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Colby, K.M. (1958-1959). Letter to a Young Psychoanalyst. Psychoanal. Rev., 45D(4):42-49.

(1958-1959). Psychoanalytic Review, 45D(4):42-49

Letter to a Young Psychoanalyst

Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D.

Dear FDB,

You asked me to tell you what the life of a psychoanalyst was really like. Indeed that is a topic which might be glancingly approached in a two-volume set of memoirs written only when one reaches seventy-five. Each decade from the larval age of promise to the bright-winged age of achievement, to the burdened age of responsibility, to the resigned age of wisdom, to the deadening age of obstruction brings new problems and contrasting views.

I have selected only one aspect not because it is of such shattering importance but because I have had occasion to collect some thoughts on it recently which may be of help to you. It is not a subject openly discussed in seminars, but I'm sure you have already given it some attention. I know that psychoanalytic candidates joke about it and swap those amusing tales which help to foster our folklore. But now that you have finished your long training and can call yourself a psychoanalyst, you will learn that it has its serious aspects as well.

I am thinking of the relations which psychoanalysts have towards one another in their profession. There are no authorities on the subject, and each man speaks for himself. You must remember that my own experience has been somewhat atypical and my opinions are those of a maverick. Still I will attempt to state the situation as I see it and leave it to you to temper these views with those of other unreluctant critics. I will try to make it unambiguous and end on a not too seraphic note of hope.

There is much more to being a psychoanalyst than treating patients.

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