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Greenson, Ralph (1911-1979)

GREENSON, RALPH (1911-1979)

Ralph Greenson, American psychoanalyst and physician, was born on September 20, 1911 in Brooklyn, New York, and died on November 24, 1979 in Los Angeles, California.

He was the eldest child (by ten minutes, as he was a twin) born to his physician father and pharmacist mother in Brooklyn. He completed his premedical studies at Columbia University and his medical training at the University of Bern (1930-1934) in Switzerland. In Switzerland he met Hildi Troesch; they married and had two children, Daniel and Joan.

In 1935 he began an analysis with Wilhelm Stekel and undertook analytic training in the Active Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna. Dissatisfied with the therapeutic effect of this work, he began "classical" training in Los Angeles in 1938 and had a personal analysis with Otto Fenichel. He held various positions in organized psychoanalysis, but mostly enjoyed teaching candidates, residents and medical students. He gave many public lectures which were very popular and well received. These were published in book form, as Loving, Hating, and Living Well (1993).

He published 65 articles in the psychoanalytic literature, almost all of which were clinically based. Thirty-two of these appear in his book Explorations in Psychoanalysis (1978). The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis (1967) is still considered a classic book on analytic technique. In addition to his books on technique, his major contribution to psychoanalysis involved his emphasis on aspects of analytic work: the working alliancethe "real" relationship with patient's empathy and counter-transference, apart from transference interpretations.

Daniel Greenson

See also: Abstinence/rule of abstinence; Boredom; Empathy; Identity; Silence; Technique with adults, psychoanalytic; Therapeutic alliance; Transference relationship.


Greenson, Ralph. (1965). The working alliance and the transference neurosis. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 34 p. 155-181.

. (1967). The technique and practice of psychoanalysis (Vol. 1). New York: International Universities Press.

. (1970). The exceptional position of the dream in psychoanalytic practice. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39, 519-549.

(1978). The "real" relationship between the patient and the psychoanalyst. In Explorations in Psychoanalysis (p. 425-440). New York: International Universities Press. (Original work published 1971)

(1978). Explorations in psychoanalysis. New York, International Universities Press.

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