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Friday October 20, 2017
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Ann Arbor on the Couch

 

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Etta Saxe earned her PhD in psychology at the U-M in 1965 and went on to study psychoanalysis with disciples of Sigmund Freud. She was a therapist at the Detroit Psychiatric Institute and was the first female president of the Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (MSPP). Yet she could never legally call herself a psychoanalyst--because she wasn't a medical doctor.

For most of the twentieth century, physicians controlled psychoanalysis in America. Because she lacked an MD, Saxe's training was dismissed as "bootlegged." Her mentors, Richard and Editha Sterba, both trained at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute--but only Richard, who was also a physician, could legally call himself a psychoanalyst after they fled to the U.S. in 1938.

In the Viennese tradition, Richard Sterba continued to train non-physicians to do analysis. In 1953, the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) retaliated by stripping him of his teaching credentials and disaccrediting the institute he headed.

"It's an old trauma that's never been healed," says Jim Hansell. The conflict over who can learn psychoanalysis--and who can teach it--explains why two separate groups offer analytic training locally: the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute (MPI), where Hansell is a training analyst, and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council (MPC). Local analyst Murray Meisels, a founding member of MPC, calls the groups' relationship "separate but hostile."

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