The Sort of Person Who Becomes an Analyst?

Posted July 4, 2017 1:29 am by Steve Roney

The Sort of Person Who Becomes an Analyst?
Ernest Jones

My friend, who believes in psychoanalysis, volunteers some troubling examples of local psychiatrists who have gone wrong:

Dr. Ernest Jones, once head of psychiatry for the Toronto Asylum, and Freud’s chief Anglophone disciple: Wikipedia notes that, earlier, in London,

In 1906 he was arrested and charged with two counts of indecent assault on two adolescent girls whom he had interviewed in his capacity as an inspector of schools for “mentally defective” children. At the court hearing Jones maintained his innocence, claiming the girls were fantasising about any inappropriate actions by him.

A second charge of sexual impropritey towards a minor patient under his control, according to my friend, is why he emigrated to the colonies.

But all did not turn out well here either.

… In May 1913, … Ernest Jones was asked by the U of T president to resign. Jones had been recently accused of sexual impropriety by one of his patients…

Never convicted of anything, to be fair. But this was the founder of psychoanalysis in the English-speaking world.

Being close to the psychiatric world in Toronto, my friend is aware of other incidents of the sort.

And then in 1992, Alan Parkin, who introduced psychoanalysis to Toronto in the 1950s and identified with Ernest Jones’ pioneering spirit, was stripped of his medical license for sexually seducing several of his female patients.

in 1986, the son of Lea Hindley-Smith, the founder of Therafields, a local psychiatric experiment in community living, was jailed for the sexual abuse of two teenaged girls in an alternative school that catered to the children of members of Therafields.

In 2009, Samuel Malcolmson, the former clinical director of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre (formerly the Toronto Asylum, now CAMH), was convicted of the sexual abuse of a patient.

Hmm… there seems to be a pattern, doesn’t there?

Has anyone done a study? These are pretty prominent cases. What percentage of working psychiatrists are actually caught molesting or taking sexual advantage of their patients? “Psychiatrists who molested patients” gets over a million hits on Google.

It stands to reason. By the nature of the job, the psychiatric profession is going to attract bullies, abusers, and manipulators. The patient is utterly vulnerable, completely under their control, pre-screened as a trained victim. If they complain, hell, who’s going to believe them? Their parents have already betrayed them. That’s why they’re suffering PTSD. And they’re mad, aren’t they?

Accordingly, going to a psychotherapist is frightfully likely to be the worst thing possible for anyone who has already experienced systematic abuse in their childhood. Which is to say, for anyone likely to be going to a therapist.

Granted, not all psychotherapists will be bullies, manipulators, or abusers. Some will just be naive and perhaps a bit thick. But it will be the classic type.

You will say, of course, gentle reader, that Catholic priests have commonly been found doing the same thing, fingering the merchandise. Yes, but mostly in the press and in the lynch mob: surveys show that such behaviour is no more common among Catholic priests than among clergy of other denominations, and, if I recall correctly, less than among the general public. It is just that it is shocking when it comes from a priest: man bites dog.

And, other then the likelihood that people will consider them above suspicion, there is really nothing in the work of a priest that makes the job of any special value to bullies, pedophiles or psychopaths.

You don’t get to order anybody around. You don’t get to be alone for extended periods with anyone vulnerable. You are under obedience, not left unsupervised. Even the construction of the Catholic confessional ensures a certain formality, anonymity, and no physical contact.

Not so for analysts.

Why don’t we hear about it more?  Psychiatrists have a lot more money and social standing than priests. This probably protects the profession from greater scrutiny.

But hell will be paid.

“Transference” sounds to me like an alibi. The transference is the analysis; or rather, the counter-transference is the analysis. The transference is really a counter-counter-transference. And it predictably makes everything worse.

Ernest Jones described himself, according to my friend, as “opinionated, tactless, conceited and inconsiderate.”

This is the character type I would expect to become an analyst: someone inordinately full of him or herself. The fact that Jones says it himself perhaps makes it less likely to be true, and is to his credit, but those last two characteristics are obviously sinister in this context.

It takes a lot of investment in yourself to become a medical doctor, and then a psychiatrist. The social prestige of the M.D. is huge. You make a lot of money doing it. You get to act God-like towards your patients; your innate superiority is assumed as the basis of the analysis. You get to probe into their most intimate thoughts.

It is all pretty much perfectly tailored to ensure that analysts will be Laius types, self-centred, the very sort who, as parents, abuse their children.

Now they get to abuse patients full-time in the same way.

And the patients are probably dead right to see their parent’s characteristic behaviours and attitudes in the psychiatrist. As, reputedly, they invariably do.

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