychoanalytic training.

Bernfeld's address as usual was given extempore, but we had his first draft with a few of his own assembled corrections. I also had available an almost identical manuscript, assembled by Bernice Engle and Peter Paret from notes taken by some members of the audience as well as by a stenographer.

I have made but few changes, such as exchanging a word here or there in order to make sure that the meaning intended would come across. I have omitted a few repetitions. I have left certain anecdotes and expressions in the text which he might have eliminated from a printed version, but which seemed to retain the flavor of his personal style and his powerful capacity to communicate to an audience his ideas as well as his feelings through the spoken word.


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