Listening with the Third Ear: The Inner Experience of a Psychoanalyst

Listening with the Third Ear: The Inner Experience of a Psychoanalyst

Listening with the Third Ear: The Inner Experience of a Psychoanalyst

Listening with the Third Ear: The Inner Experience of a Psychoanalyst

Excerpt

In A psychoanalytic session the other day, I controlled the impulse to remark, "When I was five and twenty, I heard a wise man say..." A young man had come to consult me about two decisions that he had to make: should he follow a certain profession and ought he to marry a certain girl. Something in him or in his situation reminded me of myself at his age. He had just received his doctorate in psychology. I, too, had won my Ph.D. at this age and I was a student of Freud.

One evening I ran into the great man on his daily walk along the Ringstrasse in Vienna, and walked home with him. Friendly as always, he asked me about my plans and I told him of my problems, which resembled those of my present patient. Of course, I hoped Freud would give me advice or resolve my doubts.

"I can only tell you of my personal experience," he said. "When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of our personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature."

Without telling me what to do Freud had helped me make my own decision. Like marriage, the choice of a profession is a matter of destiny. We should welcome our destiny, readily accepting what comes with and out of it. On that evening thirty-five years ago when I decided to become a psychoanalyst, I married the profession for better or for worse.

Most middle-aged men, asked whether they have ever wished to . . .

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