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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Oct 25, 2020

"One of Freud’s letters to Ferenczi is a letter dated October 1918, just before the truce that ended World War I. And in this letter, Freud was responding to Ferenczi’s lament over the demise and disintegration of the monarchy, and his advice to Ferenczi went like this: “Withdraw your libido from your fatherland in a timely fashion and shelter it in psychoanalysis or else you will have to feel uncomfortable."


Description: Dr. Steven Rolfe welcomes Dr. Eran Rolnik to today’s podcast. Dr. Rolnik is a training and supervising analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society. A psychiatrist and historian, Dr. Rolnik is on the faculty at Tel-Aviv University, faculty of Humanities and Tel-Aviv University School of Post-graduate Training in Psychotherapy at the Faculty of Medicine. He is on the faculty of the Max Eitingon Institute for Psychoanalysis. He has authored, edited, coedited, and translated more than twenty books and has over seventy peer-review journal papers. He recently edited and translated from German a volume of Freud’s letters; a non-fiction best seller in Israel.


In this episode, Dr. Rolnik shares how Freud’s theory achieved its greatest development during times of crisis and suggests how Freud’s teachings and letters can help us analyze our current reality during a pandemic.


Key takeaways:

[4:43] Dr. Eran Rolnik talks about the current situation in Israel.

[9:55] Dr. Rolnik shares his recent publication of Freud’s letters.

[12:20] Psychoanalysis was viewed as an antidote to the discontent with modern political life.

[15:18] We often fail to take notice of the impact of identification regarding our personal analytic thinking and the functioning of our institutions.

[18:45] Dr. Rolnik shares how patients are currently adapting to treatment in Israel.

[20:56] Dr. Rolnik shares an example of the underlying meaning of the pandemic to a patient

[28:20] Does reality ever determine it is time to stop seeing patients?

[32:25] Psychoanalysis is not just a profession, it is a confession.

[34:07] In our currently reality it is tempting to focus on the real and neglect the symbolic.

[35:01] How did Freud handle times of extreme anxiety and fear and how has this affected theory?

[39:48] Freud was concerned with the survival of psychoanalysis rather than with his personal survival.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch


Recommended Readings:

Rolnik, Eran J. 2020. Epistolary Epiphanies: Freud as a Letter Writer In: Freud, Berggasse 19 The Origin of Psychoanalysis. Pessler, M.& Finzi D. Eds. pp. 242-249 (Hatje Cantz, Berlin)


Rolnik, Eran J. (2019) Sigmund Freud's Letters (Heb.) Modan Publishers.


Rolnik, E.J. (2015). Before Babel: Reflections on Reading and Translating Freud. Psychoanal Q., 84(2):307-330.


Rolnik, Eran, J. (2012). Freud in Zion: Psychoanalysis and the Making of Modern Jewish Identity (Karnac London).


Rolnik, E.J. (2008). “Why is it that I See Everything Differently?” Reading a 1933 Letter from Paula Heimann to Theodor Reik. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 56(2):409-430.


Rolnik, E.J. (2001). Between Memory and Desire: From History to Psychoanalysis and Back. Psychoanal. Hist., 3(2):129-151