Doing Well By Doing Good: How Psychoanalysis Changes Our World

Three experiences in recent visits to Ann Arbor and New York are worth
sharing and are on my mind when I think about educational standards,
practice, and research. WHAT CAN WE DO TO FACILITATE RATHER THAN INTERFERE WITH WHAT COLLEAGUES ARE DOING AND DOING SO WELL.

Doing well by doing good………

Allen Creek School, the psychoanalytic pre-school created by members
Kerry and Jack Novick in Ann Arbor might be one of the best examples
of psychoanalysts, doing well, by doing incredibly good,
Pre-schoolers and their parents are provided with a psychoanalytic
pre-school education by a group of committed teachers and child
psychoanalysts that would make any one of you, like me, not only wish
our kids had gone to this school, but wish that we could have!
Seriously, after hearing how one teacher responded to a five year old
having a terribly hard day, I told the teacher that were I to need a
fourth analysis, I would commute to Allen Creek to see her for that
analysis!

And, its worth mentioning an important side effect. Allen Creek,
which has received support from your American Psychoanalytic
Foundation, has also supplied local analysts and candidates with adult
and scarce child patients. I kept thinking during the clinical meeting
how Anna Freud would be incredibly proud of her former students Kerry and Jack. I am proud to know them.

Doing well by doing good……..

This last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit George Jackson
Academy in the east Village, where member Will Braun of the New York
Psychoanalytic Institute, has been consulting the last two years.
Will and I, and Carla Solomon (Carla has ably led the NY Institute
Foundation for years) began speaking about collaborating last spring
because of their interest in my Analytic Service to Adolescents
Program (ASAP) in Chicago. My visit began with a tour of the school
by the incredibly skilled and charismatic principal David Arnold.

Every 4th through 8th grade student I passed in the halls would stop
and introduce themselves, “Hello, I’m Patrick, welcome to George
Jackson Academy.” Each one of these students arrives from at the
school from some of the worst neighborhoods in the city, many having
experienced unspeakable trauma, yet finish 8th grade on their way to
some of the best private and boarding schools in the area and on the
east coast. Will and another analyst work with students, teachers in
any way possible to address emotional difficulties students have in
trying to learn and grow.

In the words of the principal, “Will is kind of my analyst. We can’t
get enough of Will and all he offers me, the students and teachers.”
Three times David expressed to us, “I really can’t believe you
analysts are interested in us. That’s not what we think of when we
think of psychoanalysts.” Flying home yesterday I was thinking about
how many people Will has impacted by his psychoanalytic training and
work beyond his office. 137 students at George Jackson. Think about
that.

Like at Allen Creek, I didn’t want to leave at the end of my visit and
I’m going back next month.

Doing well, by doing good……

On Thursday in New York, I attended an ongoing study group with Mark
Solms. Our group, made up of analysts from NPAP, an independent
institute in New York has been meeting five years, hears case
presentations of a brain injured patients being treated
psychoanalytically. It was this kind of work that brought Mark from
neuropsychology to psychoanalysis 20 years ago, and was part of the
creation of our young field of neuropsychoanalysis. These cases are
also a part of ongoing neuropsychoanalytic treatment and research
project supported by the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation.

The case was of a college honors student severely injured after being
hit by car, paralyzed, and having essentially lost her life. Though
well supported by her family, all were struggling not only with the
physical damage of this poor woman, but the emotional damage to all.
The patient sometimes can barely verbally communicate, yet the analyst
remains incredibly attuned, responsive and the psychoanalytic
treatment moves forward.

Hearing how the analyst began to help all begin to come to terms with
this loss was not only gripping, but was another reminder of how our
education and skills can change the course of peoples’ and families
lives. Again, the family often said to the analyst, and social worker
who referred them, “We didn’t know a psychoanalyst would be interested
in these kinds of things.”

Doing well by doing good…..

And finally, after hearing from many of you of you through emails,
meeting you in various places, and discussing organizational issues,
it becomes even more clear that OUR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS MUST FACILITATE WHAT WE DO AND WHAT WE DO SO WELL. IT CAN NO LONGER INTERFERE.

Currently our standards of education interfere. Prospective
candidates seek training elsewhere. They hear of rigidity in
training, NOT flexibility. They hear of an educational process that
is not “user friendly.” Current members withdraw because they see us
being stuck in old unworkable ways.

WE CAN AND WE MUST CHANGE THIS. THE MAJORITY OF MEMBERS AGREE. THINK OF ALL WE DO, ALL WE NEED TO LEARN AND ACCOMPLISH IN OUR OFFICES, AND IN OUR COMMUNITIES.

Doing well, by doing good…

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