Reflections

Dr. Harold Blum Full Interview

INTERVIEW WITH DR. HAROLD BLUM

INTERVIEWER:         Marcia Meldrum

DATE:                         September 10, 2012

 

MM:     Good morning, Dr. Blum.

HB:      Good morning.

MM:     Well, we’re very happy to be here in your lovely home this morning and if you could just me. to start out with, a little bit about your own background – where you went to school and why you made the decision to get into this field.

HB:      Well, I went to Cornell University and then to the Boston University School of Medicine.  While I was in medical school, I became aware of the fact that psychological disturbances were a major contribution to many forms of illness and that even serious forms of illness had consequences of concomitant psychological disturbance.  And that’s how I began to become more and more interested in psychiatry and ultimately in psychoanalysis.

MM:     And why psychoanalysis in particular?  What year did you graduate from medical school?

HB:      1953.

MM:     Was psychoanalysis sort of the wave of the future at that time?

HB:      It was indeed.  Some of the best teachers I had in psychiatry were psychoanalysts and it became clear to me that they were the most original and the most far reaching teachers that I had.  They offered the greatest insights and opportunities to understand the human personality and what was bothering so many of our patients.

MM:     Can you give me a sort of idea of what kind of patients we’re talking about?  Were they very, very disturbed, violent, or somewhat neurotic?

HB:      They varied tremendously and, of course, it gave me an appreciation for the unique individuality of everyone.  But they varied, for example, from people with the so-called reactive depression – some of them had a heart attack and then became depressed as a consequence of the heart attack – all the way to people who were depressed because they were what we now call bipolar.  They had episodes of depression sometimes alternating with episodes of manic behavior.

MM:     OK.  Talk to me a little bit about how you sort of learned your trade.

HB:      Well, in the earliest phase, during the time I was in medical school, in internship and then in the Navy, I began to become more and more interested in what makes people tick.  What are the underlying foundations, not only of their personality, but of their general interests, as well as their psychopathology?   Were they terribly obsessive, were they hysterical, were they depressed, were they very anxious?  And why was this the case?  I became interested in two aspects.  One is, I was very much aware of the fact that there was always what Freud called the constitutional predisposition – what we would today say is a part of the genetic endowment, or at least it’s there in terms of a predisposition – and [secondly], as well, the early environment – the parenting, the nature of their childhood and the importance of their pre-adult years to the shaping of their adult personality.

MM:     OK.  And you would have done special psychoanalytic training.  Was that at the New York [Psychoanalytic] Institute or where was it?

HB:      It was at what was then called the Downstate Psychoanalytic Institute and is now the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education affiliated with the New York University School of Medicine.

MM:     Tell me a little bit about that.

HB:      My analytic training was fascinating, very rewarding.  Troubling in those days, because they were – I would say analytic education has changed tremendously since the earliest period – but it did give me a great feeling for the field, for having a psychoanalytic identity, being interested in the theory of psychoanalysis, the technique of psychoanalysis and direct clinical work with patients.  It also gave me a special interest and identification with the psychoanalytic literature which is now vast, but even in those days, it was quite large; and how theory and technique have evolved over the century.

MM:     Can you talk a little bit about that?  I know it’s probably hard to condense into a few sentences, but how have theory and technique changed since you began your own practice?

HB:      Well, I would say, the way theory was presented then was much more authoritarian in its tone and with a tendency towards a feeling that it was – how shall we say? – pretty much set.  That it was a theory which was much less elastic than we view it today.  And that the ideas and the concepts were pretty much well formulated and not subject to re-evaluation the same way we review every aspect of theory and technique today.  I don’t mean that it was simply dogmatic.  It wasn’t.  But there was more emphasis on the theory as it then stood, as a way – a very comprehensive way – of understanding the human condition and what we call human nature, than today’s feeling that there is no aspect or theory that isn’t subject to question, to reevaluation and to being subjected to scientific scrutiny.  Those ideas about scientific scrutiny and always keeping a certain degree of scientific skepticism in the foreground were present but they were in the background.  Today they’re in the foreground.

MM:     OK, good to know.  And just because I know this is going to come up – soon after you began your training, the antipsychotic drugs began to be widely used.   Talk to me a little bit about your ideas about how those fit in to psychoanalytic practice or not.

HB:      Well, my first experience with these drugs was very interesting to me and I’m sure it was to many of the analysts and psychiatrists in my generation.  At that time I still had much more contact than I have today with psychotic patients, especially as a resident, and I tried the drugs on patients and then I tried the patients off the drugs.  And I was very surprised that some of the delusional patients gave up their delusions when they were on the drugs.  So I became convinced that, in the treatment of psychoses, the drugs were definitely very valuable.  Today, in working with non-psychotic patients, with patients who function in life outside of hospitals, the drugs are an adjunct.  They’re helpful.  They make it possible for some patients who are terribly depressed or terribly anxious to participate in therapy when they might not be able to without the help of the drugs.

On the other hand, in my view, the public has been subjected to a barrage of almost propaganda that the drugs are all that’s needed and that one can resolve issues of extreme anxiety and depression and everything else that ails us from a psychological viewpoint, simply by taking a pill.  That idea of a pill panacea is really a myth.  It’s a fairytale.  There is still no substitute for being able to talk out one’s problems, one’s conflicts, and to gain deeper insight and self-knowledge through psychoanalysis and dynamic psychotherapy.  Technically, what we call psychoanalytic psychotherapy.  And I want to say something else about that now.  In my opinion, all rational psychotherapy is based upon psychoanalytic principles.

MM:     When you say all rational psychotherapy, what would that include?

HB:      Well, that would include various kinds of talk therapies; but it doesn’t include primal scream.  It doesn’t include people being put into a bathtub and being told that they’ve been reborn without their conflicts and problems.

MM:     But for example, cognitive behavioral therapy?

HB:      Not really, because cognitive behavioral therapy does not deal with giving people greater awareness and insight into the nature of their inner disturbance.

MM:     OK.

HB:      Or for that matter greater awareness of what drives them in healthy directions.  Why an artist is interested in being an artist [or] why someone chose to be a scientist.  Even some aspects of creativity.  They’re not interested in that at all nor do they [CBT therapists] offer any understanding of these motivations in people.  As a matter of fact, in some ways [CBT] blunts curiosity and self-observation and self-scrutiny, rather than fostering it.

MM:     OK, very good.  Tell me then a little bit about how you met and got to know Dr. Leo Rangell.

HB:      Well, that’s a fascinating story in its own right.  I was a very young analyst at the time.  We had gone – I think it was the first International Psychoanalytic Association [IPA] conference[1] I attended after my graduation as an analyst.  My wife and I went to Vienna and Leo Rangell was then President of the IPA.  And we enjoyed the meeting.  It was particularly interesting since it was my first IPA conference and I was very impressed with Dr. Rangell’s address.  But, of course, there seemed to be a huge gap between us.  He was the President of the IPA and a very senior analyst and I was a young analyst really at the very beginning of my career.

Then, lo and behold, we met in the Loire Valley in France.  We both happened to go – pure serendipity – to the same chateau resort.  The Chateau d’Artigny, it was called, in the Loire Valley, and we started to chat.  We introduced ourselves to each other and we became friends.  It was just an amazing development, but we became good friends and we had a great time together with our wives and the friendship was maintained.

And then another development occurred.  I must have been about 42-43 years of age.  Leo was still President of the IPA.

MM:     He was President of the IPA for quite a long time.

HB:      For four years.  Then I was selected to become Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, which is one of the most important positions in the American Psychoanalytic Association,[2] and in psychoanalysis.  My love for the literature made it something I knew I could thoroughly appreciate and would find very rewarding.  So there was a meeting of the IPA executive, and the editors of the various journals were going to join with Dr. Rangell in the discussion of some current significant issues in the field.  We met again, this time under different circumstances. and our friendship deepened.

After becoming Editor, I chose Leo, in addition to the Editorial Board, as an [editorial] consultant, [often] along with the other Leo who was an important person in my thinking about analysis at the time and made important contributions.  That was Leo Stone.[3]  So the two Leos were [prominent among my editorial] consultants, Leo Rangell and Leo Stone.  I would occasionally run something [problematic] by either Dr. Rangell or Dr. Stone, to get additional points of view, especially where there was disagreement within the Editorial Board and where I was unsure myself on how I felt about a particular paper and how to evaluate it.

MM:     OK.  Can you give me any specific examples?  What kind of controversies might there be?

HB:      Well, it could have been varied; because, for example, Leo Rangell’s expertise ran the gamut of psychoanalysis, from psychoanalytic theory to psychoanalytic technique to the knowledge of the literature to the evolution of psychoanalytic thought.  Witness his recent book, My Life in Theory, which is a wonderful exposition of the development of analytic theory over the course of a half century of psychoanalysis.  So it could have been anything.  Specific issues that came to mind – one of them involved a paper on the application of dream theory to more general issues in psychoanalysis.  I remember it was very complex.  I couldn’t decide whether it was a contribution or really it was too obtuse to be of any great use to the field.  I remember that Leo and I had quite a discussion about it and I finally decided it would be best to accept it and let the field decide its ultimate value.

MM:     OK.  Can you talk a little bit more about what Dr. Rangell meant to you personally?

HB:      Yes.  We became fast friends and we maintained our friendship over the many years.  It was difficult because what happened was we were separated by 3,000 miles and Leo, at one point, proposed that we write papers together.  But it was difficult to do this by correspondence and I thought it might not really work.  Whereas in the past, at a younger phase of life, we would meet regularly at the meetings of either the American Psychoanalytic, or the IPA.  Or Leo had his sister here in this community and occasionally he would visit, or he would be here in New York to give lectures, or I would see him in California.  But as time went on, we were both terribly busy.

Then in the later years, Leo was infirm, as his age became a very advanced age.  He was infirm; but I do want to emphasize Leo was never infirm mentally [or] psychologically.  It was amazing.  Even in his mid-nineties, he was absolutely remarkable and totally lucid, coherent without any evidence of confusion.  His memory was intact.  His sense of humor, which was marvelous, remained intact to the very end.  There was another thing I do want to mention.  Leo’s sense of humor was fantastic, absolutely fantastic.  Jacob Arlow[4] was a close friend of both of us and was a very important figure in the field.  He agreed with me.  When we talked about Leo, Jack and I agreed that Leo’s sense of humor was without parallel [among analysts].  He also had a tremendous capacity to mimic, so that when he would describe someone, that person came to life.  Leo’s postures, expressions, his non-verbal communication as well as his voice – he could [precisely] mimic that person.  So the person actually came to life while we were talking about the person.  It was amazing.

MM:     That’s wonderful.

HB:      A very unusual gift.  Of course, you could use it satirically or sarcastically but it also could be used to bring the person to life and in a way made the discourse about the person’s ideas or contributions more lively and more [highly individual].

MM:     That’s really great.  So if you were asked to sort of describe what his major contributions would be, what would you say?

HB:      Well, they are a number.  This is one of the really important things about Leo Rangell – they range over the entire range and breadth of psychoanalysis.  It was not a narrow focus.  [His contributions ranged over the entire length and breadth of psychoanalysis.]  Leo’s contributions are in the area of psychoanalytic theory, in the area of psychoanalytic technique, in clinical psychoanalysis, and in what we call applied psychoanalysis, [where] psychoanalysis is applied to the humanities or to fields that are on the border of psychoanalysis, but are not strictly psychoanalytic.  Contributions to theory – I would say that Leo’s investigations of the microscopic and macroscopic aspects of intrapsychic conflict were very valuable, very interesting, rewarding reading to this day.

A major clinical contribution, which is representative of his later contributions, was his paper on doll phobia which won an important international prize at the time it was presented.[5]  That was a beautiful paper in terms of demonstrating at that particular time the value of ego-psychology and working from the surface to that understanding – the importance of defenses as well as unconscious impulses – compromised formation, and also the many, many different layers of meaning of the phobia.

MM:     Doll phobia?

HB:      Doll phobia.  It may have left out certain perverse aspects of the patient but that’s viewed retrospectively for its time.  We all have to – we’re all creatures of our time.  Even [Sigmund] Freud said it about himself.  For its time and its day, it was a wonderful paper both theoretically and clinically.  It still makes very, very rewarding reading.

Let me get also to Leo’s discussions of technique, because in recent years – now I’m talking here really bringing us into the 21st century, because Leo’s books, My Life in Theory and The Road to Unity, were in the first decade of the 21st century.  It’s a marvelous description of the evolution of psychoanalytic thought.  It shows Leo’s interest in the nature of the various controversies that have evolved, his concerns about the tendency in recent years towards a kind of fragmentation of [psychoanalytic] thought, as he saw it.  [Leo chose] more of an emphasis on the dangers of what we call pluralism with so many different theories dissolving into fragmentation.  Then the possibility, you see – which I would have felt was an important counterpart to [obfuscation and fragmentation] – the theory [that] there was another side to this, which is the controversies themselves can stimulate ultimately new developments which can be progressive and positive in the evolution of psychoanalytic thought.

So there were two sides to it.  Leo, I think, [over]emphasized more the negative, the dangers of a kind of dissolution, of a lack of cohesion, of confusion within the field, of non-recognition of contradictions and so forth.  The other side of [the intense controversy] was it might be a stimulus to analytic creativity.

MM:     So he was trying to integrate different strains of theory.

HB:      Right.  Another of his ideas when he was [writing] about the theoretical developments in analysis was what he called total composite theory.  His idea was to integrate the different strains, including some of the controversial strands and directions in psychoanalysis, in a way which he thought would allow the best and most promising of the newer ideas to be brought into the mainstream of analytic thought.  The problem there was that it’s a wonderful idea but very difficult to achieve.  This is in what Freud called the impossible profession.  It takes a very long time to evaluate [new analytic ideas].

It’s not like you can use guinea pigs or mice and so forth.  You have to follow human beings over a long period of time, to really test and evaluate these different strains in analytic thought and technique.  And there is no longer agreement.  In Freud’s day, Freud thought he was the arbiter of what was considered to be psychoanalytical or was considered to be non-analytical, what was considered to be acceptable or to be non-acceptable.  What would be in the field and under the umbrella of psychoanalysis or what would be outside psychoanalysis.  In those days, people left the field, like [Carl] Jung and Adler, or like Reich and so forth.[6]  Today there are very large disagreements, but people stay within the umbrella of psychoanalysis and that has its advantages also as well as its disadvantages, its pros as well as its cons.  Leo’s idea of total composite theory is elegant and it’s an ideal; but one that I think cannot be realistically achieved.  There’s just too much disagreement, too much of a difference in points of view, and one cannot decide whose ideas are necessarily better.

Leo thought that over time what was valuable, what was generally an advance in analytic thought, could be integrated after it has been assessed through clinical work and reevaluation over time.  It’s a fine ideal but in actual practice at the present time it doesn’t work because there are very serious problems.  It takes a very long time for these different strands and different trends in psychoanalytic thought to evolve and to be tested in first of all, clinical work, as well as their theoretical compatibility with other ideas and probably in the long run in the future, with neuroscientific contributions.  The people or colleagues who represent one viewpoint are not simply convinced that opposing or different viewpoints, not necessarily in opposition but different viewpoints, are necessarily better.  And because of questions I’ll come to in a moment, it is very difficult to assess which ideas in the long run will prove to be of the greatest value and will ultimately be absorbed into the mainstream of psychoanalysis.

Some of the ideas and trends acquired a semi-orthodoxy of their own even when they were different from mainstream.  They became pretty much fixed in their point of view and that because of issues of group loyalty, of inter-identification within the group, of what we might describe as narcissistic investment in certain analytic formulations and a host of other issues, including a person’s identification with a particular group.  What Leo had really described, but didn’t make use of fully – the transference to theory, that the transference to one’s teachers became displaced onto their theoretical formulations.  So some people became so to speak locked into those particular trends or formulations or concepts.

MM:     That’s really, really interesting.  OK.

HB:      Leo did a [careful] analysis of some of the problems in the field just in those terms.  Problems that arise because of loyalties, problems that arise because of transference, problems that arise because of what he thought was castration anxiety, unresolved anxieties, problems of dependence, dependence on one’s teachers, dependence on one’s group and so forth – even issues of economics, that referrals came from the group that you were attached to and so you became even economically at times dependent on your particular group.

MM:     That’s very insightful.

HB:      Yes.  It was very insightful and I think Leo could have extended it more to himself.  [laughs]  But he did a fabulous job and we all have our limits.  I think, given all that he contributed over the many, many years, over a lifetime of work, his contributions were [prolific].  [Limitations] could be said of all of us.  It always behooves us to look at our biases, our prejudices, and our preferences.  One can even say that sometimes a preference is a form of prejudice.

MM:     Sure.

HB:      I think Leo did [an in-depth] dissection too of the some of the problems we’re confronted with.  I didn’t get to the stress on technique.  In my opinion Leo’s concerns, his fears about the misuse of self-disclosure, the analyst revealing too much of himself and the interpersonal aspects of psychoanalysis, were quite important.  But again there’s always a question of how much – if the analyst is sick, if the analyst is depressed, and so on.  There may be a place in terms of the honesty – what Freud said [was that] analysis is based on the love of truth and having the patient really feel what is going on is completely candid between the two of them – between the two parties in analytic work.

Some degree of self-disclosure may be important.  It may be important to say to a patient that I have an [illness].  I’ll be out for a couple of weeks or for an indeterminate period or whatever.  One doesn’t have to go into every detail at all.  On the other hand, “How many children do you have, Doctor?  Do you have boys or girls?”  That’s grist for the mill [without needing an answer].  Because we want to know what [are] the patient’s fantasies, what the patient imagines, what the patient thinks or hopes.  “I hope you have a daughter, so you know something about what it’s like to raise a girl,” [if] you’re a male analyst.  There’s a question of self-disclosure to the benefit of the patient, versus self disclosure for the benefit of the analyst.  Is it really useful, therapeutically?  Clinically?  Is it interference?  Is it a seduction?  [Is it self-aggrandizement?]  Is it an attack in a subtle way on the patient or is it a genuine benefit to the analytic work and is it in keeping with the overall principles of psychoanalysis?

Now I think Leo explored that very well.  Other areas, I think, still remain for discussion.  I think, for example, when Leo brought up his concerns about the change from a one-person psychology to a two-person psychology, I think there is something definitely to be said for his concern and his point of view.  But again, one would need more balance today.  We have both a one-person and a two-person psychology and the analyst’s personality is always there.  It’s part of the patient’s external reality; it’s part of the reality of the analytic work, just as the analyst’s gender.  For example, [with] two women who work together from the outset, a female analyst and a female patient, there’s much more likelihood initially for a mother transference.  Freud was aware of that, even though the transference can be completely irrational.  And it’s based on fantasy, not really so much at all on reality.   It’s a compromise that includes both.

But the same thing would pertain to two men who work together, a male analyst and a male patient, but as the analysis evolves, one would expect that transferences from the mother, from the father, from the siblings, would all come into the treatment.  So we do take into account the realities of the psychoanalytic situation.  Some analysts confronted with the patient [who] needs a second analyst.  You might say, well, he worked with a man and they want a good reason for thinking that the patient might now do better working with a woman.  That [idea] goes back really to very early analytic work.

So we take into account the realities of the analyst situation – whether the analyst is ill, whether the analyst is obsessive and the desk is perfectly arranged and everything in order and the humidity of the room carefully controlled, or whether things have been scattered in the analyst’s office and so forth.  All of this lends its own flavor to the analysis and we have different styles of interpretation.  No two analyses can be identical.  But I want to add a proviso:  one would expect that the major conflicts of the patient would be analyzed, whoever the analyst is.  There’d be variations.  It would never be the same, but the major issues, the major conflicts, the major problems that the patient has been struggling with would be addressed, hopefully, whoever the analyst was.

Now another proviso:  it will also vary with the school of thought within analysis so that an analysis by a Freudian and an analysis by an object relations theorist[7] and an analysis by a self-psychologist or by a Kleinian therapist[8] will all be somewhat different.  But they will overlap.  They will overlap, but there’d be significant differences and those differences are not going to be easily resolved.  We can talk about total composite theory but we have not been able to by any means resolve the differences nor should the differences be papered over.  [Theoretical] contradictions [and] irreconcilable [concepts should not] be overlooked or [avoided to serve a false sense of harmony].

At the same time we can understand the value of some of the different points of view.  For example, Melanie Klein’s description of splitting, in terms of an all-good object and an all-bad object, is very important.  One has only to think in terms of the medieval distinctions between God and the Devil.  God was the all-good object, the Devil the all-bad object; and in more modern times, the idealization of the Aryan by the Nazis as all good and the Jew was demonized as all bad.  That was a very significant contribution by Melanie Klein.  And [Heinz] Kohut did give us self-psychology with very significant additions to our understanding of narcissism – the narcissistic transferences and the importance of the narcissistic counter-transference.[9]  The analyst who can be grandiose, the analyst who can have a feeling, perhaps it’s unconscious – he’s got the [only] answer [or] she’s got the [one] answer – that kind of omniscience.

MM:     Yes.  I have certainly engaged in that a couple of times.  This is really fascinating and it tells that trying to unify all these different factors would be an incredibly difficult undertaking.

HB:      Right.  So it’s wonderful to think we can integrate and it’s an ideal yet to be achieved, but it seems right now that we are a very long way from that.  And we do have these very different schools of thought which have made their own contributions but are also very different from each other and which include aspects that we don’t accept in the other person’s, or the other school, of thought.  [Some theories are incompatible.]

MM:     Right.  And other schools can be very cross-fertilizing.

HB:      Very cross-fertilizing, even creative – at least fostering creativity, but in other ways also looked upon as not psychoanalysis but a form of psychotherapy or as departing from basic psychoanalytic insights and concepts and so forth.  Now Leo [analyzed], too, some of the fields and schools of thought taking one area – pars pro toto – taking one part of analytic theory and elevating it to a total theory, as one of the major reasons for some of the dissension and the evolution of different schools of thought.  I think there’s a good deal of wisdom in this but it is by no means, when we look at the whole picture, the only reason why we have differences in schools of thought, differences in theory and differences in technique.

MM:     OK.

HB:      Freud thought he could be much more objective than he really actually was in practice.  Today we’re much more aware of the analyst’s own personality, what we call the interpersonal exchanges that go on between analyst and patient.  But we also, at least within mainstream analysis, remain very much focused upon the intra-psychic unconscious conflicts of the patient.  So it’s not just that we’ve lost something by a two-person conception of the analytic work – and here we’re talking about technique – but one can understand that there’s both a one-person focus, [on] the unconscious conflicts which go way back to childhood, and the effect of the interpersonal exchanges that are going on, the conscious and unconscious communication that’s going on between analyst and patient all the time.

It’s important to try, in my view, to try to understand that effect on the earlier unconscious conflicts.  They can be anchored – for example, if you have a sleepy analyst, you can anchor a patient’s feeling masochistically victimized.  That adds a reality to their feeling victimized, [fortified] in the analytic situation.  But [the sleepy analyst] is not the source of the patient’s masochistic personality and their unconscious masochistic fantasies.  [The patient has a masochistic character prior to his/her being in analysis.]

MM:     OK.  We’re going to have to stop now because the [video] tape is running out.  So do you have time to keep going?

HB:      Yes.  There are a couple of other things I wanted to say.

MM:     I would certainly like to hear them.  OK, just let me change the tape.  This is fascinating.  I’ve spent a lot of time working in mental health – I mean that’s been my major field for the last two years but most of the people that I talk to these days are working in cognitive behavioral therapy and I don’t get to talk to enough psychoanalysts.

HB:      I would like to address one other element, which is Leo’s courage to disagree and to bring his point of view openly, candidly into analytic discourse and to feel absolutely free to present his point of view and why he disagrees with other points of view.  Now that courage was also present in Leo’s work in applied analysis and I want to just mention two areas.  One, the book he wrote, I think it was called The Mind of Watergate.  That was psychoanalysis and analytic thought, not clinical analysis at all, but analytic thought applied to a major social upheaval in this country.

Ultimately the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and [Leo’s understanding] of the various people involved, [of] how Watergate developed, the impeachment process and Nixon’s resignation, really is a kind of classic in applied analytic work.  It took a great deal of courage as well as analytic thought, careful evaluation and research, for Leo to write that book on the mind of Watergate, to attempt to get into Nixon’s mind and the mind of the other characters involved in the Watergate fiasco.  I think that was, of course a watershed in American history because he was the first president – I think the only president – to actually resign to avoid impeachment.

MM:     Yes, it was remarkable and it is a kind of watershed – before and after Watergate are very distinctly different.

HB:      Yes, right.  So I think, when we look back on it, one will see what a fine contribution Leo’s work was in the area of the whole Watergate fiasco and his attempt to understand all the social, political and psychological forces involved.  Whatever the limitations of the work, it’s still an admirable [accomplishment].  No one historian, no one analyst, can fully take into account every aspect of what occurred at the time of Watergate and what led to it and what the aftermath was.

[Similar issues] really came up again in Leo’s thinking and his contribution was an exploration of the attempted impeachment of President Clinton and Leo’s discourse on the hypocrisy that was involved.  One could say he could have gone further into the forces within Clinton that [were so self-destructive] – like a Greek tragedy – what was going on inside him, creating the whole scene in which he might end up being so severely criticized, [humiliated,] and threatened with impeachment.  But at the same time, it was an exploration, too, of the hypocrisy of those who were attempting to impeach President Clinton.  One of the people voted for impeachment was having an extramarital affair at the same time he was voting for impeachment.

Leo made other contributions too, to applied analysis, [in] other areas.  He also [appreciated others, and e.g.,] admired my work on Marcel Proust and my organizing the symposia on psychoanalysis [and art] in Florence, Italy.  But I think [his analytic investigation of Watergate] was very significant and shows Leo’s acumen, how adroit he was in his dissection of different trends and different areas.  It’s one thing for an analyst to do clinical work; it’s another thing to look at a political process and a social, [historical] upheaval and attempt to apply analytic insights and to draw analytic inferences from it.

MM:     Right.  And it [suggests] to me that he was a very gutsy kind of person.

HB:      Yes, he was very gutsy.

MM:     Always willing to share whatever opinion he had, whatever ideas he had, even though they might not be popular at the time.

HB:      Leo was very concerned that – just along the lines you bring up – he was always very concerned about what he called fads, that what’s popular is not necessarily what’s useful or constructive, and not something that is scientifically correct.  So we remember Leo with great affection, and I think he will always have a permanent place in the history of psychoanalysis.

MM:     Could you just say a word – he served as President of the APA, right?

HB:      Right.

MM:     And the IPA?

HB:      Both.

MM:     And was there any particular contribution he made to the organizational history that you might want to note?

HB:      No, in those days I don’t really feel that was the case, particularly with the American Psychoanalytic [Association], because in those days being President of the American was more of an honor.

MM:     OK.

HB:      You served for really just about a year and there wasn’t an opportunity for a major impact on organizational psychoanalysis.

MM:     OK.  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

HB:      Well, I think one can say that Leo, as you say, was gutsy.  He was never inhibited about engaging in all the controversies that affected psychoanalysis and part of psychoanalysis from its inception.  I think that Leo sometimes had some difficulty in his own need for recognition, his own narcissistic need to feel that he was sufficiently recognized and that his contributions were sufficiently fully appreciated.  But, as I’ve said, that doesn’t change the nature of what he actually contributed.  But that’s a personality trait [that provoked others] and fortunately that didn’t get in the way of what he actually has left us and the richness of his many, many contributions.  And just a last statement.  One is impressed by the breath of his contributions, by how prolific he was – just an extraordinary number of papers in the analytic literature.  I think he wrote over 250 papers.  It’s extremely impressive and some of them are truly gems.

MM:     OK, thank you very much.

HB:      You’re very welcome.

MM:     It’s a pleasure talking to you.

HB:      I wanted to tell you just an example of Leo’s – how plucky he was.  At age 94 or 95, when my wife and I were out in California, he drove down to pick us up to go to dinner together.  He was driving and we were concerned [and apprehensive].

MM:     I would be.

HB:      We were nervous about Leo’s welfare, driving at night to go to dinner

MM:     Well, they’ve had some articles about this lately.  Some people fade in their 80s to a remarkable degree; other people just can keep on going.

HB:      The last time we were all together [was on a panel] for the 100th anniversary of the New York Psychoanalytic [Society].  Leo – it was clear his body was frail, he was physically weakening.  The [serious physical] frailties were there; [but] his lucidity, his sense of humor, the clarity of his thinking were unchanged.

MM:     That’s wonderful.

HB:      [He tired easily; but] it was impressive to everybody.

MM:     That’s great.

END OF INTERVIEW




[1] The IPA was founded in 1910 as a weekly discussion group of Sigmund Freud and four colleagues; today, it is a major international professional society, with membership on four continents.  For more information, including a historical video narrated by Dr. Rangell, see www.ipa.org.uk .

[2] Founded in 1911.  See www.apsa.org .

[3] Leo Stone (1904-1997) served as President of both the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and the New York Psychoanalytic Society.  He became internationally recognized in the 1950s for his advocacy of expanding the scope of psychoanalysis to humanely treat a wide range of disorders.

[4] Jacob Arlow (1912-2004) was a prominent New York psychoanalyst, co-author of an important 1964 book, Psychoanalytic Concepts and the Structural Theory, and an editor of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly 1972-79.

[5] Rangell L. (1952). The Analysis of a Doll Phobia.  International Journal of Psychoanalysis  33: 43-53.

[6] Carl Jung (1875-1961), Alfred Adler (1879-1937), and Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) were all early associates of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).  Jung was Freud’s disciple and close associate from 1906 to 1913, but his theory of the collective unconscious (expanding on Freud’s concept of the personal unconscious) eventually led to a permanent break between the two men in 1914.  Adler was a colleague and cofounder of psychoanalysis; after developing his own ideas on personality theory, he and his supporters formally left the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1911.  Reich, one of the “second generation,” was director of Freud’s outpatient clinic in the 1920s; he began to focus on character analysis and sex education, and began to deviate from psychoanalytic practice from 1930 onwards.

[7] Object-relations theory describes the dynamic process of psychic growth and development in relation to family and other close relationships.  The concept was introduced by Otto Rank (1884-1939) in the 1920s, and more extensively developed by Ronald Fairbairn, Melanie Klein and others in the 1940s and 1950s.

[8] Melanie Klein (1882-1960) was an Austrian-British psychoanalyst who worked extensively with young children, developing play techniques that she saw as helping to reveal aggression and anger, life and death instincts, at very early ages.  She was a leader in object-relations theory.

[9] Heinz Kohut (1913-1981) an Austrian-American psychologist, developed self-psychology, which considers disrupted or unmet developmental needs to be the root causes of psychological disorders, at the University of Chicago in the 1960s.