January in New York City. The cold glitter of snow. The hot fever of analytic minds. Should psychoanalysis be quantified with research and/or neuropsych? What about importing psychoanalysis to the larger world? How to spend the hours: in a session on narcissism, masochism, erotic transference, termination, ethics, or boundary violations? Is the new film The Treatment a fabulously funny mockery or oddly realistic on an abstract level? Where is tonight's party? And what should I bring you, the reader, from this meeting?

A fellow attendee recommended writing about something emotional. I realized how much tenderness, awe, anxiety, hope, and bittersweetness I felt listening to each analyst's clinical presentation and began to think of the analyst as artisan. So many endless hours of mentalizing, containing, processing, feeling, receiving supervision, discussing with colleagues, and writing process notes and papers! The analyst had born so much and for so long. 

Like an artisan, the analyst is a craftsperson who engages in personal handiwork. As an artisan, the analyst slowly, carefully and single-mindedly is devoted to understanding and witnessing one unique patient at a time. There is no rush and there is no template, no cookie cutter or mold ... only a vision that arises from the dust, after much time, imagining the patient. And this is the beauty of "the work" in a world where much is mass-produced and there isn't any time. But somewhere in these rooms there is time. The analyst/artisan toils away, lost in a labor of love.

Cleopatra Victoria, MFT