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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

May 16, 2021

"In the group that I co-chair on the Aging Analyst we’ve talked a lot about what difference it makes having practiced a long time. One of the ideas that emerged is not only that this varies from person to person, but that there is a lot more freedom to use some different approaches, less rigid, less specifically theory focused. The role of life experience certainly changes what you hear and how you hear it."


Episode Description: We discuss how practicing analysis for many decades impacts one's approach to the work. Dr. Notman has focused her career on women's psychology, especially as it relates to body image and reproduction. She has also worked at the interface between psychoanalysis and psychiatry. A leitmotif of her analytic thinking is the importance of listening to the patient's felt experience — not theory and not what you think they should be saying. We discuss the impact on one's work of living through history and cultural movements, from anti-Semitism to feminism to racism, and how this informs one's attunement to the experience of otherness that is both universal and particular. We close with some thoughts on the importance of organized psychoanalysis widening its tent while also maintaining what is unique to becoming a psychoanalyst.


Our Guest: Malkah Notman, MD is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (BPSI) and has been practicing for over 50 years. She is a Professor at Harvard Medical School and on the faculty of Cambridge Health Alliance. She is co-chair of the BPSI committee on the Aging Analyst where they have been exploring the impact of age on changes in one's work and also on working with older patients.


Recommended Readings:

Settlage, C. Transcending Old Age. IJP 1996, 77, part 3, pp 549-564


Notman, M. Reflections on Widowhood and its Effects on the Self, Psychodynamic Psychiatry. 2014, vol 42, pp 65-88


Orgel, S.A. Patient Returns. JAPA ,2013:61, pp935-946