A Power Structure Analysis of Four Psychoanalytic Institutes

Posted by | December 27, 2014 | Uncategorized | No Comments


Jimmy Fisher, a cultural historian and psychoanalyst based in L.A reviews Kirsner’s book, titled “Unfree Associations” and subtitled “Inside Psychoanalytic Institutes. ”  He writes as an insider from L.A. He offers two unique, timely, intriguing pieces. You can read only one on Ip.net. The other you won’t read here because the journal’s publisher insisted that the author, Fisher, pay $186 in order for Fisher to have his article — the article he wrote, the fruits of his thinking and labor — available to readers of Ip.net. Instead, we will give a PEP link to Fisher’s elegant, thoughtful review, which teaches us something about the acrimonious and destructive battles within Apsa today. We can publish Fisher’s interview of Douglas Kirsner, author of Unfree Associations, a painful detailed account of the impasses, the lack of transparency, the difficulties at four psychoanalytic Institutes: Chicago, LA, Boston and New York. We print that in full. The second piece, courtesy of the author.

Honest histories help us see ourselves more clearly, if not kindly, more honestly, if not handsomely. We know this practicing psychoanalysis, a discipline, as Fisher says succinctly, dedicated to radical questioning of subjectivity, demystification of knowledge, clarity of family dynamics and untangling character knots.

Histories of psychoanalysis help us see the tangles within our organization, what gets us into knots, twists our sheets. Or, in a more psychoanalytically true syntax, following Shafer’s action language, I would write, “Histories inform us on how we get ourselves so tangled-up, tied into knots, twist our sheets.” For instance, Kurzweil recounts the different historical courses of analysis in five different nations; Turkle and Roudinesco travel the troubled (and brilliant) paths of French psychoanalysis refracted through the lens of Lacan; Rolnik teaches how Zion and Freud mixed in the once-sparsely populated Palestine; and Arnie Richards has been charting the U.S. ship of psychoanalysis as it has been blown by the winds of Marx and socialism.   Makari takes a different tack by following the three strands of nineteenth century thinking that Freud wove together into his psychoanalysis.  The Australian Kirsner’s book is a careful case-study of four geographic centers of American psychoanalysis in New York, Boston, Chicago and L.A. Published in 2000, he describes Institutes that are undemocratic and troubled, sectarian and paranoid. He assesses theses Institutes as oligarchies (under the guise of alleged meritocracies, but without honest, transparent measures of merit such as what one finds in universities, or businesses, or even symphony orchestras). In the years since, Kirsner diagnosis the fundamental fault to be the Training Analyst system.


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