Now, of course, an analyst tries not to convey his attitude to the patient. An analyst will drop dead at a cocktail party before he admits that he ever directs a patient. But the fact is that they do. The analyst in most cases is a rebel who retreated, and that is a very uncomfortable position—very power-obsessed but with no vocational sanction to wield power.
So, truly, in many cases, the analyst is sitting in a hotter seat than the patient. And the patient suspects this but cannot bear to believe it. Mother-father-embodiment must be strong or there’s nothing left. Moreover, the super-sensitized relation of analyst-patient creates empathies, approaches to telepathy, and telepathy itself all the time. Like the wall of Mendes-France which was studied for six months and so became a ladder, the impassive face of the analyst or rather the impassive voice (for the analyst is seen usually only at the beginning and the end of the hour) reveals a whole gamut of reactions, and they are not all paranoid projections of the patient.
The ridiculous assumption under Freudian practice is that the patient should be alone in a room talking to a dummy, a wax dummy. If the analyst “dummy” were actually a dummy there might be some justification to saying that all the patient’s material and interpretation of the analyst was a projection, but given a human being no matter how determinedly impassive, the hyper-acute sensitivity and NEED of the patient penetrates the façade.
So, analyses are directed, and the analyst consciously and unconsciously, by his silences as much as his speeches, is constantly giving approval or disapproval. He believes he is taking, but his taking is the defense, the penance for his rebellious beginnings, and beware of ex-rebels who are penitents—nobody is more-directed. So, analyses go on, they go on interminably, the patients get better or they get worse, they deteriorate when the analyst expects success and vice versa, they also conform at times to the analyst’s expectation. The analysis is over and the analyst if he is honest has to wonder, “Just what the fuck did happen in there?” As indeed the patient wonders.
- French Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1954-55, Pierre Mendès France (1907-82), wrote an account of his 1941 escape from a Vichy prison, “Escape: How I Fled to Freedom,” in the December 24, 1954 issue of Collier’s.