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Bergmann, M.S. (1988). Who is a Lay Analyst?. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(3):361-372.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(3):361-372

Who is a Lay Analyst?

Martin S. Bergmann

It is proper and fitting to commemorate the publication of Freud's The Question of Lay Analysis, for this pamphlet, now hardly ever remembered or quoted, has the status of the Magna Carta for the NPAP. No psychoanalytic organization has embodied the ideas of that work more consistently. The occasion for the celebration of this work is well known. In 1926, Theodor Reik was sued for the Austrian equivalent to practicing medicine without a license. Freud (1926) used the opportunity to explain the nature of psychoanalysis and save psychoanalysis from the danger of becoming a handmaiden to psychiatry:

For we do not consider it at all desirable for psychoanalysis to be swallowed up by medicine and to find its last resting-place in a textbook of psychiatry under the heading “Methods of Treatment,” alongside of procedures such as hypnotic suggestion, autosuggestion, and persuasion, (p. 248)

He went on to say:

Psychoanalysis is not a specialized branch of medicine. I cannot see how it is possible to dispute this. Psychoanalysis is a part of psychology; not of medical psychology in the old sense, not of the psychology of morbid processes, but simply of psychology. It is certainly not the whole of psychology, but its substructure and perhaps even its entire foundation. The possibility of its application to medical purposes must not lead us astray, (p. 252)

Freud wanted psychoanalysis to become “depth psychology” and to be seen as the theory of the “mental unconscious.” As such, it should contribute to the understanding of education, art, literature, group psychology, the evolution of civilization, and religion. The use of psychoanalysis as a treatment for neurosis should be only one of its applications, and he hoped not even the most important one.

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