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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Apr 18, 2021

"It’s very exhilarating to have shared an in-depth experience with another person the way you do as an analyst. You know the inner workings of people’s struggles, of their strengths, and of the things they overcome. We’re granted such a privilege to be part of someone’s’ world and to be able to help them get more freedom and more pleasure in that world, and when it works well, the patients are really exhilarated in the end."



Episode Description: Dr. Kantrowitz discovered many facets of the analytic process, termination period, and post-analytic time that challenge assumptions under which the field has been operating. She derived these conclusions from detailed interviews with 82 individuals who had completed their analyses. We review the common post analysis intrapsychic processes that former analysands face and recognize that neither certainties nor formulas do justice to the authenticity and variety of their experiences. We discuss the multiplicity of affects that accompany endings and review the delicacy of negotiating the closeness and distance that the two individuals may face in post-analytic contacts. We conclude with Dr. Kantrowitz sharing some of the personal meanings that her interest in termination has had for her.


Our Guest: “Hard to believe; I have been doing psychoanalysis for almost 50 years. I began my training at a time when psychologists were not permitted to analyze patients except for research purposes. If not for this requirement, I wonder whether I would ever have begun a research project since my interest was only in being a clinician — and it is true to this day. Since my early progressive education taught me to question authority, it was always hard for me to just accept what we were taught.

My research has been in investigating issues that made no sense to me: the ability to predict who is analyzable in advance; psychoanalysis as a one-person enterprise; countertransference as inevitably pathology rather than informative; how we preserve confidentiality in writing about patients; there being only one way of terminating a psychoanalysis.

My interest has always been in character. I have always been a reader of novels, wanted to be a writer originally but lacked that imaginative ark. I've been lucky to find a way to integrate my love of character and writing in my professional work. I have written four books: The Patient's Impact on the Analyst (1996); Writing about Patients: responsibilities, risks, and ramifications (2006); Myths of Termination: What patients can teach analyst about endings (2014) and The Role of Patient - Analyst Match in the Process and Outcome of Psychoanalysis (2020) as well as over 40 papers. Over the years my writing has become more and more purely clinical, and I have felt increasingly able to be more personal, hopefully without being inappropriate, in what I write.

I love to supervise, to teach, to mentor and have been fortunate to have ample opportunity to do all of that as a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute as well as working with many other analysts in other states.  Psychoanalysis has also provided me with a world of colleagues many of whom have become close friends. My hope is that I have helped to convey and provide for others some of the richness and joy that psychoanalysis has brought to my life.


Recommended Readings:

Kantrowitz, J.L. (2015). Myths of Termination: What Patients Can Teach Psychoanalysts About Endings. Routledge, London


Kantrowitz, J.L. Reflections on Mortality: A Patient Faces Death. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Assn.2017: 65:673-686


Kantrowitz, J.L. A Psychoanalytic Memoir: The Analyst, Enabled and Disabled by What's Persona. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Assn,2020.:68 83-100.