CANDIDATE'S BLOG: LOUIS ROUSSEL, PH.D.
The term "blog" refers to a web-based journal wherein individuals offer up their personal experiences to anyone with a web browser. The New York Times recently estimated that more than 10 million blogs now populate the Internet. Ever interested in the latest technologies for communication, the editors at IMPULSE thus sought out a local analytic candidate willing to share his or her experience in training. Our intrepid volunteer is Dr. Louis Roussel, Ph.D., a 4th year candidate at SFPI who maintains a private practice in Oakland. Following is his first entry.
2006 Jan: As psychoanalytic candidates, we must contend with intense passions and other disturbances of affect that are a natural concomitant of the work of analysis. The intensity of involvement with patients in analysis is often a novel experience for the beginning candidate accustomed to working with psychotherapy patients who most often present less than three times per week. The disturbance of practicing psychoanalysis for the first time leads many of us to rush to theory in a frenetic search for shelter from these new turbulent waters. Theoretical seminars, while vital for the training of a candidate, can be utilized in a way that alienates us from the rawness of emotional experiences in analysis. We are vulnerable to making use of our theories as defensive structures that protect us from the unpredictability and potential pain of our interpersonal encounters in analysis. This defensive stance minimizes the candidate's anxiety but leads to a reification of the patient, that is to say, it treats the patient as an abstract object to be influenced without having the license to influence the analyst as a real person. One of the most important things I learned as a candidate is that the analyst by definition is a disturbance, and as such, s/he must develop the capacity to fully experience the disturbance of analysis.
I found the psychoanalytic writing seminar taught to candidates at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute to be an excellent antidote to the defensive use of theory by beginning candidates. Dr. Susan Kolodny presented a writing exercise whereby candidates were required to write about vignettes from their analytic work without using any psychoanalytic or theoretical terms. I found this practice to be an invaluable part of my training as an analytic candidate in that it enabled me to reconnect with the more disturbing and emotionally jarring aspects of my work that I had unconsciously defended myself against. In future blogs, I would like to provide illustrations of this style of writing with case vignettes from my own work as an analytic candidate.
Louis Roussel, Ph.D.