In Short: Private Notes of a Psychoanalyst

Author(s) : Salman Akhtar

In Short: Private Notes of a Psychoanalyst

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : February 2024
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 172
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 97493
  • ISBN 13 : 9781800132467
  • ISBN 10 : 1800132468
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In Short: Private Notes of a Psychoanalyst is wise, uplifting and inspiring. Salman Akhtar brings his talent for poetic literature to gift us 111 pithy ‘proto essays’ on a wide range of subjects. His meditations touch upon mental health, humor, death, animals, Freud, religion, children, and so much more. He imparts his advice with the lightest of touches, willing you to partake, consider, and refine his offerings. His aim: to further the cause and message of his beloved psychoanalysis.

This is the perfect little book to dip into and galvanize your thoughts. Was Bion Hindu? What happens at psychoanalysts’ funerals? Which form of racism is worse? Dr. Akhtar gives his reflections but what are yours? Divided into four parts with four Ps – Preparation, Principles, Practice, Profession – you’ll want to return to this book again and again.

Reviews and Endorsements

No one writes better than Professor Salman Akhtar. I simply could not put this book down, having read it with much pleasure in only one sitting. Sigmund Freud would have been extremely proud that Professor Akhtar has devoted himself with such warmth and such intelligence to our profession.
Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Fellow, Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, London, and Honorary Director of Research at the Freud Museum London, as well as Chair of the Scholars Committee of the British Psychoanalytic Council; author of Hidden Histories of British Psychoanalysis

Salman Akhtar distils his decades of clinical practice into pithy and poetic reflections on psychoanalytic theory and practice. His book, In Short, is a rare gem offering a thoughtful and provocative inquiry in both the prosaic and the profound facets of our profession.
Joan Wheelis, MD, Training and Supervising Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Institute; author of The Known, The Secret, and The Forgotten

Table of Contents


Part I
1. Reading Freud
2. Three ‘must read’ papers by Ferenczi
3. Children, animals, and poetry
4. Alternate professions
5. Life style requirements
6. Silent sacrifices
7. Seeking diverse supervision
8. Setting up an office
9. A mysterious rug
10. Entering a world of ambiguity
11. Reading, reading and reading
12. Borrowed faith

Part II
13. Mental health vs. mental illness
14. A mentally healthy person
15. Half-sane, half-insane
16. Happy and unhappy children
17. Peek-a-boo
18. Hunger, vision, and the rhythms of nature
19. Learning from children
20. The non-human envelope
21. Toy shops are not for kids
22. Spirituality vs. religion
23. Sex–aggression–sex
24. Metapsychology
25. Two major updates on metapsychology
26. ‘Bad’ death instinct, ‘good’ death instinct
27. Six misunderstandings about death in psychoanalysis
28. Three reactions to separation
29. Two griefs that last a lifetime
30. What happens to the deceased’s possessions?
31. A crowded preconscious
32. Receiving vs. taking
33. Reaction formation and undoing
34. Even Unabomber …
35. Double-bind
36. The unknown, the unmet, and the unlived
37. Where does an aborted childhood go?
38. Being emotional vs. being sentimental
39. Feeling ‘at home’
40. Who should change?
41. Toxic nobility
42. Basic trust, earned trust, and mutual trust
43. Good enough revenge
44. Where the ego was …
45. Two ‘great crimes’
46. Detachment theory

Part III
47. Who picks the day and time for the first appointment
48. Abstinence
49. Safeguarding the sacred nature of the clinical space
50. Restroom
51. Where is Rome?
52. Hearing is essential for listening
53. Floating couch
54. Does the analyst’s gender matter?
55. No ‘correct’ way of laying on the couch
56. Handling patients’ questions
57. Doodling etc.
58. Addressing the analyst by his/her professional title
59. Not asking about actual sex
60. Before and after
61. About defecation and feces
62. Diminishing frequency of sessions
63. Chronic lateness
64. The use of a deliberately wrong interpretation
65. Small gifts given by immigrant patients
66. Refusing to listen to certain kinds of material
67. Being special
68. Pleasure and mental illness
69. ‘Insane chemistry’
70. Demystification
71. Imaginary interlocutors
72. When not to give the bill to a patient?
73. Humility
74. Which form of racism is worse?
75. Masochistic funnel
76. The novelist and the poet
77. Analyst’s boredom
78. Analyst’s financial status
79. Where does the analyst look?
80. Insight addiction
81. Three different outcomes
82. Why not this at the end?
83. The fate of the analyst’s bills
84. Uttering an adult patient’s first name
85. Procrastination and nail biting
86. Stillness
87. Cats, not dogs
88. Countertransference sublimation
89. Financial extremes

Part IV
90. The second beard
91. Psychiatry and psychoanalysis
92. Do we need a prefix to ‘psychoanalysis’?
93. Jewish psychoanalysis, Christian psychoanalysis
94. Pauses
95. Writers and non-writers
96. Analysts’ memoirs
97. Was Bion Hindu?
98. PEP vetting
99. Age-specific writing
100. The ‘domestication’ of wild analysis
101. Childless child analysts
102. Three tips for supervisors
103. Non-analyst friends
104. The future of psychoanalysis
105. Blood killing
106. Un-associated and un-affiliated
107. The analyst’s funeral
108. Analysts turned gurus
109. Taboos
110. The analyst’s dog
111. Alternate pathways

About the author
Name index

About the Author(s)

Salman Akhtar, MD, was born in India and completed his medical and psychiatric education there. Upon arriving in the USA in 1973, he repeated his psychiatric training at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and then obtained psychoanalytic training from the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute. Currently, he is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. He has authored, edited or co-edited more than 300 publications including books on psychiatry and psychoanalysis and several collections of poetry. He is also a Scholar-in-Residence at the Inter-Act Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Salman Akhtar received the Sigourney Award in 2012.

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