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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Sep 4, 2022

"I think that writing also is among the things that help me think this through and get there. When I finished my degree, I was actually very pessimistic - I had no idea that at close to age 55-56 that a psychoanalytic institute would even consider me but I did decide to take the leap and I ended up going to BPSI [Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute] and here I am." — Ellen Pinsky 


"The training time was a time of discovering - we read the authors I knew, and what was happening to me also at that moment, what kind of an analyst would I be during and after the training? My background encouraged me to go on - when it was difficult to go on searching for the truth, searching for the knowledge, but the knowledge about myself during the training and it went on in my actual training analysis." —Susana Merlo 


Episode Description: We discuss Susana's and Ellen's first careers in education and what led them "to wish to go deeper." They both describe the formative contributions of their own analyses as well as the influence of analytic writers that they valued. We consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of each of the many backgrounds that we bring to our clinical work and share conclusions about the similarities and differences in how we practice. We discuss some of their favorite writers and we conclude with their perspectives on the future of psychoanalysis both in the States and in Argentina. 


Our Guests: 

Susana Ruth Merlo is a member of APdeBA (Asociación Psicoanalítica de Buenos Aires, Argentina) and holds a position as an Associated Professor at IUSAM of APdeBA (Instituto Universitario de Salud Mental de APdeBA), where she teaches Introduction to the ideas of Melanie Klein and English School. She provided school psychological services in school settings for 15 years. At present provides therapy to children, adolescents, and adults in a private clinic setting. Susana holds two university degrees, School Psychology (1986) and Clinical Psychology (2007). 


Ellen Pinsky came to psychoanalysis as a second profession following 25 years as a middle school English teacher. She says her experience in the classroom with 12 and 13-year-olds taught her most of what she needed to know to become a credible clinician. She is the author of Death and Fallibility in the Psychoanalytic Encounter: Mortal Gifts. About her book, Thomas Ogden writes: “Mortal Gifts is a necessary book—necessary for analysts and necessary for the analyses they conduct. In it, Ellen addresses a long-neglected issue in the practice of psychoanalysis: the analyst’s failure to include in the very fiber of the analysis the fact of his or her mortality.” In 2014 she was awarded BPSI’s Deutsch Prize for her essay “The Olympian Delusion” (JAPA, 2011) 


Recommended Readings: 


Bion, W. Learning from experience. Aprendiendo de la Experiencia Paidós, (2009) Bs.As. 


Hustvedt, S. The Sorrows of an American. Elegía para un Americano. Anagrama (2009) Barcelona. 


Klein, M. Our adult world and its roots in infancy. Nuestro Mundo Adulto y Sus Raíces en la Infancia. En Envidia y Gratitud, OC. Paidós (1991) Bs.As. 


Meltzer, D. A Psychoanalytical Model of the Child in the Family in the Community. Familia y Comunidad, Spatia editorial (1990) Bs. As. 


Nemas, C. Strangers in Virtual Land. Toronto Psychoanalytic Society – 22nd Annual day in applied psychoanalysis (2021) 


  1. Freud, Observations on Transference Love (1915)


Remembering, Repeating and Working-through (1914) 


  1. Freud, Fort-Da” from Beyond the Pleasure Principle, (1920, 14-15)


Paula Heimann, On Counter-transference (1950) 


  1. W. Winnicott, The Use of an Object (1969)


Hans Loewald, On the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis (1960) 


James Strachey, The Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis (1934) 


Brian Bird, Notes on Transference (1972) 


Betty Joseph, Transference: The Total Situation (1985) 


Ida Macalpine, The Development of Transference (1950) 


Irma Brenman Pick, Working through in the Countertransference (1985); 


Selma Fraiberg, Ghosts in the Nursery (1975) 


Hans Loewald, Transference and Love (2000 [1988] 549-563) 


Ella Freeman Sharpe, The Technique of Psychoanalysis, (on “Qualifying as an analyst,” 1930, 256-257).