John Dorsey, Solipsism and Psychoanalysis
by Marvin Hyman, Ph.D.
I first encountered my John Dorsey at a presentation he gave in the mid-1950's, some years before I joined the department of which he was the chair. He spoke in a manner that was totally unfamiliar to me, at that time, prefacing many of his nouns and terms with the word "my". I found the practice idiosyncratic in the extreme, but also evoking of substantial anxiety that required me to find his presentation ridiculous and even laughable. Needless to say, I did not hear much of the substance of his presentation since I was, at that time, so preoccupied with the form of it. It was not until I joined the faculty of which Dorsey was the chair that I was able to come into continuing contact with his philosophy and his convictions about psychoanalysis and its relation to what he called "living consciously". At the same time, I was expanding my understanding of the psychoanalytic method and was, therefore, in a better position to hear his statements of his beliefs and to assess their validity. I would like today to share some of that experience with you by telling you about Dorsey, summarizing my understanding of his philosophical position and its derivation, applying that summary to the psychoanalytic situation and the psychoanalytic enterprise as I view them, and, finally, relate psychoanalysis to current ideas in today's intellectual and clinical world.
I will begin with a brief biography. John Morris Dorsey was bom in Clinton, Iowa in 1900. His undergraduate and medical education took place at the University of Iowa from which he graduated with his M.D. in 1925. He obtained his psychiatric training at the Iowa State Psychopathic Hospital which was integrated with the College of Medicine and University Hospital of the University of Iowa. In 1928, Dorsey joined the staff and faculty at the University of Michigan State Psychopathic Hospital as first assistant to the Director and Assistant Professor. Dorsey's first book was published in 1935, The Foundations of Human Nature, in which year he was also promoted to Associate Professor. 1935 also marked the beginning of a two year sabbatical in Europe, the major portion of which was spent in Vienna as a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation. I will mention later Dorsey's description of his experiences at the University of Vienna Neurological and Psychiatric Clinics, and discuss more particularly those at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute.
Following the completion of his sabbatical, Dorsey returned to the University of Michigan where he remained until 1940. In that year, he accepted the position of Chief of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and an appointment to the Department of Psychiatry of what ultimately became the Wayne State University School of Medicine. In 1946, Dorsey became the Chair of that Department and continued as such until 1960. From 1960 to 1970, he occupied the position of University Professor, in which unique capacity he taught, lectured, and served all of the departments, schools and colleges of the University. At age 70, he was retired to emeritus status, but continued to work and publish until his death in 1978.
In 1976, Dorsey published an account of his years in Vienna which he called "An American Psychiatrist in Vienna, 1935-1937, and his Sigmund Freud". From that account, which is both a journal listing his activities and the people he met and reports of the reactions he had to his experiences, we learn that he was in analysis with Freud from October, 1935 to November, 1936 which work had to end because of financial exigencies. However, Dorsey was able to continue analysis with Heinz Hartmann, (at a lower fee) from November, 1936 to the end of his stay in Europe, which he left in early June, 1937.
In addition to being an analysand, Dorsey took courses at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. (The list of his teachers reads likes a who's who of 1930's Viennese psychoanalysts.) I will not include here the reports of work done and classes and lectures attended in the psychiatric centers of Vienna and Burgholzli, since they are seemingly not related to the psychoanalytic experiences which seemed to form Dorsey's thinking.
Psychoanalysis was an important part of Dorsey's professional life throughout his career. In the 1920's he practiced and studied the free association method with a colleague as a way of learning more about his psychic life. In the 1930's, he had the above sabbatical in Vienna and became an active member of the psychoanalytic community in Detroit and Michigan. Although, initially, he intended his studies and personal psychoanalysis to be an adjunct to his academic activities, he decided in Vienna that he would complete the requirements necessary for practicing as a psychoanalyst. Accordingly, when he returned from Vienna he continued his psychoanalysis with Dr. Clara Happel and conducted psychoanalyses under the supervision of Drs. Franz Alexander and Richard Sterba. Dorsey was active in the formation of the Detroit Psychoanalytic Society and, after the Detroit psychoanalytic community split into three organizations, he was the only psychoanalyst in the area who was a member of all three societies
During Dorsey's tenure as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Wayne and, simultaneously, as Head of Psychiatry at Detroit Receiving Hospital (the major teaching hospital for Wayne), psychoanalysis was the primary theoretical orientation of the teaching training, and service programs. 15 percent of each class at the medical school chose to specialize in psychiatry, in contrast to the 5 percent at other medical schools and at Wayne after he left the department. Until recently, the majority of the psychoanalysts in Detroit and Southeast Nfichigan who were medically trained were from his programs.
Dorsey's Psychoanalysis and Dorsey's Solipsism
I would like to presume that I can describe Dorsey's theoretical position by indulging in the fiction that I am describing the mind of another than my own. For Dorsey, psychoanalysis as theory and as procedure rested fundamentally on free association. Only through this methodology could one come to know one's unconscious and the contents thereof. That which is repressed and, therefore, inaccessible to consciousness, can be discovered only through the work of free association in collaboration, if necessary, with a psychoanalytic observer and commentator. Through the method of free association, the unconscious becomes conscious and one is enabled, thereby to "live oneself consciously", an objective to be continuously and vigorously pursued.
Dorsey argued that repression fragmented the mind, with the repressed unconscious becoming the repository of rejected, denied, split off aspects of oneself. Repression detaches the individual from that of oneself which is negative and needing to be disowned. Thus are illness, neurosis, unhappiness, and all other "negative experiences" made a part of the "not self', the existence of which makes impossible the experience of "allness" or "wholeness". Illness can be replaced by allness if one lives oneself consciously and with appreciation of all of one's attributes. Dorsey believed, for example, that there were innumerable instances when a cancer patient was spontaneously "cured", i.e., the tumor or lesion disappeared, and that this was the product of the patient's "loving" the cancer out of existence. For Dorsey the so-called "mind-body problem" was easily resolved: Everything is mind!
Along with his conviction about free association, Dorsey concluded that one could live consciously only in relation to oneself. He speaks to that conclusion as follows: "Although I grew many a precious insight in my self analysis I know of no other one that has been more seminal for my growing wonderful realization for my inviolable integrity than this one revealing to my objectivity-oriented mind the truth of its total subjectivity." Dorsey abandoned naive realism as an epistemological position since it contradicted empirically the data of the psychoanalytic experience. For the same reason, Freud abandoned seduction as the hypothesized etiological agency for hysteria; it could not be proven that the "reminiscences" from which hysterics "suffered" were veridical memories as contrasted to fantasies, and, furthermore, it was not necessary to do so. For Freud and Dorsey, psychic reality is the field upon which Psychical processes are played out. We might note that Freud, in introducing the concept of psychic reality, presaged the postmortem impulse, as Barratt called it. Dorsey, however, unlike Freud, adopted the position that there is only psychic reality, and that all else is a delusion. In reviewing years later an entry in the log that he kept during his analysis with Freud, he says, "My thoughts recorded here reveal that I have not yet renounced my concept named "external reality" as being somehow accessible to me, and I to it, otherwise than as being my concept. I cannot yet assume full responsibility for being all of my world that I create. I cannot yet firmly found my belief in the existence of all that is not I (all of my so-called externality) in my faith that it exists."
With the acceptance of psychic reality as the only reality, Dorsey addressed the idea of communication as it relates to total subjectivity: "It is understandable that the delusion of communication continues unrenounced when I realize how very strong the wish is to be able to get at, or be gotten at by, another. For example, the mother who cannot recognize the absolute individuality of the child she "mothers" cannot recognize either that all of her meaning for her child is entirely about her own life, or that the child she calls her own has an absolute individuality all his (her) own in which he (she) creates all of his (her) meaning named 'Mother'."
In the quotations from Dorsey's writings above, there is, in addition to the ideas conveyed, an illustration of the way in which he uses language. He argues that language, like everything else, is subjective: "...all so-called'communication' is illusional; that I can neither tell anything to another nor be told anything by another. However, I seem to be sending forth my feelers in the direction of discovering that all language is idiolect, all talk is soliloquy, all writing is autobiographical."
A Solipsistic Position
I am going to indulge myself in the delusion that the part of my mind called my audience will find my arguments somewhat more coherent if I forego speaking idiolectically and risk the illusion that I am speaking "objectively".
My argument begins with a distinction offered by Jay Eacker (1975). He contrasts two metaphysical positions: realism and phenomenalism (by which latter term he explicitly does not mean phenomenology). According to Eacker, realism is "the view that a real, objective world exists with real objects and phenomena in it, and it would continue to exist whether there were anyone around to observe it or not, that is, it exists independently of any observer". In contrast, " the metaphysical position referred to as phenomenalism is that what exists is whatever it is that occurs when the senses experience, that is, sense experience". Eacker argues further that the realist takes the data of his observations, that is, the data of his sense experience and then "goes beyond the data" to a realm of objects or behavioral events which, if known, could be known at all only through sense experience. The phenomenalist would tend to stop at the point of observation and limit knowledge to sense experience.
If, then, all we can know is the contents of our sensorium, then we have to recognize that those contents cannot, and ought not, be assumed to be sensations of real, objective phenomena. The contents of one's sensorium could be "hallucinations"; they could be the product of need-detemined sensory experiences; they could be dreams, of either the day or night variety. And whatever they are, they cannot be proven to be anything other than sense experiences because we cannot go beyond those experiences. In this argument, then, I am a product of your senses, and, however you perceive me, I am a figment of your perception. As I speak, there is no way I can "prove" that what I say is what you hear because what is in your sensorium cannot be assumed to be in mine. Further, since what you hear or otherwise sense, is entirely subjective, it is determined by you alone and is, thereby, a product of your psychic needs, psychodynamics, and covert personal agendas. It is your psychic reality. Sometimes, that psychic reality consists of the conclusion that what one is sensing and/or perceiving is a real world that exists objectively and outside of oneself. As a phenomenalist or solipsist, one lives in a world that has two fantasies: the fantasy called fantasy and the fantasy called reality, the latter sometimes containing the delusional conviction that reality is not a fantasy.
I find the solipsistic position extraordinarily liberating and empowering. If I make my own world, then I am able to change it if aspects of it displease me and I don't want to be displeased. If my other is heard to utter troublesome words or statements, it is not what they said that is troubling; it is what I heard --- and I can do something about what I hear, regardless of whether or not I feel I can do something about what is said. In the same vein, with the realization that only I hear what I say, I am not required to use my words to impose upon my you my beliefs, convictions, philosophy, or other of my truths. To be sure, I have to recognize that my consciousness that the world is my subjectivity could lead to the experience of myself as passively impotent in a world that is only a figment of my fantasy and, therefore, can be altered only in my mind. But then again, it could lead to the experience of my being able omnipotently to change that world and to the experience of doing so. It is my choice alone to believe, at the end of this evening, that I have persuaded my you, collectively and individually, to my position. Since only I have the power to inflict upon myself negative experiences such as frustration, unhappiness, sadness, loss, chagrin, fear, and so on, then I have the power to change those experiences. If my experience is that I cannot effect such change, then that is something that I have to analyze rather than accept as a given.
The Solipsistic Position in Psychoanalyzing
In practicing psychoanalyzing, we endeavor to ascertain the psychic purposes for the discontinuities which are presented by the analysand. To such discontinuities we often give names, sometimes descriptive, sometimes pejorative: Dreams, slips of the tongue, memory, or pen, parapraxes, or symptoms, hallucinations, syndromes, obsessions, phobias, and endlessly on. Free association is also a discontinuity, since the associator is not aware of the motive for a thought coming to mind or an action taking place. In all instances, discontinuities are manifestations in which conscious intentions are not experienced as congruent with consciously desired and expected outcomes, effects, or consequences. Notwithstanding an individual's experience that a discontinuity is incomprehensible and that it is, therefore, the product of unknown and uncontrollable forces working in the individual's life, we take it as a psychoanalytic given that the discontinuity is purposeful, motivated, and serving some psychic payoff. We conclude, therefore, that the motivation is unconscious and can be accessed only through the method of free association.
Free association is as much characterized by what it is not as by what it is. When an analysand presents him or herself in a consulting room, it is justifiable to assume that there is an unconscious intention to inform about the unconscious processes that the analysand has chosen to address at that moment. In keeping with that intention, every aspect of the analysand's presentation will be chosen, albeit unconsciously, for the purpose of communicating about the nature and content of the chosen unconscious material. Thus, everything is a free association regardless of the form of the presentation, i.e., verbal or motor. Viewed this way, free association is not conversation or some other form of social discourse since the listener is always "translating" the manifest free association into some formulation of latent psychic meaning. (Besides, what kind of conversation takes place with one participant lying on a couch and the other sitting behind that couch.)
I am sure that nothing in what I have just offered is new to you. I reviewed it for the purpose of indicating that the use of free association requires that one adopt a solipsistic position in order to be able to make use of the method. As one listens to association (one's own or a perceived other's), there is nothing in one's consciousness than that which one is hearing. One does not assume that what the analyst is hearing is what the analysand is saying, because it is not. The analysand is "saying" in the language of consciousness and the analyst is hearing in the language of the unconscious. It does not have to be decided that the unconscious in question is the analysand's since that can never be proven or disproven. Further, as the analyst listens, the only meaning which can be given to what the analyst hears is the meaning of the analyst's intention to hear only the unconscious message which is being communicated.
For the individual in psychoanalysis, it can be said that the discontinuities that are presented are each specific manifestations of a general dynamic process which is ongoing at the moment. Indeed, one motive for the appearance of the discontinuity is the intention of the analysand to move the dynamic process, of which the discontinuity is a specific expression, into the attention of the analysis. Therefore, the analysis always focuses on the formulation of the dynamic rather than on the motive for the discontinuity alone. Thus, if an analysand reports having had an accident, it is totally irrelevant to the analysis if that is so. The only thing of importance is the report as a thought that came to mind as contrasted with the report as a description of a "real" event. The conclusion I wish to present is that in analytic listening there can be no reality; only thoughts that come to mind in order for the analysand to communicate from and about the unconscious. And, in psychoanalytic formulating of dynamics, there can be no assumption of the truth of the formulation or even its existence in the unconscious mind of the analysand. The formulation is a product of the analyst's mind and is offered only as such to the analysand. It is my fantasy that the formulation I offer to the analysand opens a window in the repression barrier so that the repressed prototypical conflict and its component elements can be reexamined unconsciously in the light of the knowledge that was later acquired by the analysand. In this way, the conflictual elements are able to be decathected and derivatives no longer have to find expression in discontinuous manifestations of everyday life.
A related part of the analytic listening process concerns the context in which the listening takes place. The analyst is neutral, abstinent, and anonymous in the situation. This stance is adopted to facilitate the analyst's and analysand's focusing only on the thoughts that are coming to mind in contrast to focusing on the perceived other as a person or an existing entity. (In this respect, one can understand the story told about Dorsey that he would have his analysands sit behind him rather than the more customary other way around.) Similarly, references to things external to the analytic situation that come to mind can only be treated as just that. Needless to say, third party payers and other such thoughts that come to mind are only associations, and cannot be viewed in any other way without negating the essence of the analytic process.
Psychoanalysis deals only with psychic reality! Even if one does not subscribe to the proposition that there is only psychic reality (as Dorsey did), then one must recognize that the proposition must hold within the psychoanalytic situation in order for it to be psychoanalytic. Indeed, I would consider that requirement to be a defining characteristic of that which is psychoanalytic practice.
Solipsism and Psychoanalytic Ego Psychology
Once in a while, a colleague of mine in Detroit and I debate when psychoanalysis stopped making worthwhile discoveries. He argues for 1914; I argue for 1915. Sometimes, I think he is right, because I am not sure if I want to include Freud's paper on Mourning and Melancholia as a worthwhile discovery. My reason is that it is about that time that Freud and psychoanalysis began to turn away from the study of intrapsychic conflict and conflict resolution as these were the products of living in a world of psychic reality. Until that time, for example, the other, i.e., the object, was only a component element of the instinctual drive, serving psychically as the focus of the aim of the drive.
In Mouming and Melancholia, Freud offers a formulation for melancholia thusly: "The shadow of the object falls upon the ego". This is one of the points at which externality begins to become an integral part of the psychoanalytic perspective. From that point, psychoanalysis goes on through the Ego and the Id to a culmination in Hartmann's Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation. This radical shift in the orientation of the psychoanalytic enterprise now defines it as a "two-person" psychology dedicated to the study of the psychology of human development and human function from a relational point of view. The focus of psychoanalytic understanding becomes the efficacy of the several ego functions and the means whereby deficiencies in those functions can be corrected. By way of illustration, analysis of transference becomes the correction of "distortions of reality" in the perceptions of the analyst as something other than he or she really is. Perceptions and other psychological functions and part processes are not understood as necessary expressions of psychic motives; they are categorized according to their accuracy as this is judged by the now judgmental analyst. Psychoanalysis has shifted from trying to understand how one gets along with oneself to how one gets along with the environment and others in it. Unconscious mental function becomes a secondary consideration in psychoanalytic theory and practice if it is considered at all.
As the importance of unconscious processes and contents diminish in importance in the study of psychoanalysis, so too does the solipsistic nature of the enterprise. Indeed, the solipsist is seen as suffering from a relatively severe breakdown in reality testing, because, as the ego psychologist tells us, everyone knows that there is an objective reality out there beyond our senses and we have to adapt to it, not deny it. As a case in point, the last time I heard a presentation of Dorsey's point of view by one of his students, the discussion of the presentation jumped immediately to an ad hominem consideration of whether Dorsey was psychotic, borderline, or just plain narcissistic. The merit of his position was never addressed.
On the Current Status of Psychoanalysis
As the essentially solipsistic nature of psychoanalysis has diminished, some interesting, ironic, and ultimately sad consequences have ensued. I would like to elaborate on some of them and, hopefully, engage you in a contemplation of the future of psycho-analysis.
Psychoanalysis today is not seen as the separate, independent profession, science, and/or art that it is. At various times in its history, the so-called psychoanalytic movement was ridiculed by organized psychology and psychiatry in this and other countries. Nonetheless it prospered because no other discipline enabled the kind of access to the human mind and psyche that psychoanalysis did. Unfortunately, the success that psychoanalysis had as a psychiatric treatment for neuroses and psychoses ultimately made it a captive of that profession. This was because no one, including Freud, then or now, was or is willing to consider the idea that those so-called "psychiatric diseases" are nothing of the sort. They are the means by which individuals reconcile the unconscious agendas of their lives with the conscious ones. That psychoanalysis was able to "cure" neurosis did not prove that it was a valuable psychiatric treatment; it proved that neurosis was not a pathology at all. It was the product of psychodynamic Operations no different than all the other psychodynamic manifestations of every day life. It was, as Dorsey saw, the attempt by the person to take care of him or herself. If Freud had not been a physician, I doubt that psychoanalysis would be confronting some of the difficulties that it currently does. It was just because Freud was a physician that psychoanalysis was adopted by psychiatrists as a medical procedure. It became, as Freud feared, a "handmaiden" of American psychiatry.
In a parallel process, American psychology adopted psychoanalysis because it seemed akin to the introspective methodologies utilized by Wundt and Titchener in their studies of human consciousness. When American psychology became more scientistic as a consequence of Behaviorism, the discipline became less enamored of psychoanalysis because, although it dealt with mind, it did so as an art, not as a science in the model of science that psychology was espousing. Nevertheless, for reasons of power and politics (large numbers of American clinical psychologists were attached to psychoanalytic principles and methods in their everyday work), psychology claimed psychoanalysis as one of its specialties.
Psychoanalysis is today claimed to be a specialty of psychiatry, psychology, and, to leave out no political entity, social work and nursing as well. Presto! psychoanalysis is now designated a health care profession by association. And as a health care profession it is subject to all the constraints imposed upon such professions, the least of which are the practices of managed care. Psychoanalysis is a bad joke in the eyes of the health care industry, primarily because it cannot be treated, and does not treat itself, as a craft. Craftspersons are technicians who apply mechanically specific procedures to the tasks they are assigned. The health care industry sees physicians and psychologists as craftspersons, and treats and pays them accordingly by overseeing each activity and paying by procedure.
Yet, as I said, managed care practices are the least of the indignities to which psychoanalysis will be subject if it is successful in its efforts to be accepted as a health care profession. The health care professions themselves and our government are all busy promulgating practice guidelines, developing empirically validated treatments for specifically designated disorders, including every sort of human condition in the list of mental disorders, e.g., being female, devising ethical codes requiring confidentiality to be violated, associations to be reported, fantasies to be treated as fact, third parties to intrude into the analytic situation, etc. Further, non-conformity to these measures our colleagues are developing and putting into professional life is primafacie evidence of malpractice, and we all know the import of that status, whether or not we are practitioners. I conclude therefore, that those who argue that psychoanalysis is a health care profession and should be accepted as such by the health care industry are wrong. There is no future in it other than the destruction of psychoanalysis.
Health care as a practice is explicitly naively realistic. A practitioner brings to a patient the practitioner's diagnostic and therapeutic skills which are applied to the patient for the benefit of that patient. The practitioner is required to experience the patient as an entity without, an externality totally separate from the physician. However apparent it may be to the solipsist that the practitioner's and the patient's experience of the each other as an externality is a delusion on their parts, they will nonetheless expect themselves and be expected by others to act within that delusion.
If my arguments above have merit, then psychoanalysis has to be defined by its solipsism. In psychoanalysis, all of the intrusions of "reality" that are characteristic of health care practice have to be actively and carefully kept out of the enterprise since they are inherently antithetical to it. Associations have to be viewed only as thoughts that have come to mind, even if they are thoughts about murder of another, child abuse, or suicide. There can be no duties to guard, warn, or report, since nothing in the analysis relates to reality. The analyst can take no action to intervene in the analysand's life since the analysand is only a figment of the analyst's perception.
This is the stuff that drives managers in the health care industry mad. It forecloses the possibility that psychoanalysis can or should be a part of health care, even if one does not want to believe that the term "mental health" is merely the reification of a metaphor. If psychoanalysts persist in pursuing identification as health care professionals, and they continue to practice psychoanalysis as the solipsistic enterprise that it is, then they are sure prospects for malpractice suits, jail, or other such punishments that society inflicts on non-conformists. An illustration: In 1960, Dorsey left his position as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry to become the University Professor. In his new position, he was totally without any administrative responsibility. To many of us in his department, his removal reflected the University's attitude toward his solipsistic administration and management of the department and the program. For example, the solipsist deals with matters like budget by not having one. Thus, the Department of Psychiatry during his tenure was funded for one secretary, Dorsey's salary was provided by a foundation which admired him and his work, and other faculty members were paid by other organizations in the university community. Naive realists find solipsists infuriating, and they act accordingly.
The Psychoanalytic Alternative
Psychoanalysis has long sought a home in the hospital, the clinic, the university counseling center, and other medical and quasi-medical establishments. It is now no longer welcome in those facilities. The happy consequence is that psychoanalysis has an opportunity that was never before available to redefine itself, its theory and its practice. I would like to propose that now is the time for psychoanalysis to move to the academy and join those intellectual disciplines that we think of as the arts, the humanities, the sciences, and the philosophies. In doing so, we move away from biology and medicine as technical methodologies and we forego the several rigidities of education, qualification, and association that characterize those methodologies.
As solipsists, we can, in today's postmodern tradition, view psychoanalysis as no longer in need of finding the single truth of the human psychic condition and transmitting that truth in unmodified form. Instead, psychoanalysis can become the repository of as many truths as there are students, scholars, and practitioners in the movement. The study and experience of psychoanalysis can become as exciting and stimulating as it was in the twenties and thirties.
Rather than continuing the current practice of preserving psychoanalysis as a medical, psychological, or social work activity, we should be doing whatever is required to establish psychoanalysis as a separate and independent profession. As such, it could give up the fiction that psychoanalytic practitioners go to work every day to stamp out mental disease. Instead, we could develop the image of psychoanalysis as a way to study and understand an individual's experience of the psychic factors affecting his or her life, and doing so without labeling the individual as sick, disordered, or crazy.
As we recognize that the psychoanalysis in which each of us engages as student, analyst, analysand, scholar, teacher, or otherwise, is a product of our own psychic reality, then we might find the opportunity for civil intellectual discourse much more available and tolerance for alternative points of view more accessible. Indeed, we might even give up the attitude which is so treasured by psychoanalysts: " If you disagree with me, it is because you hate me --- and I am going off to form my own institute".
Similarly, we could each of us take our place in the intellectual world that abuts psychoanalytic thinking. Not only do analytic scholars have something to say relevant to music, theater, movies, politics, history, philosophy, etc., but scholars in those disciplines could teach us much about psychoanalysis. For example, Szasz, Barratt, and others have argued that psychoanalysis is a semiotic exercise. Do we not have a lot to learn, then, from linguists, semanticists, and other students of communication? Can not scholars of Greek myths inform us about that peculiarly psychoanalytic myth called the Oedipus Complex? Can we give up our delusion that only graduates of psychoanalytic institutes have something relevant to say about psychoanalysis? I would like to argue that the answers to questions such as these has to be a forceful yes! and that we set about implementing that answer without delay.
The reason for haste is apparent. If psychoanalysis is to become an independent profession, then it will have to build up a body of evidence that supports that assertion. If one wants to psychoanalyze, then it will take considerable effort to be free of licensing boards, accrediting agencies, malpractice considerations, professional regulatory agencies, and other institutions that include whatever they can within their jurisdiction and do whatever is necessary to preserve what is decreed as their turf. We will have to show that what we do, how we think, the way we educate, the persons and organization with which we associate all demonstrate that we are not part of any jurisdiction.
Finally, I would like to present the notion that, from a solipsistic point of view, the traditional methods of psychoanalytic education are as anti-psychoanalytic as they can be. Institutes exist for the well being of the institute and the needs of the students in it are secondary to that purpose. Freud's self-analysis was not just a matter of necessity; it also was a model of what an analysis should be: an exercise in self understanding and self de-velopment. I think it should be the responsibility of every individual who wishes to know and practice psychoanalysis to devise and implement the means to do so. I think that the responsibility cannot and should not be assigned to a teacher, a supervisor, an analyst, an institute. In support, each of us in the psychoanalytic community should welcome those whose psychoanalytic training is dedicated, substantial, and committed, regardless of the particular form that it might have taken.
I hope that my presentation of my John Dorsey, my solipsism, and my Psychoanalysis has been comprehensible and persuasive. But then, it will be whatever I need to it be and can be nothing else.
Abbreviated Curriculum Vita
Classes, Seminars, Tutorials and Supervision with several senior analysts, notably Siegfried Bernfeld and Richard Sterba. Personal analysis. Education self-directed.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan (Retired 31, December 1998).
Former President, International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education.
Former President, Division of Psychoanalysis, American Psychological Association
Former President, Psychologist-Psychoanalyst Practitioners
Former President, Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology
Former President, Michigan Psychological Association
Current Professional Activities
Private Practice of Psychoanalysis, West Bloomfield, Michigan (Retired 31 December 1998)
Faculty, Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology
Co-Author (with B.F. Auld): Resolution of Inner Conflict: An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Therapy