Analysis Gone Wrong

Unorthodox psychoanalytic encounters in the LRB archive by Wynne Godley, Sherry Turkle, Mary-Kay Wilmers, Nicholas Spice, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Jenny Diski, Brigid Brophy, Adam Phillips, D.J. Enright and Michael Neve.  

Saving Masud Khan

Wynne Godley, 22 February 2001

Khan always answered telephone calls during sessions. When Winnicott rang up I could clearly hear both sides of the conversation, so presumably he angled the phone towards me. Winnicott spoke respectfully to Khan, for instance about a paper which he had recently published. ‘I learned a great deal from it,’ Winnicott said deferentially. This particular conversation ended with a giggly joke about homosexual fellatio – the final two words of the conversation – accompanied by loud laughter.

War Zone: In Winnicott’s Hands

Sherry Turkle, 23 November 1989

All his life Donald Winnicott took great pains to present himself as an orthodox Freudian. Yet few ‘Freudians’ have been more radical in their departures from orthodoxy.

Fortress Freud

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 18 April 1985

Psychoanalysts have had good reasons for considering themselves beleaguered, but for the past twenty years at least, the world, being less interested in them, has been less interested than they imagine in finding them out. ‘No decent analyst would let his picture appear in the Times,’ one New York analyst snapped at another, as if he had caught him sneaking his image into the temple of Baal.

I must be mad: Wild Analysis

Nicholas Spice, 8 January 2004

‘What on earth would possess you to do that?’ This, more or less, is the question anyone who hasn’t ever been in analysis asks of those who have. 

How a Fabrication Differs from a Lie

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, 13 April 2000

‘Was Freud a liar?’ Ever since Frank Cioffi had the audacity to ask this question in 1973, it has continued to rock the world of psychoanalysis. Till then, things had been so simple.

I return to the complete mystery of why some people are knocked flat and incapable by what seem like only the mildest of dysfunctional backgrounds, compared to others whose childhoods were devastated by cruelty and deprivation, let alone those who grow up with famine and war, yet seem to find a way to live their lives as if they were their own. And all that space in between the extremes of near harmlessness and full-blown misery: the whole regular family muddle and mess that everyone has to survive, or not.


Brigid Brophy, 15 April 1982

As therapy, psychoanalysis can usefully treat only a comparatively small number of types of disturbance, which need careful diagnosis. As theory, it can probably touch with illumination virtually everything except the specific content of the physical sciences. Freud’s was one of the supremely commanding minds.


Adam Phillips, 6 October 1994

Like the so-called neurotic whose project is to be extremely normal, psychoanalysis has always struggled to distance itself from supposedly discredited things like religion, glamour, mysticism, the paranormal, and all the scapegoated ‘alternative’ therapies. Psychoanalysis, that is to say, has used its discovery of the unconscious to legitimate itself. This would once have been called an irony.

Psychoanalysis did a lot to make sex fashionable, turning Lawrence’s ‘dirty little secret’ into grand opera; and now sex is growing tedious. A strong dose, if not of repression then of reticence, seems to be in order.

Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

‘Paranoia.’ ‘He’s paranoid.’ ‘The student movement took such a paranoid view of Nixon.’ ‘Nixon was a paranoid.’ ‘Don’t be so paranoid.’ ‘You’re so oversensitive, Neve, so paranoid.’

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