MY EXPERIENCES AS A
PATIENT IN FIVE
JESSE D. GELLER
I am currently 62 years old. I have become introspective again. I welcome reminiscing with old friends about the persons and events that have contributed significantly to our development. I approached writing this chapter about my experiences as a patient in five different psychoanalytic psychotherapies with hopes similar to the ones I bring to these intimate conversations. I was not disappointed. I took another look at what I learned about my symptoms, and my character pathology. Like my experiences in therapy, this effort yielded new self-discoveries. I will not dwell on these matters in this chapter; I have no interest in producing what Joyce Carol Oates (1999) would call an “exercise in pathography.”
I also retrospectively evaluated whether and how each of my therapies contributed to my growth as a therapist and as a human being. What I realized is that I have no settled opinions about these matters. My understanding of the ways I have changed over time keeps changing. Moreover, my current estimates of how much I have benefited, personally, from my various therapies is different, in some important respects, from the remembered estimates I took in my forties and fifties. If I had written this retrospective report during those decades, my estimates would have been biased in a more negative direction.
Still, I strongly believe that the illustrative experiences related here would have been the same ones I would have included if I had written this chapter earlier in my life. For me, they represent the decisive moments that took place in each of my therapies. Memories of these critical incidents are somehow emblematic of something that stood at the emotional center of