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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Reply to discussants

This is a difficult topic for psychoanalysts. For one thing, most of us are not trained to think about larger social systems, such as organizations, much less professions. As Marylou Lionells notes, it is easy to feel unsure of our intellectual footing in this area. For another, we are in the midst of the topic we are trying to think about. This is always difficult, as we know from our clinical work. But it is doubly difficult in this case because there has been so much mystification in the discussions we have had on the topic of our professional identity - and so much anxiety. The discussants of my paper make it clear that they are by no means complacent defenders of the status quo. I am deeply heartened by their thoughtful responses, not only to my paper, but also to the many troubling issues we face collectively as psychoanalysts. I have the sense that more and more individuals are engaging this urgent task of probing our professional shortcomings and failures.