Lipton’s Journal/December 8, 1954/43

From Project Mailer

Talk with Rhoda L.[1] We agreed that psychoanalysts are perhaps the greatest socially accepted psychopaths. The thing which characterizes the twentieth century is its absolute lack of common-sense, common-sense being finally the matter-of-fact understanding of a society (which is of course bad), but also is understandable. It is worldly sense, but worldly sense is no longer enough because the communication between individuals and society, the interrelation, is now broken. Society goes one way; men go another—but privately.

So, the lack-of-sense of the twentieth century would never dream of asking what the common-sense of the 19thy century (as exemplified by my mother) would question immediately: “How can a man listen to another human being and be both completely involved and attentive, and yet personally unmoved, capable of shifting his attention in the next hour to some other human and performing the same involvement and detachment?” The answer is that only a saint or a psychopath could do this. And since saints are not interested in their position in the world, which analysts most assuredly are, the answer I suspect with the most perfect glee is that the psychoanalyst is a psychopath masquerading as a quiet restrained “sensitive” mildly neurotic, middle-class-adjusted human being. No wonder they get nowhere.


  1. Lifelong friend of Mailer’s sister Barbara, Rhoda Lazare (b. 1926) was introduced to her husband, Daniel Wolf, by Mailer.