Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see definitions for highlighted words…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Some important words in PEP Web articles are highlighted when you place your mouse pointer over them. Clicking on the words will display a definition from a psychoanalytic dictionary in a small window.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Forrest, D.V. (2018). On the Couch: A Repressed History of the Analytic Couch from Plato to Freud, by Nathan Kravis, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2017, xvi + 204 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 46(3):452-456.

(2018). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 46(3):452-456

On the Couch: A Repressed History of the Analytic Couch from Plato to Freud, by Nathan Kravis, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2017, xvi + 204 pp.

Review by:
David V. Forrest, M.D.

When is the last time you read something by a psychoanalyst that was fun? Please don’t say Freud’s painful joke book. Nathan Kravis has produced a stunning picture book that is as delightful as it is stimulating. It sumptuously illustrates the furniture of recumbence from antiquity to today, not stopping with or particularly valorizing Freud. Freud’s Rühebett (resting or reposing bed, daybed) and décor reflecting his “moral interior” (Kravis’s term) values with their “unabashed orientalist and archaeological motifs” have given way to “a more Spartan, austere analytic couch that closely resembles the Greco-Roman dining couch” (p. 139). This may not be universally true: For more than a decade I rented an office on Central Park West from the widow of a Viennese surgeon that might have been described as Dracula meets Liberace. Kravis shows that the couchly memes Freud inherited and could not ignore include a place to eat and drink together (Greek symposium), a symbol of social stature (that’s an oxymoron!) from antiquity and Christianity, a seductive and sybaritic comforter, and a contrived and aseptic medical implement where supposedly therapeutic interventions were visited upon a recumbent and passive patient. Patient is a word sometimes avoided by analysts because it is so literally true, and replaced in 1917 by analysand, modeled upon multiplicand (we wish to have more of them) or ordinand (a candidate for ordination, as applied to candidates). The worse term client (lawyer’s customer or computer that receives from a server) comes from an old Latin word for seeking protection (and bending to) a powerful person.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2018 and more current articles see the publishers official website.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.