The Analyst's Early Experiences: Emerging Themes in Theory and Practice with Karen Maroda, PhD

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"We are chosen [as children] for the roles of peacekeeper, soother, and possibly entertainer at times, because we temperamentally have been gifted with a certain degree of empathy, sensitivity, and psychological mindedness that was not true of our siblings. There is a reason why we’ve been chosen, and it is because of our innate abilities. Those innate abilities, of course, make for a fit with our chosen occupation. We start out as these empathic sensitive children who truly do not want to see our family members in pain and have a desire to take that pain away."

Episode Description: We begin with the recognition that psychoanalysts share certain character traits that incline us towards the work we do. Often, wishing to heal our patients is mapped onto our early templates of wishing to heal our parents. Karen describes her own relationship with her mother which she feels contributed to her becoming a psychoanalyst. With that as a basis, we discuss therapists' tendencies towards self-sacrifice and its relation to masochism. We consider the ubiquity of analyst gratifications and the excessive cautions around acknowledging them. We discuss the importance of dealing with interpersonal conflicts in the clinical setting and how that is in contradistinction to a treatment model of mother-infant attunement. We conclude with her consideration that enactments are preceded by repressed negative counter-transference, the awareness of which can deepen the therapeutic moment.

Our Guest: Karen J. Maroda, Ph.D., ABBP, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at, the Medical College of Wisconsin and in private practice in Milwaukee, WI. She is board certified in psychoanalysis by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis. The author of four books, The Power of Countertransference, Seduction, Surrender and Transformation, Psychodynamic Techniques, and The Analyst’s Vulnerability, as well as numerous journal articles and book reviews. She also sits on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Psychology and Contemporary Psychoanalysis. She gives lectures and workshops both nationally and internationally.

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