"That’s the trouble with reading psychoanalytic theory—it’s impossible to dislike people without working out what projections of my own I’m throwing out"by Anna Blundy / August 20, 2015 / Leave a comment
The psychoanalyst’s room was dark and cold. Her house was on a grotty street in a grotty area famous for pound shops and drunks. Inside, it was furnished in what I imagine, from a position of total ignorance, to be Edwardian style, verisimilitude enhanced by absence of effective lighting. She herself was so frighteningly vampiric that she may well have been sitting there in the sepulchral gloom for a hundred years, getting thinner and scarier.
I was being interviewed for a place on a course (I did not get it) and was baffled when she started asking persecutory questions about my private life. Afterwards, shaken, I couldn’t just think: “Ooh. Horrible, scary woman.” That’s the trouble with reading psychoanalytic theory—it’s impossible to dislike people (or to like them) without working out what projections of my own I’m throwing out. I wondered if I’d been so intimidated that I immediately infantalised myself? Did I unconsciously invite her to be cruel? Is there some part of me that is frightened of the course and I projected that onto her? Did she represent some heretofore unknown horrors in my own mother (not an obviously vampiric person)?
I told a psychoanalyst friend. “Oh, God, her!” he gasped. “Everyone’s petrified of her. She’s mean in those interviews.” Relieved. A simple case of someone who isn’t very nice. So rare! My friend, a tweedy type of analyst who, like a silver-haired pilot, probably makes his patients feel they’re in good hands, went on. “Imagine lying on her couch five days a week!” Nothing would induce me to lie down with that person lurking darkly behind me.
Interesting idea, though, as my own analyst’s imminent retirement means I may now have to find someone new so I can keep training. I’ve been to seminars led by all kinds of eminent psych people, but have rarely imagined what it might be like to be their patient. Teaching is such a different stance. (The only time I’ve seen my own analyst teach it was so shocking to hear that private voice in public that I couldn’t understand the words).
I was once shown round Sigmund Freud’s house by a darkly glittering,…