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Berman, E. Frankel, J. (2000). Sex, Lies, and Audiotape: Psychoanalysts Reflect on President Clinton's Impeachment. Psychoanal. Dial., 10(2):267-270.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10(2):267-270

Sex, Lies, and Audiotape: Psychoanalysts Reflect on President Clinton's Impeachment

Emanuel Berman, Ph.D. and Jay Frankel, Ph.D.

Are psychoanalysts capable of contributing, through their unique expertise, to the understanding of social and political topics? If so, should they get involved?

The dangers of such adventures far away from the consulting room have become clearer in recent decades. “Applied analysis,” as such nonclinical explorations used to be called, often became synonymous with omniscient reductionistic interpretations that disregarded the unique characteristics of their subject matter, be it literature, film (Berman, 1998), or politics, and turned everybody (national leaders, painters, fictional figures) into patients on our couch. Such imperialistic invasions often aroused the justified wrath of academic experts and of creative artists in the various fields invaded (Berman, 1997).

Should these unhappy results lead us to abandon any such endeavor? Not necessarily. Such a puristic solution may risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

In the past, a contrast was often suggested between the safe ground of clinical psychoanalysis, in which analysts can reach definitive understanding of the material, and the shaky ground of applied analysis, in which our efforts are more speculative. Our current perspective does not justify such a dichotomy.

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