An Interdisciplinary Retrospective

By Jeffrey Berman

Subjects: Psychoanalysis, Psychological Approaches To Literature, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory
Hardcover : 9781438495682, 266 pages, December 2023
Paperback : 9781438495699, 266 pages, June 2024

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Table of contents

Introduction: Learning from Superiors

1. Sander L. Gilman’s Psychoanalysis of Freud

2. Allen Wheelis’s Depiction of Remediable and Irremediable Suffering and Joan Wheelis’s The Known, the Secret, the Forgotten

3. Listening to Nancy J. Chodorow

4. Christopher Bollas’s Psychoanalytic Literary Education

5. The Paradoxical Adam Phillips

Conclusion: Psychoanalysis—A Work in Progress
Works Cited

Assesses the contributions of six major psychoanalytic thinkers in the light of current academic and clinical trends in psychoanalysis.


Psychoanalysis: An Interdisciplinary Retrospective offers in-depth discussions of and conversations with six psychoanalytic writers: Christopher Bollas, Nancy Chodorow, Sander L. Gilman, Adam Phillips, and Allen and Joan Wheelis. All are genuinely interdisciplinary in their work, bridging multiple cultural and professional positions, but all are deeply rooted in the humanities. They are all also highly controversial, challenging and critiquing conventional psychoanalytic wisdom while also devoting themselves to expanding psychoanalytic knowledge. Drawing on interviews as well as his own readings, Jeffrey Berman examines the continuities and discontinuities in each writer's work while also exploring the interrelationships between psychoanalysis and the humanities. The book ultimately offers a portrait of psychoanalysis as a work in progress, a plurality of visions that might more aptly be termed psychoanalyses.

Jeffrey Berman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the University at Albany, State University of New York. His many books include Dying to Teach: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Learning; Writing the Talking Cure: Irvin D. Yalom and the Literature of Psychotherapy; and Writing Widowhood: The Landscapes of Bereavement, all published by SUNY Press.


"This deeply engaging and page-turning book delves into the rich and tangled intersections between psychoanalysis and literature. Jeffrey Berman offers us a unique cultural history of psychoanalysis, focusing on six analysts and the debates, conflicts, and prevailing assumptions of the times in which they wrote and worked. Berman shows, too, how analysts throughout the decades 'crack up' the epistemological certitudes of their own field by proffering literary analytic images and ideas. His book signifies a provocative turn that shifts the gaze of psychoanalysis away from the analysand on the couch and toward the analyst as a thinking, desiring, striving, failing, reading, writing, and vulnerable subject of humanity." — Lisa Farley, York University