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הזיקה של סטיבן מיטשל לקהילייה הטיפולית בישראל בכלל ולמכון תל-אביב לפסיכואנליזה בת זמננו בפרט

Abstract:
Dr. Michael Shoshani and Dr. Batya Shoshani's account of Stephen Mitchell's contribution and involvement in the Israeli psychotherapeutic arena in Israel in general, and with the establishment of the Tel Aviv Institute in particular, including his visit to Israel (March 2000).
Initially, the account was written as a response to Margaret Black, Mitchell's widow, whose book, co-authored with Mitchell "Freud and Beyond" is about to be translated to hebrew and published in Israel.

רשמיי ד"ר מיכאל וד"ר בתיה שושני מביקורו של סטיבן מיטשל בארץ (מארס 2000) ומתרומתו להקמת המכון הפסיכואנליטי בתל אביב, רשמים אלה מאירים את זיקתו ומעורבותו של מיטשל בזירה הטיפולית בישראל בכלל, ובהקמת מכון תל אביב בפרט.
הרשמים נכתבו לצורך הוצאתו לאור של ספרם המשותף של סטיב מיטשל ואלמנתו מרגרט בלק, "Freud and Beyond" הנמצא כעת בתהליכי תרגום לעברית.

מתפרסם מ 5/8/2005 | 23,443 צפיות

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Stephen Mitchell and the Tel Aviv Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis

Dr. Michael Shoshani and Dr. Batya Shoshani

 

         

When I think of describing my relationship with Steve Mitchell, I have doubts and hesitations.

          First of all because my acquaintance with him was short and there are people who knew him better, and for many more years. On the other hand, my relationship with Steve was very close and intensive, and had a profound impact on me, and I dare believe it also had that kind of impact on Steve as well.

Secondly, my acquaintance with him was closely related to the project of the establishment of the Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis (TAICP), and I was not sure I could speak of him without getting too deep into issues of the Institute. In contrast, the founding of the Institute was the grounds in which our relationship was born and evolved, so it is only natural that the two are interwoven in my description. 

Finally, I feared that what I wanted to share with you resembles the attempt made by a person who has just come out of a very helpful therapeutic session simultaneously trying to explain what exactly helped him. I fear I will not find the way to convey his significance for me and his special manner of supporting, of lighting darkened areas, of facilitating my self-expression and providing me with the courage to implement my vision.

          Taking these fears into account I will try to share with you my relationship with Steve. Our relationship formed in the summer of 1999, by which time I began thinking that the dream of founding a new and independent psychoanalytic institute in Israel may materialize. I needed someone to consult with and to receive an external perspective – whether the idea of founding the institute was realistic or was I merely daydreaming. For obvious reasons I knew that my consultant would have to be from outside of the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society, which was founded in 1933 and was the only psychoanalytic institute in Israel. The society was chaired at that time by Prof. Shmuel Erlich, who personally opposed the establishment of such an independent institute. Although it was never the official stance of the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society, the atmosphere rapidly became one of hostility and threats against any training analyst who tried to collaborate with us. As a senior training analyst said in a nut shell; "McCarthyism is back and thriving".

 I turned to Steve on the following grounds:

            His being an innovative and daring theoretician.  His belonging to the William Alanson White Institute, and the New York University post-doctorate program for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, that represent serious, distinguished non-IPA institutes, as well as representing a lineage of theoreticians whose writing affected me throughout the years, including Erich Fromm and Frieda Fromm-Reichman.

            His being the founder and editor in chief of the Psychoanalytic Dialogues,   

and was well known for his executive and organizational skills. Steve had a vision of a new paradigm in psychoanalysis; the interpersonal-relational school of thought, and he was thus in the midst of materializing his dream.

All these traits and achievements made Steve a unique individual, somebody to look up to, and to emulate.

I had a personal link with Steve through Batya, my wife, who while on sabbatical in New York, by the year of 1995, attended a clinical-theoretical seminar led by Steve and was highly impressed by him and his thought. During a visit in New York in June 1999, Batya met Steve and presented him with a preliminary draft of the conceptual foundation of the new Israeli institute in order to receive an initial response. His supportive, encouraging and above all enthusiastic reaction marked the beginning of our close ties. For me, that also marked the starting point of the founding of the Institute. The first step was the recruit of Dr. Gila Ofer and Michal Hazan. I turned from a founder to an elected chair of the institute. The three of us became the steering committee of the newly founded institute. In the second wave I recruited Naomi Huler, Prof. Beatriz Priel, Alice Buras, Dr. Danielle Knafo, Dr. Shimshon Wigoder, Dr. Carlo Strenger, Dr. Gabi Mann, Hani Biran, Dr. Haim Margalit, Koby Avshalom, Giselle Vered and the interdisciplinary team: Prof. Jose Bruner and Dr. Doreet Hopp. This was the core of the founding group. We began meeting on a regular basis, while simultaneously started our own official training as candidates.

During the first year of our acquaintance (from summer 1999 to summer 2000) my relationship with Steve included daily e-mail correspondence and a long phone conversation once a week. I thus accumulated many “Mitchellian” hours, plus many hours face-to-face with him during his visit in Israel in March 2000, both in personal meetings and in his intensive session with the institute’s founding members.

          There was a period when the e-mail correspondence with him was the event of the day for me. Here is a characteristic anecdote from that period: my daughter was traveling in India at that time, and at some point began signing her e-mails “Steve Mitchell”, explaining that by doing so, she could be absolutely sure that Dad would read the e-mail! Upon seeing it, he laughed to the point of tears.

His vitality, humor, warmth and directness were always evident and engaging.

 

Mitchell's visit to Israel launched three constituting events in the establishment of TAICP. The first was his leading a one-day seminar with the Institute's founding group (at Gabi Mann's house), comparing and contrasting psychoanalysis with psychotherapy. I'm certain that Steve's presence in that seminar and the way he conducted it had a significant role in shaping us from a mere group of professionals into a cohesive team in his guidance. Steve provided us with the essential tenets towards a conceptual foundation of our institute-to-be-born. 

The TAICP lawyer took part in this gathering in order to collect the signatures of all the founding members, a procedure which enabled the official establishment of the TAICP as a legal entity and as a non-profit organization. Symbolically, in that moment, the conceptual foundation was translated into a concrete and hard reality by becoming a legal entity.

Second, over a dinner at my house, Steve and I decided he would assume immediately and officially the position of chair of both the advisory committee and the qualifying committee, giving his consent that his name will appear on the head letters of the Tel Aviv Institute.

The third event took place during the conference in March 2000 in which Steve was the main speaker. In his opening remarks, before the lecture itself (as we have agreed the night before), Steve made a dramatic announcement regarding the foundation of a new independent psychoanalytic institute in Israel - an institute to be constituted by a group of fifteen senior clinicians, all of whom well-known supervisors and professors in academic settings, headed by myself. Steve also mentioned that he will be the chair of the advisory committee of this newly-founded institute.

It is difficult to describe the overwhelming impact his announcement had on the four-hundred participants of that forum. People were stunned. The impact continued to echo for the rest of the conference. I have no doubt that this declaration was an extremely dramatic moment in the history of the psychotherapeutic community in Israel which had, from that moment on, changed forever. In that moment the TAICP transformed from fantasy to concrete reality – and the rest is history.  

 

Steve said on different occasions that the Psychoanalytic Institute in Jerusalem, notwithstanding its importance and contribution, has been the only organization in Israel authorized to train psychoanalysts since 1933 and to this day. As such it has acquired the characteristics of a monopoly. Steve's ideas resonated with mine: Obviously, the two most malignant outcomes of a monopolistic organization are (a) complete equivalence of signifier and signified, and (b) a patronizing relationship between the only psychoanalytic institute and potential candidates. In the present state of affairs, the Psychoanalytic Institute chooses its candidates, but the candidates do not choose it, since there is no alternative option.

Since 1933 until today, a complete identification has been created in Israel between “psychoanalysis” and the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, including their structure, ideology, target population, work methods, and so on. In other words, the Jerusalem Institute version has turned from a “version” into a “truth,” thus leading to the trap of equating signifier and signified (see Hanna Segal’s illuminating paper from 1957 on Symbol Equation versus Symbol Formation). This state of affairs required the establishment of another Psychoanalytic Institute. This was the expected outcome of the democratization process.  

The democratic ideology stemmed inherently from the core of Steve's values and beliefs as well as mine, both influenced by the Frankfurt School.

          The more our relationship lasted and deepened I turned to Steve for more assistance. I came to learn that I had the honor and the privilege to be acquainted with a person who was in the process of revolutionizing psychoanalysis in the United States, and probably in the whole world.

          He invested a lot of effort and energy in the establishment of our institute and was generous with his time, his wisdom, his extensive knowledge, and his contacts. This was manifested in his willingness to take over as chair of our institute’s advisory board and to utilize his contacts within the international community to enlist supporters such as Thomas Ogden, Jessica Benjamin, Daniel Stern, Adam Phillips, Lewis Aron, Neil Altman, James Grotstein and Robert Stolorow. Later on, more members joined our international advisory and qualifying committees, among them Prof. Paul Ornstein, Prof. Anna Ornstein, Dr. Owen Renik, Dr. Joyce Slochower, Dr. Jonathan Slavin, Dr. Michael Eigen, Dr. Joyce McDougall and Dr. James Fisch.

This historical note should not undermine the role played by numerous training analysts of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society, which offered us their moral support, their vast experience and their guidance, in spite of the persecutory atmosphere and the extreme criticism they were put under; Although the objection to the newly founded institute never became the official stance of the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society.

 

In addition to his tremendous help with the institute, Steve was also an important source of assistance and creativity with the establishment of the "Israel Psychoanalytic Journal" founded by Prof. Moshe Halevi Spero and myself.

          I felt very lucky and moved by his generosity, his executive ability, his pragmatism and his vision, married with diligence and decisiveness, in accordance with my own tendencies and style. And indeed, there was chemistry between us and we saw many issues eye-to-eye.

          Like any good "analytic couple", we had our honeymoon and then, after six months of our acquaintance, differences of opinion started to emerge. One of them called for a "couple therapist's" intervention. The subject of the dispute was one of the most debated issues in psychoanalysis: the required number of analyses a candidate should conduct, the number of weekly hours for each analysis, and other closely related issues. We agreed that Prof. Emanuel Berman would be the right person for the job. Emanuel was on the one hand deeply involved with the traditional establishment of the IPA, and on the other hand, he held strong, innovative and revolutionary ideas concerning psychoanalysis in general, and training in particular. Fortunately, Emanuel was at that time in NYC. We had a long phone conversation and he made some suggestions that I found reasonable. Then he had a long breakfast with Steve and presented him a compromise Steve could also accept. Like a good mediator, Emanuel went back and forth between Steve and me. He was able to see and empathically represent both parties' points of view and perspectives. Thus, ultimately, the differences between Steve and I were bridged.

After a short while, the tension subsided, and the previous good rapport has been restored.   

          The contacts with Steve became increasingly personal and provided me with strength and belief in myself, in the idea, and in the feasibility of its execution.

Through our relationship I learned quite a bit about him as a person. In conversing with him I could detect the power of his theoretical and clinical thinking. I will refrain from delving into an in-depth theoretical discussion. I will only mention three points I experienced personally in our relationship and which are part and parcel of his approach.

Firstly, the strongest impression was of his direct way of speaking, eye-to-eye communication, devoid of airs. No infantilization, neither in friendly nor in therapeutic relationships, but rather a communication between two adults.

Secondly, the freedom to create, initiate and think while disregarding dogmas. Every human situation, every idea, deserves consideration and serious examination, with maximal open-mindedness.

And thirdly, the understanding that everything is dynamic and set in a process, whether people or theories are dealt.

Thus the different approaches in psychoanalysis and the arguments between them were viewed by him as part of a fertile and developing dialogue that advances psychoanalysis, rather than being regarded from the standpoint of the truth versus sacrilege. He himself searched continually for the conjunction between the intrapsychic and the interpersonal.

From my interactions with him I received plenty of strength and legitimacy due to his belief in the individual’s deep-rooted natural right (and perhaps - duty) to dream, to decide, and to carry out his thoughts and aspirations, even if they collide with the establishment. This view is tightly connected to the concept of agency – the individual as sovereign, which Mitchell so steadfastly believed in and elaborated, and whose roots are to be found in the thought of his supervisor Erich Fromm. In this context, he helped me understand that, combined with the enjoyment and the realization in exerting one’s agency, when a person reaches a decision and chooses – he simultaneously loses and renounces. And these inescapable losses must be held, mourned, and one must continue from there.

The Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis has been prematurely orphaned, while I lost a mentor, an ally, and a dear friend, and a soul mate.

 

We would welcome comments:                                 נשמח לקבל תגובות הקוראים:

 

Email:   shoshani@barak-online.net  דוא"ל: 

פקס:          03-5229720               Fax:

 

 

 

תבנית לציטוט ביבליוגרפי (APA):

שושני, מ. , שושני, ב. (2005). הזיקה של סטיבן מיטשל לקהילייה הטיפולית בישראל בכלל ולמכון תל-אביב לפסיכואנליזה בת זמננו בפרט. [גרסה אלקטרונית]. נדלה ב 17/11/2018, מאתר פסיכולוגיה עברית: https://www.hebpsy.net/articles.asp?id=525

תגובות

הוספת תגובה

חברים רשומים יכולים להוסיף תגובות והערות.
לחצו כאן לרישום משתמש חדש או על 'כניסת חברים' אם הינכם רשומים כחברים.

Limor Kaufman, PhD  דר לימור קאופמןLimor Kaufman, PhD ד"ר לימור קאופמן6/11/2005

A moving account and a tribute to Mitchell and TAICP מחווה מרגשת.

Dear Michael and Batya,

I am sorry it has taken me awhile to respond to your paper. My computer has not been working, but I just got it back from the repair and I am re-connected with the world, what a relief.  

I really enjoyed your paper!  It gave me a sense of what a tremendous achievement the establishment of TAICP has been.  The paper is a tribute to Mitchell, but my understanding in light of the paper relates to how both of you side by side with Mitchell made it happen in spite of the Israeli Psychoanalytic McCarthyism. It was really interesting for me to learn about this process and appreciate the magnitude of the achievement of establishing TAICP with Mitchell's support.
 
It also brought me back to my feelings when Steve died of my missed opportunity to personally study with him, although I did hear him talk and read much of his writing.  

I enjoyed your explanation of Steve's view on the "trade off" in conflict resolution - once you reach a decision it entails loosing and renouncing other parts.  
Your article made me think about a joke that I think Ron told you when we had dinner together in Tel Aviv. The joke is about this Jewish guy that was lost at sea and swam ashore landing on a deserted island. Twenty years later when he is found  and gives a tour of his island he shows his visitors two synagogues, his synagogue, and :"the one he wont set foot on". I wondered how come Israel, the place with more parties in the government than anywhere else had only one psychoanalytic institute... so I thought about the establishment of TAICP as a phenomenon that brought to the Israeli Psychoanalytic scene those wonderful Jewish qualities (so apparent in New York when you compare to non Jews) of diversity of opinions, independence of thoughts and the pleasures of disagreeing with the establishment.
  
I liked very much the most personal anecdotes, on your daughter signing her letters as Steve, your expression of "Mitchellian" hours and the "analytic Couple" episode.  So I will have to say in response to your doubts about writing the paper that I think the paper is really important. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn of TAICP and your personal connection with Steve, and very unique to people outside of Israel.  

It seems that the establishment of TAICP echoed similar development in the USA and maybe Europe. Both William Alanson White and NYU institutes do not belong to the IPA, so initially were perceived as supposedly less "psychoanalytic".  But Mitchell's ideas are so well received now  everywhere in the world, and so is White and NYU and I am sure TAICP can contribute so much new ideas, energy and a less doctrinated
approach to psychoanalysis in Israel.   I think it should be published and I am wondering if you intend to do it.


I hope your year got off to a good start. It is fall here with the leaves changing colors and I begin to miss Israel even more.

Enjoy the warm weather,
Limor
 
Limor Kaufman, PhD,
Certified Clinical Psychologist
NYU Post-Doc program for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
 
 

Linda I. Meyers Psy.D.  New Jersey, USALinda I. Meyers Psy.D. New Jersey, USA16/10/2005

Thank you for sharing this article with us - ד"ר לינדה מאיירס.

Dear Michael:
 
Thank you for sharing this article with us. 
As a GSAPP alum and as a candidate of the newly formed Institue of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of New Jersey and eventual board member I found your aritcle of particular interest. 
 
I'd known that there was a strong Mitchell base in Isreal by the number of you that attended the first IARPP meeting in NYC but I'd no knowledge of why and how that had come to pass.  
Steve Mitchell is a huge loss to psychoanalysis but clearly his influence has stretched far and wide and deepened our commitment to our profession and theoretical orientation.  
I thank you again.
 
Linda I. Meyers Psy.D. 
 

Dana AssafDana Assaf25/9/2005

Israeli Clinical Psychologist, Candidate at the White Institute.

Dear Michael,
I really enjoyed reading your warm, rich and beautifully written article.
You opened your article with such an honest and sincere question, wondering and worrying whether you could convey to us, the readers, the experiences of Steve Mitchell's significant influence on you, as a person, , a professional and a man of vision and praxis.
Indeed you've succeeded.
While reading your sweeping article I could feel almost as vividly and realistically the essence, enjoyment and manifold motivation of your relationship with Steve.
In regard to your relationship, the reader can capture the reciprocity dimension. There's no doubt that your influence on Steve (and the one of your friends and colleagues) did not fall short of his impact on you. Otherwise, how can one explain the light, the joy of creation, the efforts, the extreme devotion and the mutual development?
It might not have been an egalitarian process, but it certainly was a process of cooperation, that enabled such significant creation and space, along with maintaining independence and uniqueness.
Ogden speaks of the analyst's soul, meeting the one of the anlysand. Souls are mutually penetrable, a permeance from which a third subjectivity emerges, one which differs from the subjectivities both the analyst and the analysand bring along into their encounter.
It looks as if in a world of monopoly and hostile competitiveness, you, Mitchell and the founders group dared to dream, and materialize your vision of a psychoanalytic institute that is based on democratic and humanistic values.
Finally, two thoughts I had while writing these lines, as a candidate at the William Alanson White Institute, with which Steve was identified and who was a notable figure in the training and teaching staff (in the booklet I received a year ago his name still appeared as a professor and as a supervisor. Is it a coincidence? Probably not…).
Every time I enter the general board room I see the founders' portraits on the walls.
Harry Sullivan, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, Erich Fromm, Clara Thompson, Karen Horney, and the spiritual father, Sandor Ferenczi. All of those foremothers and forefathers who have influenced Mitchell's way of thinking and some of them were inspirational figures for you too. A slight sense of sacredness fills me, a sense of belonging and succession, which is so pivotal in the therapeutic work.
I wondered whether in years from now our own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would enter the Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and stand in front of your portraits as founders, along with the one of the spiritual father, Stephen Mitchell, may god rest his soul.
And in conclusion, something from a personal angle.
You ended your article saying that when one reaches a decision and makes a choice, at the same time he also loses something. You have learned that from Steve.
I myself have also made a choice, to leave my country (Israel) for some years – a decision accompanied with joy and hope, along with inevitable losses and pain. In a small painful moment this sentence of yours shimmered, and with it we can all continue and carry on.
While writing these lines I have noticed that the "Mitchell article" has been disseminated by Dr. Donnel Stern to the listserv of the White Institute faculty, students and alumni. That is certainly a great honor.
 
Happy New Year,
Dana Assaf,
Israeli Clinical Psychologist,
Candidate in Psychoanalytic training at the William Alanson White Institute, NY.
  

 

 

Dr. Vicki Semel, Academy of Clinical andDr. Vicki Semel, Academy of Clinical and25/9/2005

your description of the creation of a new and independent psychoanalytic institute.

 
Dear Michael,
I was fascinated by your description of the creation of a new and independent psychoanalytic institute in Tel Aviv and the generosity with which Stephen Mitchell helped form your school.  How is it doing?  What is happening with the classical school and its reaction to your development.
As a modern psychoanalyst in New Jersey, and the executive director of the "Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis", I really was distracted but also enjoying the story of the creation of a school and the politics of creation.  It sounds as if the loss of Stephen Mitchell was a large one and much too soon.
 Sorry I did not know of your existence when I last visited in Israel, but I will probably come again soon.
All the best,
Vicki
 
Dr. Vicki Semel
Executive Director
Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis, New Jersey
 


 

Jack Drescher, MDJack Drescher, MD6/9/2005

Interview With Stephen Mitchell - ראיון עם סטיבן מיטשל.

Dear Drs. Shoshani,

Don Stern distributed your history of Steve Mitchell to the White List-serv and I thought I'd let you know how my own experiences as a student and supervisee of Steve's at White parallel your own.  

I had interviewed Steve for our Society's Newsletter, The White Society Voice, in 1994 and I thought I'd pass a copy on to you as it still very powerfully carries his voice.  

Thanks again for raising a fond memory of Steve.

Jack Drescher, MD
Training and Supervising Analyst
William Alanson White Institute

INTERVIEW WITH STEPHEN A. MITCHELL, Ph.D.
BY JACK DRESCHER, M.D.
 


JD:  Can you talk about where you grew up, where you went to school, and why you chose to train at the White Institute when you chose analytic training?

SM:  I grew up in suburban New Jersey and my family life always centered around New York.  Politics was a big theme in my family.  My grandfather was a socialist and an intellectual.  My favorite uncle, a formative person in my life, was a communist his whole life.  He was in hiding during the McCarthy period and came out of hiding when I was seven years old.  That was a big event in my family.  I grew up around people who were interested in ideas and the difficulties people have in living, both politically and socially.
        I had read some Freud and psychology in high school and thought of majoring in psychology when I got to Yale in 1964.  Sixty per cent of my sophomore courses were psychology courses.  The introductory psych course, taught by a Jungian, was great.  He introduced me to the work of Joseph Campbell which  I liked a lot.  Once I started taking courses to major in psychology, it was much more experimental psychology.  I basically hated it and found it kind of boring.  After  my sophomore year, I became interested in philosophy and decided to major in something called "History, the Arts and Letters."  This was an extraordinary experience.  There were two years of interdisciplinary seminars in history, philosophy and the arts that covered the end of the middle ages to the beginning of the twentieth century.  They brought in the best people in these areas and each would teach a seminar.  It gave me a feel for teaching which has also been important for my life.  I remember one teacher told everyone in the class to write down the most important thing in life on a piece of paper.  We wrote what you'd expect juniors in college to write:  "love," or "finding a meaningful job," or "sex."  Then he said, "if you went back to the tenth century and asked people the same question, everybody would have given the same answer.  What do you think that answer was?"  Of course, it was "salvation."  It was a wonderful device to take you back from our time to a different world.  The whole thing was centered on that.

JD:  Was that the beginning of your interest in subjectivity?

SM:  Right.  How do you imagine it is to live in a different mind, a mind that sees this life as a brief passage into something else which is where you're going to spend eternity?  What if you saw the world in that way?  We studied the gothic cathedral, not just as a building or a piece of art but  as something that for [its builders] was a re-creation of where they were going to spend eternity.  The whole thing opened up my mind, my way of thinking about things and the connection between the disciplines.  It integrated what was going on in philosophy with a historical situation and with literature.  
        Although I got away from psychology in the formal or academic sense, I was always interested in the mind and in exploring it in different ways.  At the end of college, I wasn't sure what to study in graduate school.  I was interested in political concepts and their relation to psychology; the political and psychological dimensions of how people change.  I applied to graduate schools in philosophy and psychology.  NYU was the kind of place that was open enough so I could learn psychology but it was analytically oriented.  Bernie Kalinkowitz was the head of the department back in 1968.  So that's where I decided to go.  That was a mixed bag. In some ways, it was too open.  It was the fall following the spring of the Columbia riots, or revolution, and everything was politically charged.  Though I had a lot of sympathies for the issues involved, it was hard to talk about anything of intellectual substance without talking about its implications for ethnicity or social class or something like that.  It made it very difficult to get to the subject matter.  Those were very good years for me but there was a certain frustration for me in the looseness of things.  
        After I finished the doctoral program at NYU in 1972, I felt there was something about the formal structure at White, as opposed to NYU Post-Doc, that I really wanted.  Things were just too loose at NYU.  I liked the idea of a prescribed set of courses and a mastery of various pieces of the literature.  The White Institute interested me because the people whose supervision I liked at NYU were interpersonalists:  Avrum Ben Avi, Bernie Kalinkowitz and Bernie Friedland.  There was a whole group of psychologists that had trained at White.  The ideology of the approach to psychoanalysis was very much informed by Fromm and Sullivan who were the people that I studied at NYU.  Their ideas have informed me ever since.  
         I went to White in 1972 and finished in 1977.  I was supervised by Geneva Goodrich who had a remarkable vitality and a down-to-earth way of speaking and connecting emotionally.  She had that extraordinary ability to say virtually anything, with utter frankness and honesty, completely devoid of meanness or one-upmanship, so that one always felt cared about, in a bracing sort of way.  I learned an enormous amount from her and I felt fortunate to know and work with her.  I worked a couple of years with David Schaecter.  He also had a big impact on me.  He was extremely smart and knowledgeable, but also deeply humane and caring.  He had been very close with Fromm.  I learned a great deal abut Fromm vicariously through David that I have come to value a great deal.  I was in analysis with Milt Zaphiropoulous and that was very important and constructive, not only in terms of my personal life but in learning about analysis.  Milt has a wonderfully deep feel for life, and the way analysis can expand and enrich it, which became extremely important for me.  Levenson was the Director of the clinic during my first two years and I got to see how he thought about things.  That had a big impact on my thinking about the analytic process.  I learned a lot from him.

JD:  How did the Relational Track at NYU get started and what is your current role there?

SM:  That had a complicated history.  For years, Post-Doc was a place that was in a lot of trouble politically because there were two tracks.  There was a very conservative Freudian Track and an IH, or Interpersonal Humanistic Track. The IH Track had many of the same people I trained with when I was in the doctoral program and some people from White:  Ben Wolstein, Ed Levenson and people like that.  The main people that had administrative power in the IH track were, in my view, also very conservative and ideologically rigid.  You had these two groups that were stalemating each other.  It was a sick institution, I think.  The students were very unhappy, the Freudians couldn't really do what they wanted and the IH people couldn't do what they wanted.  They stymied each other.  It was a good example of the down side of Bernie Kalinkowitz's commitment to democracy.  "Everything should be open, everyone should participate."  But sometimes that gets to the point where nothing happens or gridlock.  
        I was asked to teach a course because I'd been teaching object relations theories at other institutes.  Bernie Friedland had been teaching a course in object relations theory and he read some of the early papers I had written.  He saw that I was interested in Fairbairn and asked if I would teach in the IH group.  The feeling at that point among the interpersonalists was that only a little bit of object relations is bearable.  Bernie had his course and they didn't want to add a second course.  Administratively, they worried that object relations was a very dangerous kind of thing to the interpersonal school.  There was a sense that it was something they wanted to contain.  However, the students were very interested in object relations and the British school so there was a great clamor for it.  I ended up teaching Bernie's course for a couple of years and he did a case seminar.  
        Then Manny Ghent came along who was also interested in the British school.  He, Bernie and I became a sub-group within the IH group interested in trying to expand the courses offering object relations theory.  I was only peripherally involved and never went to any meetings.  They tried to work within the IH group to get them to open things up but there was tremendous resistance to doing that.  I did a paper at NYU around that time called "Object Relations Theory:  Friend or Foe of the Interpersonal Tradition?"  It directly addressed this question.  The discussant, Herb Zucker, attacked my paper in a tone that  reminded me of my uncle['s experience] because it had a very McCarthyesque kind of quality.  It was like object relations theories were a Freudian "front organization" that would infiltrate things.  "The interpersonal tradition needed to be kept pure of this."  It was argued on what seemed to me to be a pseudo-rational level and underneath I thought it was nuts.
        In the next couple of years it seemed there was no way for the interpersonal group to loosen up enough to allow more teaching of the British school.  We decided to see if we could find another way.  There was a third group at NYU called the Unaligned group.  We tried to see if we could offer some courses there.  We were interested in bringing other people in and a lot of this was very responsive to the students.  I guess this was in the mid-eighties.  I went to one or two meetings with the Unaligned group.  That was very interesting because it turned out we didn't really fit there either.  Being unaligned was more like an ideology.  They were more like anarchists.  They didn't want to have a well-developed curriculum.  They didn't want any structure at all.  Any stuff that didn't fit in anywhere else, that's what they wanted to offer.  I think that has an important function.  
        After my book with Jay [Greenberg] came out in 1983, I began to have a sense of a whole area of study that, to me, was the most exciting stuff going on in analysis.  I never saw object relations theory as an alternative to the interpersonal tradition.  I always saw it, in the book with Jay and then in my own book in l988, as a complementary line that was interesting to put together with interpersonal theory.  I would have been happy to have the relational line develop within the IH group.  It would have been preferable in certain ways.  But I think it was a generational thing.  The people in control had come of age fighting the Freudians and you can never outgrow those formative experiences.  If  you grow up in the depression, you're always worried about being poor no matter what your situation is.  I think they're always worried about being taken over by the Freudians.  Object relations theory was too much like Freudian theory in some ways and so it wasn't possible to let it in.  
        Then there was an accident of circumstances.  The IH people eased their opposition to the Freudians who got what they wanted:  a traditional, orthodox training.  They would take in a very small group and have a very tight sequence only with Freudians and you couldn't talk to anyone who wasn't a Freudian if you were a Freudian candidate.  The IH people had always been scared of that, as if everyone would want to be in that track.  When they let the Freudians do that, nobody wanted it.  However the Freudians were happy because they got what they wanted.  There was a feeling of magnanimity, "let everyone do what they want."  Manny, Bernie and I were granted permission to develop our own curriculum and we used the term "relational" from Jay's and my book.  We wanted a term that would embrace both the interpersonal tradition and British school object relations.  That became the term but it was really a political accident that there was a relational group.  Then Phil Bromberg and Jim Fosshage were brought in as supervisors on the Unaligned Track and saw what the three of us began to do.  They saw they had more of an affinity with what we were doing and so the five of us became the initial group.  
        What was amazing and inspiring was the flood of enthusiasm among the candidates and graduates.  Huge numbers of people felt what we were doing spoke to what they needed.  There had been a decade where a lot of people felt the Freudian courses had an intellectual content and rigor that was appealing in some ways but too conservative.  The interpersonal courses had a clinical richness but an anti-intellectual attitude.  They had to choose between the two.  What we did was open up and set up a whole bunch of courses with a lot of intellectual content but not dominated by one particular orthodoxy.  It's very open and there are a lot of people who are interested in what's going on in the world, not just in psychoanalysis.  It also had an appeal to my deep love of a more interdisciplinary kind of approach.  Lots of graduates want to come back and sit in on courses and get involved.  After the first couple of years, I wasn't on the Executive committee anymore.  I may participate politically again in the future from time to time but I don't like to be on committees.  Now I teach one semester a year and I supervise a little bit.  People tell me that NYU has become a very different place and I think it's because of the undoing of the logjam.  There has been a revitalization and it's been very exciting to be a part of it.  

JD:  How would you define a "relational psychoanalysis" as opposed to an "interpersonal psychoanalysis"?

SM:  I would see "relational" as a more inclusive term than "interpersonal."  A relational view includes the interpersonal one and also includes the intrapsychic dimensions that were developed in the British school.  I always liked Hegel's way of thinking about intellectual development as dialectics.  You are always reacting to stuff that happened before.  I think the interpersonal school grew up in reaction to the over-intrapsychic speculations of the classicists.  I think Sullivan set himself up against those speculations and then developed an extraordinarily rich tradition of looking at what takes place between the analyst and the patient.  I think he was made anxious about speculating about what might go on inside people.  He dabbled in it a little bit but in some ways it is the weakest part of his theory.  I don't think we have to be as scared of that as Sullivan was.  To me, classical analysis died conceptually a long time ago.  Not politically, in some areas.  But in the last twenty or thirty years, all the really interesting ideas have come out of post-classical psychoanalysis.  
        When I started teaching about analytic ideas, I began to think about what I do in my work.  I realized that what I do in my work has a lot to do with what I learned from the interpersonalists.  But I find there's also a tremendous richness in thinking about how people's experience and subjectivity is structured.  I draw that from the British school people I read.  There's a lot in that stuff that I don't like and that I think is dated.  There's a lot in Klein's work that is quite objectionable but I find a lot of the concepts are very rich and very clinically relevant .  Not as a kind of formula or conviction about what's inside people's heads, but more as a way of generating clinical hypotheses that I think many patients respond to in a rich way.

JD:  You and Jay Greenberg appear to be students of "comparative psychoanalysis".  You mentioned Joseph Campbell earlier.  Do you look at psychoanalytic theories as mythologies and could one place you with those like Donald Spence who view psychoanalyses as constructions.

SM:  I have learned a great deal from Spence, but I have some doubts about his hope that empirical research and what he calls naturalized transcripts will provide the route to a more scientific theorizing.  I am not as bothered by the metaphoric and personal nature of theory construction as he is.  Jay and I think in very similar ways.  There are differences but I think, methodologically, we both approach theories as constructions so we use words like models, models of the mind, and paradigms.  All of them suggest that theories are something you make.  Not that they reflect what is really out there but there's something that is constructed.  What is interesting is to look at are the meta-theoretical issues:  how are the different theories put together and what do they have in common?  What are the real differences?  What are the real potential points of convergence?  These questions are very interesting to me.  In a way, its an area that has been almost, until recently, undeveloped in psychoanalysis.  People out of each tradition are too religiously devoted to their particular theories to be able to sit back and say what are the assumptions here?  Are we and they talking about the same thing but maybe in a somewhat different language with different deities?  This is what relational means in its best usage: there's a more encompassing way of looking at a set of concepts that are often expressed in different languages.  

JD:  You've made a point of getting different theoretical points of view to talk to each other in your new journal, Psychoanalytic Dialogues.  How is the journal doing?

SM:  The journal has been a surprising success in a lot of different ways.  In some ways, my experience with the journal has been very similar to my experience at NYU. I was approached by the Analytic Press that had the idea that this was a useful enterprise.  They said that the "break-even point" was between eight hundred and a thousand subscriptions and that maybe we would reach it in three years because we weren't a membership organization.  The first issue had sixteen  hundred and now we're at the end of the third volume and it's over two thousand.  Part of the thing I like about the journal is that it's not tied to anything.  It's not tied to White, it's not tied to NYU.  There's no politics in that sense, though everything is political in the broader sense.  There is nobody whose feelings or ideology you have to worry about.  
        Dialogues created a big political uproar.  There were some people that felt it would be a competitor with Contemporary or take away from Contemporary.  I felt it was very short-sighted to believe there's only a finite group of people in the world that are going to be interested in interpersonal ideas and if they went with one journal they're not going to be interested in the other.  It sounds like Contemporary is doing well.  One of the things I'm proud of is that the book I did with Jay has actually increased people's interest in Sullivan and interpersonal theory in a way that was closed off before. I think the book opened up new arenas and that Dialogues has done the same.  Some of the people we've published in Dialogues are people who haven't had access to a larger analytic audience and intellectual community.  Readers see there's a lot more going on and then they go back and say "let's see what else that guy wrote."  They'll look at Contemporary Psychoanalysis, the journal that's connected to the White Institute.  To me, it has opened things up.

JD:  What do you think about the changes in the Institute?

SM:  I think they're good.  I'm not terribly politically involved with the institute so I don't know a lot of the details about what is going on.  The general change, I think, has been one of opening things up, and people feeling like there's a greater sense of possibility.  It seems the Institute is going through a transition and that it's trying to redefine itself.  White was a voice in the wilderness for many years, but the current psychoanalytic scene is very different.  There are many, many other people, sometimes speaking from other traditions, that are practicing and thinking in ways very similar to those White has represented.  I think the Institute needs to revitalize and reposition itself in that new context, and it seems to me that the recent changes represent a big step in that direction.

Dr. Donnel SternDr. Donnel Stern6/9/2005

Mitchell Revolutionizing Psychoanalysis - מיטשל כמחולל המהפכה בפסיכואנליזה.

Dear Batya and Michael Shoshani,
 
Thank you so much for sending me your account of your relationship with Steve and the founding of the TAICP.  It's a wonderful piece of history, and I'm very glad we now have it.  If those who participate in these events don't record them, no one else can.  Then what happens is that, 40 or 50 years down the road, young people want to know about events at the beginning of something that, by then, has grown into an institution, and there is no one to tell them.  So I congratulate you.   With your permission, I have posted your paper on the listservs of the William Alanson White Institute and the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.  You see, many people here don't know this piece of history, even people who teach and study in the institutes in which Steve also taught and supervised.
 
It seems that you and Steve had a close relationship.  You know him very much as I did. I knew him for 25 years, but I suspect, given the time you and he spent together, and your joint enthusiasm for your undertaking, that you knew him better than I did. He was always so very generous.  It’s hard to understand how he did as much as he did while spending so much time encouraging and working with so many others.  The warmth and energy you convey are also very much part of my memories of him.
 
I admire the story of TAICP, and your role in creating it and the Israeli Psychoanalytic Journal, copies of which I have seen here in New York. The history of your institute mirrors the history of the institutes with which I am associated (White and NYU Postdoc), which were also initiated (many years ago) because of the autocratic policies of the institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  Today most of us aren’t particularly interested in being part of the national and international psychoanalytic organizations.  We have made our own party!  Steve was a significant part of the reason for that--both Steve as a person and Steve’s work.  I wonder if you know that Steve was also intimately involved with the formation of many psychoanalytic training programs here in the US.  You see, when he and I trained, the institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association refused to train psychologists.  A few were accepted, but even those few were allowed to train only if they signed a waiver promising not to practice psychoanalysis.  Psychologists were supposed to get psychoanalytic training only to do research.  The waiver was routinely disregarded by those who signed it; but it was not acceptable to many people to appear to be going along with it. That has all changed now, with the successful lawsuit by a group of psychologist-analysts against the American Psychoanalytic Association for restraint of trade twenty-odd years ago.  Now psychologists are free to train wherever they like, with no waivers to sign.  Both before and after the lawsuit, though, Steve was one of a handful of prominent young psychologist-analysts who helped establish psychoanalytic training programs associated with Division 39 (the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association) all over the country.  Most of those programs are now thriving, at a time when the institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association, despite opening their doors wider, are increasingly moribund, with few candidates and an aging membership.
 
The future of psychoanalysis, I think, lies with relational and interpersonal psychoanalysis.  It is a wonderful thing to see these ideas spreading to countries other than my own!  Now the task for us at White and NYU Postdoc, and one day for you, too, is to avoid falling into the trap from which we escaped.  It is so easy to lose the spirit of revolution.  Time has an insidious way of creating complacency, and power and success can be so  distressingly attractive.  
 
The story of your disagreement with Steve, and its resolution, was very recognizable to me.  Steve didn’t have patience with those who didn’t want to talk seriously about their disagreements with him.  But he would talk endlessly with anyone who really wanted to have a conversation about their differences with him.  Under those circumstances, he was even enthusiastic about disagreements.  I think he felt he could learn from them.  In addition to his warmth, generosity, energy, and immense talent, Steve was a person of enormous integrity.
 
Thanks again for sending me your paper, and good luck to TAICP. 
 
Best regards,
 
Donnel B. Stern, PhD
 
Editor, Contemporary Psychoanalysis and “Psychoanalysis in a New Key” Book Series, The Analytic Press.
 
Faculty, Training, and Supervising Analyst, William Alanson White Institute; Faculty, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.
 
 

Dr. Lewis AronDr. Lewis Aron4/9/2005

Mitchell & Israel.

Mitchell & Israel:

Michael and Batya beautifully evoke Stephen Mitchell's spirit and energy as well as his capacity to stimulate and energize those with whom he had been in contact.   This brief document will be of historical significance for the future of Israeli psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.  Kol Hakavod!

I was with Steve just a few nights before his untimely and tragic death, on December, 21, 2000, when he and Margaret made their annual holiday party at their beautiful home in NYC.  Steve was worried and pained about several things that night and he shared with me his deep upset that the US supreme court had recently handed the presidential election to George Bush.  One of the other worries that he shared with me that night was for the future of the new Tel Aviv institute.  He had heard a rumor that Michael might not go on to be the director and this worried him terribly.  I tell this story just to highlight his good feelings for and his faith in Michael, and also to illustrate just how occupied his mind was with the new Tel Aviv Institute right up to his last days.

Michael and Batya end their article by focusing on the centrality of agency in Steve's thinking.  This seems absolutely right to me and I believe that the existential dimension of Steve's work is often unnoticed or underemphasized in commentaries and critiques of relational theory.  Michael and Batya accurately and appropriately place it at the very center of Steve's thinking.

Steve was much more than an innovative or even revolutionary psychoanalytic thinker, writer, and theorist.  He was an incredibly loving, devoted friend, and he extended himself to great lengths for those he cared about.  It was obvious to all that he cared deeply about the new Tel Aviv Institute and the future of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Israel.  He would undoubtedly be pleased with the great initial success of the institute.  May his memory be a blessing!

Lew.
 
Lewis Aron, ph.D
Director, Postdoctoral Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, NYU.
Co-editor in chief in The Analytic Press.
Co-author of a few books and articles with Stephen Mitchell.
Ex-president of Division 39, APA.

Prof. Joyce Slochower, PhD.Prof. Joyce Slochower, PhD.23/8/2005

A moving description, that is also a memorial.

Dear Michael,
 
You so evocatively described the birth and evolution of your institute. 
I find that you use great sensitivity as you locate your experience within the larger social-psychoanalytic context and give me an understanding of Israeli psychoanalysis. 
You also capture beautifully the experience of collaborating with Steve.  I know what this was like because he edited my first book for TAP. 
 
As I read your text I was reminded of what it was like to work with him, his openness to difference, his capacity to think outside the box. 
Thank you for this moving description that is also a memorial.
 
Warmly,
Joyce
 
-----------------------------------
Prof. Joyce Slochower, PhD.
NYU Post-Doc for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

עדי פריעדי פרי12/8/2005

תגובת נשיאת ה- IARPP פרופ' הייזל איפ (Dr. Hazel Ipp, president of IARPP).

Dear Batya and Michael,

I so appreciate you sending me the document written by you and your wife.  And what a document it is!!!  You have indeed captured so much of the essence of Steve - as a person, a thinker, a clinician, a mentor, a friend and an innovator par excellence.  The depth and complexity you bring to this writing is truly astounding. You have been able to combine history, thought, intimacy, interpersonal congruence, struggle and resolution in such a way as to have achieved an account filled with textured meaning, richness, a flair for complexity and profound wisdom.  

Given our similar histories in being inspired and assisted by Steve to set up an Institute in competition with the "only game in town", I can almost visualize the process you describe so well!!  Your clinical understanding of the absence of choice in terms of analytic training further highlights what we have historically struggled with. This will surely be a really meaningful part of the Introduction to Margaret's preface for their book that's being translated.

A big Bravo to both of you!!

Thank you for your offer to be of assistance in my planning a trip to Israel.  Gabi said a similar thing to me.  it has been far too long since I have been there and I would like to start planning something definite in the  near future.  Gila also talked about our two Institutes doing something together which has stirred excitement amongst those of us here who've talked about it.  Things to plan for, I hope.

Thank you very much again for thinking of me and sharing this very special document with me.

Please keep in touch.

Warm regards.

Hazel

 

Prof. Hazel Ipp, Ph.D

Supervising and training analyst

Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Toronto, Canada

President, International Association of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP)