Creative Listening to Inner Versions of the Living and the Dead

Several psychoanalysts, both dead and alive, are vying for attention in my imagination. If images are capable of patience, these inner parts of me are very patient, considering that they’ve been appearing and disappearing in my mind for years, without my ever figuring out how to relate to them. They’ve never been far away, since I usually spend several hours a day in the room where my nearly thirty volumes of psychoanalytic correspondences and diaries – which includes Jung’s volumes of correspondences – each have their place on the shelves. The writers of all of these correspondences are the sources of my images of dead psychoanalysts. They were human beings who committed their professional lives to helping others. And psychoanalysis, which was then in its infancy, started to provide its practitioners with a way to help themselves (it was decided that all analysts had to be analyzed as part of their training), as well as their patients. Books by contemporary psychoanalysts, including Jungian analysts, occupy much more shelf space here in my office at home than they did a decade ago. Just in the past year I’ve bought twenty books – some of them at discount prices – by a psychoanalyst in New York who’s been writing about his work with patients for over thirty years – and I’ve read parts of all of them, enough so that the author has become an intriguing mental image. Yet, until earlier today, I’d mispronounced his name. I’d watched interviews with him online, but I must not have listened to the interviewers say his name either at the beginning or at the end. Then today I spoke with someone who pronounced his name correctly, and I was reminded of the difference between knowing an author through his or her books and also having listened to that author in person speak about his or her work. Maybe my inner version of this New York analyst is trying to speak to me in new ways. Can I be creative enough to learn how to listen better?

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