Lipton’s Journal/January 26, 1955/276

From Project Mailer

I have noticed in analytic case studies that there is the recurring phenomenon of a period of early euphoria. Most analysts including Bob[1] consider this as a general feeling of relief now that ventilation has been achieved. And nearly all analysts proceed to talk of the problems which follow next, the depressions and anxieties which come back, the plateaus, the “hangings.”

I wonder if this is not due to the fact that psychoanalysis is S-oriented. I have the feeling that my present euphoria is more than just ventilation. I may retreat of course because it is frightening. I may suffer all of the above setbacks, but I wonder: I am analyzing myself in order to become a real rebel, not just an adjusted rebel. (Notice the just in adjusted.) And so I have the confidence that my self-analysis may be less painful and that the euphoria may not be lost entirely. What I suspect is that in most analyses, the initial successes (whether they come in the first two weeks or only after three years) are the genuine thing, the S is weakened, the H is encouraged. But afterward, the analyst locked in his S-concepts, begins—whether he realized it or not—to fight the H and encourage the S.

No wonder the patient gets so balky and suffers so much. The patient has been given a glimpse of heaven only to have papa take it away again. Returned to the sensuous wisdom of childhood the analysand is required to grow up again, to become the loud conceited individual full of projects and plans with no more promised than the adjusted maturity, the world of S. Of course analysis is feeling its panic.

The world of S is the world of the atom bomb. Society is destruction. Everybody knows it today. Just as the F.B.I. is losing its grip because it is being flooded with sensitivity, so analysis is approaching a crisis and rebel-analysts like Bob are popping up all over the place. In the very madness of a Bergler[2] is the exacerbated desperation of what is really a very sensitive man.


  1. A prominent Baltimore psychoanalyst and writer, Robert Lindner (1914 – 1956) became acquainted with Mailer after reading Lindner’s 1952 sharp critique of current psychoanalytic practice, Prescription for Rebellion (1952), published by Mailer’s publisher, Rinehart. The letter, which contained both praise and criticism for Lindner’s ideas, led to a close friendship over the next four years, including many visits and the sharing of work, including Lipton’s. See extended note on entry 56.
  2. An Austrian psychoanalyst and early follower of Freud, Edmund Bergler (1899-1962) focused on masochism and homosexuality in his many books and articles. He believed homosexuality was a neurosis that could be cured, and saw homosexuals as unscrupulous psychic masochists. Bergler is Mailer’s whipping boy in Lipton’s.