by Janet Malcolm (1980)
It almost looks as if analysis were the third of those “impossible” professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results. The other two, which have been known much longer, are education and government.—Sigmund Freud: “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (1937).
As psychoanalysts, we are only too aware that our profession is not only impossible but also extremely difficult.—Adam Limentani: International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (1977).
Aaron Green (as I shall call him) is a forty-six-year-old psychoanalyst who practices in Manhattan, in the East Nineties. He has seven patients in analysis, who come four or five times a week and lie on the couch, and eight patients who come for psychotherapy once or twice or three times a week and sit in a chair. He charges between thirty and seventy dollars per (fifty-minute) hour. He is on the faculty of a local medical school, where he teaches and supervises medical students and psychiatric residents. He is a graduate of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. He came to New York to study at the Institute after getting his medical degree and serving his interneship and residency in a New England city.
He is a slight man, with a vivid, impatient, unsmiling face. He has thin dark hair and wears professorial clothes. A herringbone jacket, light-blue oxford shirt, subdued tie, and gray flannel trousers are his customary apparel. He looks Jewish. He lives with his wife and son in a brownstone apartment off Madison, four blocks from his office. The living room of his apartment is furnished with black modern sofas and armchairs, beige carpets, reproductions of modern art, photographs, folk art and archeological objects, and books; it is spare, extremely neat, pleasant, perhaps a hair studied. His consultation room is a kind of poor relation of his living room. The couch is fifties Scandinavian modern rather than seventies high-tech Italian; the pictures are old moma reproductions rather than Fondation Maeght exhibition posters; there are floor lamps instead of track lighting. The lights in the consultation room are kept dim, purposely.