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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

May 10, 2019

“One of his delusions was that all the doctors treating him were fake doctors. After about two years of therapy, this delusion went away. He later considered that ‘you cannot be a doctor without listening to your patient. If you don’t listen to your patient and try to understand him, you’re a fake doctor.”  There was an emotional sense behind the delusions and I think this is what we try to do in psychotherapy.”


Description: Harvey Schwartz welcomes Dr. Ilan Amir, who is a psychiatrist and a training and supervising psychoanalyst at the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society and is a lecturer at the Tel Aviv University Psychotherapy Program. Dr. Amir is a founding member and current chair of Lechol Nefesh — which means “for every soul”. This is a program dedicated to the use of psychoanalytic therapies for chronically mentally ill patients in public health settings. This program is equally devoted to the empirical study of the clinical outcome of these therapies.


As you will hear in today’s interview, Dr. Amir reveals himself to be an analyst quite capable both of deep immersion in the personal intimacy of long-term clinical treatment of patients, as well as someone who values the careful study of the utility of those treatments.


Key takeaways:

[3:05] The concept of psycho-dialysis explained by Dr. Ilan Amir through a clinical example.

[14:33] Lechol Nefesh and Dr. Ilan Amir’s work.

[18:27] Patients needed to commit to come to sessions three times a week for three years.

[18:45] Outcome research.

[22:29] All patients stopped their hospitalization.

[23:31] Realizing the need for intensive and long-term psychotherapy.

[24:12] Psychoanalysts’ ability to listen.

[25:20] Having faith in therapy.

[26:33] The importance of the connection with patients and the understanding of the complexities of each case.

[27:18] Why psycho-dialysis?


Mentioned in this episode:

Lechol Nefesh


Recommended Readings:

Balint, M. (1979). The Basic Fault.  1-196. London/New York: Tavistock Publications


Phases of patient-therapist interaction in the therapy of chronic Schizophrenia. In Searles, H. Collected Papers on Schizophrenia and Related Subjects. New York: International Universities Press 1965


Treatment of Psychotic States. In Stolorow RD, Brandchaft B, Atwood AE. Psychoanalytic Treatment: An Intersubjective Approach.  The Analytic Press Hillsdale NJ 1987


Winnicott, D.W. Fear of Breakdown. Int. R. Psycho-Anal. (1974). 1:103-107.