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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

May 31, 2020

After I had been practicing analysis for 50 years, I asked myself: What was the most important thing I learned in those 50 years? It took me a lot of time to learn the obvious: the patient is somebody else.


Description: Dr. Harvey Schwartz welcomes Dr. Warren Poland, who is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Washington DC. Dr. Poland is a former editor of the JAPA Review of Books and he has been on the Board of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly for over 40 years. Dr. Poland was awarded the Sigourney Prize in 2009 and the JAPA Journal Prize in 2002. In addition to many articles, Dr. Poland has written two books, Melting the Darkness: The Dyad and Principles of Clinical Practice and his most recent work: Intimacy and Separateness in Psychoanalysis.


During this episode, Dr. Poland shares what it means to him to be vulnerable in this time as well as his sense of responsibility to others. He describes how the centrality of the recognition of the other gives rise to the recognition of aspects of responsiveness and separateness between people. His goal is to appreciate the patient as an other as well as for the patient to recognize his separateness.


Key takeaways:

[7:02] Dr. Poland shares his perspective with regard to the current crisis.

[9:33] Life can be terrifying for our species; all we can do is hope and work for the future.

[10:45] The future needs us.

[10:58] Dr. Poland talks about his analytic journey.

[12:58] What is like to be somebody else?

[16:33] ´There is a real person in there´.

[17:50] Dr. Poland talks about the obstacles that prevent truly engaging with a patient.

[18:40] Psychoanalysis is the discipline that studies the matters that the patient does not want to confront.

[20:30] The patient reads the analyst even better than the analyst does.

[21:50] Nobody lives outside the fabric of the human interchange.

[23:55] Dr. Poland shares a moment that describes his sensitive eye for people’s self-aggrandizing tendencies.

[27:07] Dr. Poland talks about how he deals with his patients that are struggling with financial situations.

[28:25] It is important that a patient is able to fire a doctor.

[30:35] If you want your patients to come back, tell them something they could use, and then they will want to come back for more.

[32:55] Dr. Poland dives deep into the fullness of conversation.

[35:46] What is human and humane is regard for the other.

[36:44] Dr. Poland talks about the intimacy about what is true without the fear of showing vulnerability.

[39:56] The core of conversation and vulnerability is the realization of reciprocity.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch


Recommended Readings:

Melting the Darkness: The Dyad and Principles of Clinical Practice, Dr. Warren Poland

Intimacy and Separateness in Psychoanalysis, Dr. Warren Poland