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Schuman, E.P. (1981). A Writing Block Treated with Modern Psychoanalytic Interventions. Psychoanal. Rev., 68(1):113-134.

(1981). Psychoanalytic Review, 68(1):113-134

A Writing Block Treated with Modern Psychoanalytic Interventions

Elliott P. Schuman, Ph.D.


Interference with functioning is a typical reason a psychoanalyst is consulted. Freud is supposed to have been asked what a normal person should be able to do well, and to him is attributed (among others, by Erikson), the response “To love and to work.”4 In fact, interferences may affect one's work or relationships with others, and appear to be related to, or consequences of, how the self is regarded. Usually when one area is affected, all three are.

The “work” may be writing, for economic or psychological reasons. The person who writes to obtain income, or to secure what may lead to income, greater income, or greater security of income (renown, awards, titles, promotion, degrees, or tenure) illustrates the economic reason for writing. The psychological rationale for writing is described by Bergler:

Psychologically, a writer is a person who unconsciously tries to solve his inner problems via the sublimatory medium of writing…. everyone who feels impelled to write, whether he writes freely, merely attempts to do so, or suffers long periods of inhibition between his periods of productivity, is by the terms of the definition, psychologically a writer.1a

Writing, hence, is one kind of activity with which one may experience difficulties. Robbins stated

Disturbances in function, that is difficulties encountered in the actual exercise of effort required to accomplish something, are frequently the very bread and butter of neurotic character structures.14a


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