FROM THE EDITOR
by: MATTHEW MORRISSEY, MFT
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PSYCHOANALYSIS
That in the eyes of the general public psychoanalytic endeavors are antiquated, impractical, elitist, and just plain mumbo-jumbo is not news to us. Up against the well-funded public relations campaigns of big pharma and their message of biological reductionism, we lose. Cronenberg put us back in the spotlight for a quick second, though more sensational plot lines overshadowed the dynamic meaning of Spielrein's symptoms and her cure.
The deeper issue is the fanatical worship of scientism in our culture. Recent efforts towards empiricization (e.g., anchoring concepts in neurobiology, compiling outcome studies) keep us orthodox but seem to me like more defensive strategies. Can we play a more offensive game on our own turf, and do it without a budget? I think we can, and here's how: we must create ongoing dialogues with the general public about psychoanalytic ideas.
In fact, I would go further and say the ongoing survival of our discipline depends upon our engaging with the general public directly. It's our insularity that's killing us. By "general public," I emphatically do not mean other mental health professionals. I mean the average lay person. What would it really mean to turn San Francisco into a psychoanalytic city? I?m not being flip; I know it would take decades to achieve any formidable impact. But do we have the strength left to imagine it could be so, and the courage to make it happen?
Winnicott talked to the public regularly. Judging from the variety of his audiences, he talked to whomever would listen. My favorite was his lecture to an association of mathematics teachers entitled "Sum, I am." He illustrated his concepts of the false self, the good-enough mother, the unit personality, and the genesis of creativity (among others) through how kids learn math. He did this in a down-to-earth language that must have charmed the audience. Reading between the lines, you can also see how much fun he had thinking up this talk.
We must create something like a psychoanalytic speaker's bureau in order to engage with all different sectors of the public. I think it would not only be good for business in the short run but also ensure the survival of our field. For a great example of how we could proceed, check out NCSPP board member Leslie Carr's recent TEDx talk entitled "Reconsidering Psychotherapy."
Matthew Morrissey, MFT