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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Dec 15, 2019

“There is nothing faith-based in the least about the Buddhist approach to spirituality. It is also direct and personal, there is no intermediary needed to access, to experience and to investigate the spiritual path in Buddhism”


Description: Harvey Schwartz welcomes Dr. Kathleen A. Lyon, who is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. Dr. Lyon has been practicing privately in New York City for almost 30 years. She has taught many courses in the psychoanalytic program at PANY and is currently teaching an advanced theory course on transference. She is also the former chair of the Education Committee and the Admissions Committee. Dr. Lyon has been a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism for over 20 years and has developed a course called Resilience Through Compassion Training which provides a structure for compassion-based practices. 


As you will hear, Dr. Lyon starts from a Buddhist foundation for inner-thinking which allows her to engage patients who otherwise might be disinclined to seek treatment from a psychoanalyst. She also introduces the idea of Spiritual Bypassing, which is an appreciation of how spirituality can be used for defensive purposes. She demonstrates the skill with which she addresses those defenses for the benefit of the patient.


Key takeaways:

[4:09] Dr. Lyon talks about the differentiation between Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness.

[9:54] The Buddhist practice is the practice of meditation.

[10:40] Meditation is divided into two main categories: the concentrative and mindfulness practices.

[13:22] Where does the sense of self reside?

[16:05] The more experience a person has in meditative practice, the greater increase in one’s confidence in their ability to tolerate states that had been perceived as intolerable.

[17:47] The sense of self includes the sense of others and relationships.

[18:50] Dr. Lyon shares the concept of spiritual bypassing.

[22:45] Dr. Lyon presents examples of spiritual bypassing.

[33:04] Dr. Lyon shares how she became interested in spirituality and Buddhist practices.

[35:56] Dr. Lyon runs programs based on compassion based practices and meditation.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch


Recommended Readings:

Spiritual Bypassing in the Contemporary Mindfulness Movement. Carla Sherrell and Judith Simmer-Brown, Naropa University. Initiative for Contemplative Inquiry and Action, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 2017, a special project of Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education.


Psychotherapy Without the Self: A Buddhist Perspective, Mark Epstein, Chapters 1-3.  Yale University Press, 2008


What Makes You Not a Buddhist, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse. Shambhala Publications  2007