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Silverstone, S.J. (1970). Note: On the Mystique of Training Analysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 57(2):283-284.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Review, 57(2):283-284

Note: On the Mystique of Training Analysis

Stanley J. Silverstone, Ph.D.

Psychoanalytic institutes have traditionally emphasized the importance of the training analysis in the growth of their training candidates. If one reads the catalogues of our psychoanalytic training centers, the purpose of this requirement is usually spelled out as the freeing of the student analyst from personal problems which might interfere with his ability to properly conduct analysis. In a limited way this statement is true in spirit if not in fact. However, persons integrated into the psychoanalytic community, our families and our friends, know that psychoanalysts, like other human beings, have their blind spots and their own personal conflicts. A former anlyst of mine was fond of saying that “psychoanalysts enjoy telling their patients that they are only human, but they don't really believe it.” This statement also is truer in spirit than it is in fact, since most trained analysts remain cognizant of their tendencies to over-react in certain areas, and to handle this by conscious restraint.

In his “Recommendations to Physicians Practicing Psychoanalysis” (1912), Freud expressed the belief that a personal psychoanalysis was necessary for every prospective psychanalyst. A quarter of a centry later, in “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (1937), Freud was still modest in his expectations of what a training analysis might reasonably expect to achieve. In describing a training analysis Freud states:

It has accomplished its purpose if it imparts to the learner a sincere conviction of the existence of the unconscious, enables him through the emergence of repressed material in his own mind to perceive in himself processes which otherwise he would have regarded as incredible, and gives him the first sample of the technique which has proved to be the only correct method in conducting analyses.

This rather unpretentious and realistic expectation of Freud's does not come close to the all too common projection onto analysts that they should be near perfect human beings.

From other therapeutic but nonanalytic (in some cases, antianalytic) camps, we hear the belief expressed that a personal psychoanalysis is not even necessary to conduct psychoterapy.

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