New book review of my book! Read it here.
This essay is a response to a paper by Janna Sandmeyer which received the Ralph Roughton award. Sandemeyer examines Jule Miller’s 1985 article, ”How Kohut actually worked,” in which Miller describes Kohut’s supervision of his work with a patient struggling with issues of homosexuality. I expand on Sandmeyer’s comments on the heteronormativity and homophobia in Miller´s case description and make observations about the quality of the supervisory relationship between Miller and Kohut. I argue that this treatment was in reality reparative therapy and should be named as such. I posit a parallel to the conversion therapist David Matheson, who recently came out as gay, and suggest that if I am right, Miller and Kohut deserve our compassion. But to grieve and move beyond our crimes of the past, we also need to hold them, and our whole field, accountable. While acknowledging and admiring Sandmeyer´s important contributions to the exploration of heteronormativity and homophobia, I submit that the first step to empowerment and forgiveness is to call a reparative therapy what it was.
This article, while unsympathetic to Donald Trump, critiques the frequent tone of moral omnipotence and narcissistic display of good-heartedness in much current political discourse in the American psychoanalytic community. The author argues, from the perspective of a Scandinavian psychoanalyst, that the United States violated basic human rights long before the Trump era, and that the problems with the Trump era lie on a continuum with what came before, rather than suddenly crossing an unacceptable line. It suggests that there are dangers in seeing a bad other, rather than exploring our own dominant behavior. Invoking Akhtar ́s term “beguiling generosity,” the author cites studies of “moral self-licensing” that suggest that, paradoxically, people who commit a self-consciously ethical act tend to feel free to behave unethically afterward. It explores some dangers in taking satisfaction for being the good, critical anti-Trump voice.
I got the Erikson Scholar position at Austen Riggs for Spring 2020 to write my next book! What an honor! (Relax, I won’t leave the Arctic for good, just a few months.)