With a Therapeutic Ear

I have two new patients, which in itself is surprising. This feels like psychoanalysis on the front lines. These two men know much more about the psychoanalytic hour than I could learn in a few lifetimes. One of them discovered psychoanalysis, and the other was both a colleague and a friend of Sigmund Freud. The next sentence refuses to be written before I answer a basic question: how can I treat patients in psychoanalysis who’ve been dead since 1939 and 1933, respectively? Sandor Ferenczi, the younger of the two, died first. I’m going to need Carl Jung’s help to answer the question. Psychoanalytic treatment of dead persons is possible only in the imagination, in the mind of a writer, which I am. I am a reader first, and for nearly a decade I’ve been buying volumes of psychoanalytic correspondences, mostly of Freud with his colleagues, but also volumes of Jung’s correspondences. For now, Freud and Ferenczi are the only two famous psychoanalysts who’ve decided to have fifty-minute sessions on the couch in my office, which for reasons I remain unaware of, is on First Avenue in downtown Seattle, a few minutes walk from Pike Place Market. I imagine each of them alive in 2017, long enough to lie on the psychoanalytic couch for fifty minutes four or five times a week. Perhaps this is my fictional way of discovering new life in psychoanalysis, which in reality I’m experiencing as a patient on the couch. I have lots of questions for both of these psychoanalysts, which as their analyst I’ll probably never be able to ask them. I finished training to be a psychotherapist eighteen years ago, so this is my fictional opportunity to return to the world of listening to others with a therapeutic ear. Both of these patients have been in my office today for their initial sessions. Several hours have passed since the second of the two, Ferenczi, left. I’ll walk home as soon as I finish writing these sentences. There shouldn’t be many more to write. Neither of them spoke much. Freud’s mind was in 1921, while Ferenczi’s was in 1917. I listened. What could I say, considering whom I was listening to?

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