Training Analysis

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The training analysis is the personal course of psychoanalytical treatment that every psychoanalyst must undergo with a certified analyst prior to, or in parallel with, his or her theoretical training, and before beginning to practice.

As late as 1909, Freud's answer to the hypothetical question "How can one become a psycho-analyst?" was still: "by studying one's own dreams" (1910a, p. 33). This was a shibboleth that he mentioned several times, but by the following year he widened the requirements: "no psycho-analyst goes further than his own complexes and internal resistances permit; and we consequently require that he shall begin his activity with a self-analysis and continually carry it deeper while he is making his observations on his patients. Anyone who fails to produce results in a self-analysis of this kind may at once give up any idea of being able to treat patients by analysis" (1910d, p. 145). Freud continued to use the term Selbstanalyse (self-analysis, or analysis of oneself) to include the procedure of being analyzed by a senior and more experienced person; Max Eitingon's analysis with Freud (1909-1909), conducted during evening strolls on the Ring, was the first instance of a training analysis. Freud later considered it "one of the many merits of the Zurich school of analysis that they have laid increased emphasis on this requirement, and have embodied it in the demand that everyone who wishes to carry out analyses on other people shall first himself undergo an analysis by someone with expert knowledge" (1912e, p. 116).

In 1918, with Freud's agreement, Hermann Nunberg proposed at the Fifth Congress of the International Psycho-Analytical Association that training analysis be made obligatory. Otto Rank and Viktor Tausk were opposed. The rule became official only in 1926. Rank and Sándor Ferenczi (1923/1925) made it clear, however, that "the correct didactic analysis is one that does not in the least differ from the curative treatment"; nor, in their view, should it be confined to physicians.

Ferenczi described the necessity for training analysis as "the second fundamental rule of psycho-analysis" (1928/1955, pp. 88-89). The adoption of the principle by the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) was the result, chiefly, of the efforts of Eitingon and of the initiative of the Berlin Institute, which had set up a training protocol as early as 1920. The training analysis was a cornerstone of that protocol, and Hanns Sachs was one of the first official training analysts.

Writing to Franz Alexander on May 13, 1928, Freud once again raised the bar: "One ought to demand guarantees from the candidates which are not necessary with patients, since regular analytic work has deleterious effects on one's psyche just as work with Roentgen rays has on one's tissues; it needs to be countered by steady hard work" (Jones, p. 478). A few years later, at a time when the received wisdom was to extend analysis to the limit, Freud even suggested that "Every analyst should periodicallyat intervals of five years or sosubmit himself to analysis once more, without feeling ashamed of taking this step" (1937c, p. 249).

During the years when psychoanalysis was expanding, thanks both to the dispersal ofémigrés in flight from Nazism and to the strengthening of the movement's institutions, training analysis became the subject of innumerable papers, reports, and debates, and the rules governing it were continually changing. A letter from Rudolph Loewenstein to Marie Bonaparte dated February 22, 1953, is eloquent on the prevailing norms: "Here [in New York], as in the American Association, there is a rule requiring training analysis to be conducted on the basis of at least four sessions per week, of between three-quarters of an hour and fifty-five minutes in length. Even the people in Chicago support this. The worst, though, are the Washington lot."

Regulations of this sort were at the root and core of a good many splits in the psychoanalytic movement, notably in France in 1953 and 1963, where Jacques Lacan's short sessions and his relationship with his analysands were challenged by the IPA authorities, who eventually barred him as a training analyst. Lacan retaliated by decreeing in the founding statement of hisÉcole freudienne de Paris that training analysis was the purest form of analysis, and by proposing (October 9, 1967) the institution of the system of induction of analysts that he called "la passe."

Critics of required training analyses variously underscore the antithesis between a professional project and the request for a personal analysis, the possibility of external rivalries corrupting the transference and/or counter-transference in such analyses, the hierarchical medical model implied by the title of training analyst, and even the danger of creating a "restricted transference zone" (Stein). There has been a tendency for the term training analysis to fade from use in training programs: the Paris Psychoanalytical Society, for example, under the influence of Sacha Nacht, prohibited any participation of a candidate's analyst in his or her training. The function of the training analyst, however, has shown remarkable staying power, and the international guidelines that the IPA's member societies are bound by in this connection are still the object of much debate and negotiation. Each group strives by its own lights to settle on what Freud called "the training most suitable for an analyst" (1926e, p. 252), but the necessity of a preparatory personal analysis is universally acknowledged. Under what conditions, and with whom, are still open questions.

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Association psychanalytique de France; Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut; Berliner Psychoanalytische Poliklinik; Cure; Development of Psycho-Analysis ;École freudienne de Paris; Eitingon, Max; Fourth analysis; France; International Psychoanalytic Association; Lay analysis; Psychoanalytic filiations; Pass, the; Psychoanalyst; Quatrième groupe (O.P.L.F.), Fourth group; Real, the (Lacan); "Recommendations to Physicians Practicing Psychoanalysis"; Société française de psychanalyse; Société psychanalytique de Paris and Institut de psychanalyse de Paris; Training of the psychoanalyst; United States.


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Ferenczi, Sándor, and Rank, Otto. (1925). The development of psycho-analysis (Caroline Weston, Trans.). New York and Washington: Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing. (Original work published 1923)

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Jones, Ernest. (1957). Sigmund Freud: Life and work. London: Hogarth.

Mannoni, Maud. (1970). Le psychiatrie, son fou et la psychanalyse. Paris: Seuil.

Stein, Conrad. (1972). Notes relatives au statut scientifique et au statut social de la psychanalyse.Études freudiennes, 5-6. (Original work published 1968)