The Freud Museum

Events Archive

6 March 2004

Between Knowing and Not-Knowing: Psychoanalytic training and practice

This event was another joint conference between The Freud Museum and Therip (The Higher Education Research and Information Network in Psychoanalysis), part of the Therip lecture series on "Being a British Psychoanalyst". The conference is here reviewd by Sharon Anderson, a student of Occupational Therapy and Counselling.

The conference consisted of two talks in the morning (John Forrester and Janet Sayers); an extended interview in the afternoon (Anne Marie Sandler interviewd by Luis Rodriguez de la Sierra); and a plenary discussion.

Conference Report

John Forrester, Professor of History and Philosophy of Sciences, University of Cambridge.

Reflecting on the 'ideals and prohibitions' in psychoanalytic training, John raised issues around the 'no man's land between ethics and techniques' and provided us with a historical outline of how psychoanalysis developed its practice around the concept of transference. Freud's use of transference and counter transference as a key technique in pyschoanalyis, John argued, could have seen the term 'psychoanalysis' appropriately named 'transference analysis'. Thus the idea arose that poor practice is usually the result of bad technique rather than a lapse in ethics. John suggested that, for Freud and his early contemporaries, sleeping with a patient would be deemed 'bad technique' rather than bad ethics. ie. 'the patient has won'. As transference was one of the key methods of analysis the developing practitioner should be made aware that appropriate training should focus on technique as well as ethics. John described psychoanalysis as a 'high risk occupation' that required 'hard hat' protection. 'Wild analysis' pertaining to Freud's method of working with transference involved personal analysis and supervision., alongside course work and seminars. John warned against the institutionalisation of training and practice in psychotherapy that might follow the models that were closed rather than open. The former being British based the latter French. John referred to Lacan's comments that there was no such thing as a training analyst but a practitioner who becomes an analyst after the appropriate supervision and self analysis. Another issue that John challenged us to consider was an ethical framework that should differ from the biomedical 'paternalistic' system. Psychoanalysis was about real relationships with the 'fire and iron of transference', creating its own particular dialectics. Finally, John warned against the various educational institutional practices that reflected certain elitist value systems and urged that psychoanalytic practise should build its own professional bodies that reflected the spirit of 'knowing and not knowing' based fundamentally on appropriate training and supervision.


Janet Sayers, Professor of psychoanalytic psychology, University Kent. Author of "Divine Therapy: Love, Mysticism and Psychoanalysis"

Drawing on John Freeman's interview of Jung in the BBC television series, Face to Face, the Tavistock Lectures given by Jung in 1935 and Bion's book 'Cogitations', Janet demonstrated that interviewing an analyst about being an analyst revealed a concern with knowing and not-knowing, and with wisdom and oblivion, quite generally.

Janet argued that being an analyst involves the 'intersubjective transformation of not-knowing into knowable words symbols, images and dreams'. During the Tavistock Lectures Jung said that he encouraged his patients actively to imagine themselves into pictures and into their dreams so as to access archetypes which, he maintained, are healing in ''objectifying'' the patient's "observations and experiences" such that the danger of the latter "inundating consciousness is averted and their positive effect is made accessible" Jung also called it "containment" - a term Bion subsequently used in describing the intersubjective transformation, in analysis, of what is formless, unknowable, anti-knowing even, into knowable shape and form. Jung understood the intersubjectivity as more a matter of 'intergenerational inheritance'. Freeman's 'Face to Face' interview with Jung revealed how Jung strongly believed that 'Man cannot stand a meaningless life'. Bion's book 'Cogitations' takes up the theme of being an analyst and argues that being an analyst also entails interpretation that is useful if it illuminates 'the disorder of scattered, familiar, and apparently unrelated elements, and the order, cohesion, and relatedness of these same elements". It is thus, Janet reminds us, an example of what Bion had previously described as containing a selected fact.

Just as Jung had spoken in 1928 of the transforming intersubjectivity of analyst and analysand in analysis, so too did Bion. "In psychoanalyis, when approaching the unconscious - that is what we do not know - we, patient and analyst alike, are certain to be disturbed. In every consulting room, there ought to be rather two frightened people". Bion went on to argue that it depends on the analyst not succumbing to fear that he will 'catch the complaint' of the analysand. Janet ended with Bion's warning against the seductions of not knowing through drugs or self-murder, adding "Wisdom or oblivion - take your choice"

Thanks to Janet who kindly brought in a video of the famous John Freeman's interview with Jung: Face to Face. This was played during the lunch break and we very much appreciated the opportunity to view it.

Interview: Anne-Marie Sandler in extended conversation with Luis Rodriguez de la Sierra

Anne-Marie Sandler is an analyst in private practise and a training analysis in adult, adolescent and child analysis at the BPS. A former Director of the Anna Freud Centre and author of many papers including 'The selection and function of the Training Analyst in Europe'. Her late husband, Joseph Sandler led the quiet revolution which psychoanalyis underwent from the 1970's, reformulating classical psychoanalytic ideas into the language of human relationships. Anne Marie and Joseph are authors of 'Internal Objects Revisited'.

Anne Marie recalled her early uncertainties about what career to pursue and contrasted this with her brother's clear resolve to become a civil engineer. Luis and Anne Marie in a 'face to face' conversation revealed to us a story of a young woman who led an extraordinary life but remained so modest about her own contribution. Anne-Marie recalls how her parents approved of her travelling to England, not to study 'psychology' which was viewed with some suspicion, but because it would be useful to learn English. She was initially helped and encouraged by Michael Balint, who was then working at the Tavistock Clinic. Next we heard anecdotes about Anne Marie's first encounter with Anna Freud, whom she thought might be the housekeeper, since Anna answered the door. Anne Marie felt drawn to Anna because of her 'sensitive presence' and 'luminous eyes' and furthermore found her an excellent teacher, well organised and passionate in her work with children. Anne-Marie also became aware of the schism between the Freudians and the Kleinians. 'Over the road' at the Tavistock was enemy territory and Anne Marie recalls how she used the term 'object relations' to explain a point at one of Anna Freud's meetings and felt she had committed a heretical act. Anne Marie encountered many a stellar figure of the psychoanalytic world including Winnicott and Klein, as well as assisting in research under Piaget. Anne Marie claimed that she was not a theoretician like her husband but instead trusted her intuition and her experience of clinical work. 'You have to be able to be frightened with your patient' Anne Marie explained. 'If I can't via my affect have an intuition of where my patient is, I feel a need to wait or say it'.

Anne Marie states that it is vital to discuss your work as part of your training and how group discussion can be 'enriching'. She also revealed how she remains intensely loyal to Anna Freud but has been inspired by Klein. Finally, Anne-Marie concluded that many so called conflicting theories of psychoanalysis were infact 'speaking the same language'. During the questions from the audience session, John Forrester said that Anne-Marie was similar to her engineer brother in that both were building bridges and tunnels in their respective professions.


I would like to thank The Freud Museum for allowing me to attempt a review of some extremely erudite subjects and speakers.

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