Psychoanalysis in My Life: An Intellectual Memoir

by Murray M. Schwartz, PhD

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:


But I, entelechy, form of forms, am I by memory because under ever-changing forms.

—James Joyce, Ulysses

Two distincts, division none.

—Shakespeare, “The Phoenix and the Turtle”

Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.

—Hamlet, III.ii.194

My “intellectual autobiography” can be imagined as two sets of three overlapping circles. The first set of circles consists of activities: teaching, academic administration, and writing. The second set consists of three intellectual preoccupations: psychoanalysis, literature, especially Shakespeare, and the Holocaust. Each set is implicated in the other, and all six circles are in motion, their interplay and interaction varying from time to time and place to place, more like Ptolemy than Copernicus.

This abstract scheme is my guide to memory. I hope that the meanings of the circles will become clearer as I tell my story.

I Beginnings

In 1942, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I was born into a working-class Sephardic Jewish family. I have a visceral memory of the resounding percussions of the 16” battleship guns practicing in New York harbor during the Second World War. Less than two years later, my father, a skilled carpenter and welder during the Depression, enlisted in the Navy.<…>

American Imago, 75(2): 125-152, 2018.

Link to Online Publication (fulltext can also be requested from the library).

About the Author:

Murray Schwartz has taught Shakespeare, psychoanalysis, and Holocaust literature for over fifty years. His writing spans a wide range of interdisciplinary interests and includes essays on Shakespeare’s last plays, the work of Erik Erikson, applied psychoanalysis, modern poetry, and trauma studies. He has co-edited several anthologies, including Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays (1980) and Memory and Desire: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Aging (1985). He and Peggy Schwartz wrote The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus (2011). He was President of the PsyArt Foundation and edited the online journal PsyArt from 2000 to 2012. He was a Dean or Provost with various universities for twenty-five years. A Professor Emeritus at Emerson College, he is an Affiliate Scholar Member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, where he is Coordinator of the Center for Multi-Disciplinary Psychoanalytic Studies (COMPASS).

Previous Posts:

Rodrigo Barahona, PsyaD (2018). Book Review of “Psychoanalytic Technique: Contributions from Ego Psychology” (Técnica Psicoanalítica: Aportaciones de la Psicología del Yo) By Cecilio Paniagua. Madrid: Editorial Tébar Flores, 2014. 426 pp. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(2): 369-379.

Michael Robbins, MD (2018). The Primary Process: Freud’s Profound Yet Neglected Contribution to the Psychology of Consciousness. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 38(3):186-197.

Mark Schechter, MD; Benjamin Herbstman, MD; Elsa Ronningstam, PhD; Mark Goldblatt, MD. (2018). Emerging Adults, Identity Development, and Suicidality: Implications for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:20-39, 2018.

Anton O. Kris, MD (2018). “Love’s Not Time’s Fool”: Some Continuities, Discontinuities, and Alterations in Psychoanalysis During My Lifetime. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:123-129, 2018.

Andrea Celenza, PhD (2017). Lessons On or About the Couch: What Sexual Boundary Transgressions Can Teach Us About Everyday Practice. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34(2), 157-162.

Judy L. Kantrowitz, PhD (2017). Reflections on Mortality: A Patient Faces Death. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 65(4):673-686.

Ellen Pinsky, PsyD (2018). Mortality, Integrity, and Psychoanalysis (Who Are You to Me? Who Am I to You?). In Flirting with Death: Psychoanalysts Consider Mortality, edited by Corinne Masur. London and New York, Routledge, 2018, Chapter 8, p. 141-157.

Cordelia Schmidt-Hellerau, PhD (2018). La résolution par l’intégration: Une invitation à reconsidérer la théorie des pulsions (Resolution by Integration: An Invitation to Reconsider Drive Theory and a discussion with Michel Ody). Revue française de psychanalyse, 82/1: 179-197.

Alfred Margulies, MD (2018). Illusionment and Disillusionment: Foundational Illusions and the Loss of a World. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 66/2: 289–303.

Nancy J. Chodorow, PhD (2018). Love, Respect, and Being Centered Upon: Loewald’s Image of Development in Childhood and the Consulting RoomThe Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71/1: 224-233.

Click here to see a full archive of featured papers. All articles can be requested from the library.