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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Nov 13, 2022

"It seemed to me in my training, also in my scholarly pursuits, that desire did not have conceptual status in most analytic clinical theory. Most traditions did not have a way of talking about the analyst’s motivations with the exception of the well-worn ideas about the analyst’s ‘blind spots’. But in terms of specific motivations, we just didn’t have a way to think about them. Yet it seemed to me that over and over again, especially around the thorny problem of clinical impasses and iatrogenic resistances caused by the analyst’s activity, that the analyst’s intention and desire was directly at play in those impasses. But we have no way to talk about it."  


Episode Description: We begin by discussing Mitchell's notion of the analyst's desire. We consider its relation to wishes and healing which leads us to consider analytic listening. He embraces the metaphor of the innkeeper who asks, “What brings you here?” Mitchell shares his thoughts on reverie and projective identification which he feels are overvalued as dependable sources of information on the inner life of a patient. We discuss the usefulness of behavior change preceding insight and Lacan's notion of dual-relation resistance. We close with his chapter on termination and with his sharing poignant aspects of his childhood that open the book in Chapter One. 


Our Guest: Mitchell Wilson, MD is a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, writer, editor and teacher. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Wilson has published fiction, literary criticism, and papers on the history of American psychiatry and the DSM. He has practiced and taught psychoanalysis in the Bay Area since 1990. His psychoanalytic writings have cohered around a theory of ethics, desire, and the psychoanalytic process. His book, The Analyst’s Desire: The Ethical Foundation of Clinical Practice, was published in 2020. He is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, and a Personal and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. He is in private practice and leads study groups in Berkeley, California. 


Recommended Readings: 


Benjamin, J. (2004). Beyond Doer and Done to: an Intersubjective View of Third-ness. Psychoanal. Q., 73:5-46. 



Chetrit-Vatine, V. (2014). The Ethical Seduction of the Analytic Situation: The Feminine-Maternal Origins of Responsibility for the Other. London: Karnac. 



Lacan, J. (1992). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959–1960, ed. J.-A. Miller, trans. D. Porter. New York: Norton. 



Lear, J. (2003). The Idea of a Moral Psychology: The Impact of Psychoanalysis on Philosophy in Britain. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 84:1351–1361. 


Wilson, M. (2020). The Analyst's Desire: The Ethical Foundation of Clinical Practice. Bloomsbury Academic Press. 


JAPA Section: Ethical Implications of the Analyst as Person—December 2016 


–– Kite, J.V. The Fundamental Ethical Ambiguity of the Analyst as Person. 


–– Morris, H. The Analyst’s Offer. 


–– Wilson, M. The Ethical Foundation of Analytic Action. 


–– Kattlove, S. Acknowledging the ‘Analyst as Person’: a Developmental Achievement. 


–– Moss, D. Me Here, You There––Now what? Commentary on Kite, Morris, Wilson, and Kattlove.