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Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession Paperback – September 12, 1982


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (September 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394710347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394710341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Janet Malcolm has managed somehow to peer into the reticent, reclusive world of psychoanalysis and to report to us, with remarkable fidelity, what she has seen. When I began reading I thought condescendingly, 'She will get the facts right, and everything else wrong.' She does gets the facts right, but far more impressive, she has been able to capture and convey the claustral atmosphere of the profession. Her book is journalism become art." -- Joseph Adelson, The New York Times Book Review

"Miss Malcolm asks the questions that every patient has ever wanted to ask but knew it was hopeless...More momentous still, Miss Malcolm's questions get answers." -- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"Malcolm provides an elegant, precise summary of the history and development of Freud's ideas...She has drawn a provocative portrait of one physician in Freud's impossible profession." -- Jean Strouse, Newsweek

"Her treatment of the subject is original, rich and will reward anyone interested in the science or business of changing minds." -- E. James Lieberman, The Washington Post Book World

From the Inside Flap

Through an intensive study of "Aaron Green," a Freudian analyst in New York City, New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm reveals the inner workings of psychoanalysis.

Customer Reviews

I enjoyed it, but somehow felt a little disconnected from the subject matter at the end.
malcolm giles
Janet Malcom is at her inquiring best in this account of the inner workings of the New York psychoanalytic establishment in the 1980's.
Phern Hunt
I found this a wonderful primer for what transpires in the rest of the book as well as for further reading and study.
Harold Goodman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Janet Malcolm's book is a great read; very accessible and lucid. The book is couched (sorry for the pun) as an interview with an analyst in New York City who discusses some of the more controversial issues about analysis. In particular, the author explores whether or not analysts should become more "loving and caring" with their patients. Mixed in with the interview are great passages from Freud and other analysts on these topics. If you're like me, you'll bristle at the unbelievable arrogance of some of the anyalysts she speaks with.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harold Goodman on March 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a great gift to anyone interested in the New York psychoanalytic scene in the 1970's.

Janet Malcolm has quite a bit of background when it comes to the world of psychology and Freudian psychoanalysis. She devotes her book to an in-depth, warts and all, tour via the eyes of a young, classical analyst who received his training at and is closely associated with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, the bastion of traditional Freudian analysis in the US.

The initial part of the book details the history of psychoanalysis and its development particularly in the United States. I found this a wonderful primer for what transpires in the rest of the book as well as for further reading and study.

In particular, we learn about the many issues facing the analyst and his subject. Much of this has never been so explicitly revealed as is done in this title. I found it absolutely fascinating.

Ms. Malcolm knows what questions to ask and she does.

The book is filled with her answers.

Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MARK DIMASSIMO on August 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had the good fortune to discover this book a full seven years after I terminated my rather long term psychotherapy which culminated in a classical analysis of at least several years. My analyst shared offices with Dr. Brenner, who features as a central figure in this book, and having read this, I can only interpret my experience with him as thousands of hours of evidence that he was a true and worthy disciple of the cheerful yet austere doctor whom Malcolm refers to as the "intransigent purist."

Joseph Adelson in The New York Times Review of Books goes a bit over the line in paraphrasing: "Dr. Brenner takes the hardest of lines. Psychoanalysis is based upon inducing and interpreting the transference reaction. Anything that interferes with or distracts from it must be eschewed. Strictly. The analyst must maintain the most stringent incognito. Under no circumstances can he make known to the patient his opinions, values, interest or foibles, nor can he offer advice, criticism, reassurance or sympathy. If the analyst is late to a session, he must neither apologize nor explain why. He must attend - and make the patient attend - only to the thoughts, fantasies and feelings produced by his lateness. If the patient's child is gravely ill, the analyst should not express concern or sympathy. His task is limited to evoking and understanding the patient's reactions."

He goes on to say that "this is a grim doctrine." On the contrary, I found it kind and accepting, or at least I found that my analyst was able to practice it that way. Frustrating, of course. But ultimately freeing in a way that a less austere approach might not be, leading to a clarity that might otherwise have been compromised.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Antonia Bercovici on June 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though Janet Malcolm is not a psychoanalyst (she was a very good journalist) she has probably written the best book (for the layman) about what psychoanalysis is about and the experience of psychoanalysis. A shorter version of this book was initially published in the New Yorker and the book is a very good expanded version of that article. AB
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Phern Hunt on February 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Janet Malcom is at her inquiring best in this account of the inner workings of the New York psychoanalytic establishment in the 1980's. Her writing is so engaging that you feel that you are there. As a psychotherapist in San Francisco, formed by the feminist critique of Freud and grounded in Kohut's psychoanalytic self psychology, I found "Aaron Green", the anonymous shrink, phenomenally unable to establish an empathic relationship with his clients, and surprisingly, not that interested in helping them. It seems that orthodox psychoanalysis, as portrayed here, is so involved in proving to themselves that the Oedipus Complex is the eternal tragedy of the human psyche that nothing else can possibly happen in the treatment!
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By Gruye on February 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I went into this book only knowing about Psychoanalysis what Janet Malcolm had told me in her excellent book, "In the Freud Archives," which is to say, not much. This book is extremely dense and had the habit of making me very sleepy, but for the length of my read, I felt like something undefinable was happening, that I was gleaning some type of insight from the book subconsciously, which, if you've read the book, will seem like either incredible coincidence, or literary genius on Malcolm's part. I would imagine a psychology/journalism major would enjoy this book, but not the average layman (Malcolm's journalism is top notch).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a psychiatrist, I found this to be a page turner. It provides a rare look inside the clannish, often contradictory world of psychoanalytic training and treatment. Analysis is a highly obtuse and boutique type of treatment that has largely been supplanted by evidenced-based and biological treatments. That being said, it provides the foundation for our current understanding of psychiatry as a way to think about mental health. For those in the mental health world, I highly recommend it. Laypersons may need to consult a secondary source for some of the terms and concepts, but is illuminating nonetheless.
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