The Healer's Bent
Solitude and Dialogue in the Clinical Encounter
Introduction by William T. Cornell
Routledge – 2005 – 256 pages
Over the course of a 50-year career, James T. McLaughlin has sought to open the playing field of psychoanalytic exploration by treating unconscious processes as the very material from which we fashion meaningful lives. His unique, iconoclastic perspective, which challenged the conventions of his time and professional milieu, not only engages the creative tension between the stance of the analyst and the stance of the healer, but also contains striking intimations of contemporary relational and interpersonal models of psychoanalytic treatment. The Healer's Bent, which thematically integrates published and unpublished papers and contains three chapters of heretofore unpublished autobiographical reflection, bridges analytic practice and other psychotherapeutic modalities. It will make McLaughlin's distinct approach to clinical theory and practice widely available to a broad and receptive readership.
"James McLaughlin has the rare gift of being able to write with unusual grace and unaffected vulnerability about the truly human elements in the therapeutic encounter. This brilliant compilation of rich, penetrating, and highly personal papers welcomes fellow travelers into the heart and mind of a profoundly humane psychoanalyst and leaves them feeling less alone in their own elusive pursuits. The Healer's Bent is a powerfully illuminating and deeply touching chef-d'oeuvre that will surely become a classic in the field."
- Martha Stark, M.D., Harvard Medical School
“This memoir of the journey of a modern Diogenes seeking psychotherapeutic understanding is a scientific tale driven by the desire to heal, shaped by relentless psychological curiosity, and expressed in the poetic words of an Irish bard. With ruthless personal honesty, McLaughlin shows us psychoanalysis as a form of liberating inquiry into both body and soul. Here passion and precision are one. The reader not only learns but also shares in the experience of curiosity put into action. The result is a pleasure and a gift.”
- Warren S. Poland, M.D., Author, Melting the Darkness
“Dr. James McLaughlin’s collected papers offer a rare perspective on the growth and transformation of a dedicated therapist. His deep compassion, combined with his keen intellect, served him well in his journey to know both himself and his patients. This volume offers the reader a rare glimpse into the heart and mind of one of America’s most brilliant analytic thinkers.”
- Karen Maroda, Ph.D., Author, Seduction, Surrender, and Transformation (Analytic Press, 1999)
"For thirty years James McLaughlin has been writing a series of thought-provoking, often challenging papers that, in addition to being highly stimulating, are works of prose poetry; papers that, written in Jim's distinctive, Irish-tinged voice and peppered with flights of imaginative imagery, mark him as the most original, free-spirited, and leprechaunish of our authors. In his detailed descriptions of analytic hours, Jim brings to life, as few can, the essence of the analytic situation."
- Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D., in JAPA, 54.4, 2006
"[Mclaughlin's] journey and evolving point of view are etched clearly on the pages. The reader has the sense of being in the presence of a very thoughtful, sincere person who has earnestly tried to do his very best. Although I myself did not know him personally, I feel confident that he would strike anyone who met him as a genuinely fine person."
- Harriet Basseches, Ph.D., Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, Winter 2008
"Throughout his writings, one has a sense of the deeply personal involvement he has with his patients and the focus of his clinical concern on the relationship and interaction evolving between analyst and patient as the analytic process works itself out. the present volume makes these connections much more apparent and explicit, so that readers will have a unique opportunity to study how these processes came to intersect in the development and clinical thinking of at least one gifted and thoughtful analytic clinician."
- W.W. Meissner, S.J., M.D., in Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Summer 2007)
I. Deep in the Shed: An Analyst's Mind at Work - William F. Cornell
1. To the Reader
2. What Was Brought
3. What Was Taught
4. Transference, Psychic Realty, and Countertransference
II. What Was Wrought: Self Analysis
5. Looking Back at an Early Case Failure: What There Was Yet to Learn
6. The Analyst's Insights
7. Is Self-analysis Possible?
III. What Was Sought: Nonverbal Communication
8. The Play of Transference: Some Reflections on Enactment in the Psychoanalytic Situation
9. The Search for Meaning in the Unsaid Seen
10. Touching Limits in the Analytic Dyad
IV. What Was Thought: The Dialectics of Influence
11. Dumb, Blind, and Hard: Can an Analyst Change His Spots?
12. Through the Glass Darkly: On Influencing and Being Influenced