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Bernstein, S.B. Bornstein, M. Palmer, J. Rosenbaum, A.L. Westin, S. (2008). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 28(4):401-403.

(2008). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 28(4):401-403

Prologue

Issue Editor:
Stephen B. Bernstein, M.D., Melvin Bornstein, M.D., Jonathan Palmer, M.D., Arthur L. Rosenbaum, M.D. and Sharen Westin, M.D.

The seeds for this issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry were planted about fifteen years ago, when several of the authors (Bernstein, Bornstein, Rosenbaum) became aware that many contemporary psychoanalysts experienced difficulty and distress when they tried to describe their clinical work in writing, specifically during the process of certification by the American Psychoanalytic Association, but also in other arenas as well. As we read many of their clinical reports during this time, it became apparent to us that the clinical writing skills, which should have been acquired and practiced during analytic training, were often absent.

When we had the opportunity to speak with them, many analysts described their distress in detail. In addition to difficulties in selecting and organizing their material, they were troubled by not knowing how to approach the daunting task of opening and organizing numerous notebooks, reviving the intense experiences therein, and then trying to convey what had occurred in the analysis to an unknown reader. Their model for analytic writing was often based on the theoretical discussions and the short vignettes or summaries that they had read in our literature. The language that they had been taught to use in describing analysis was abstract and too distant from what they had actually experienced with their patient. They also told us of their feelings of fear and shame—concerns that what they wrote might not be “analytic enough,” or that their actual experience might not be acceptable to an unknown reader.

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