If there is one principal mistake that psychoanalysis has made in the past 100 years, it is the way in which it has allowed itself to remain dissociated from the University and from academic life. This statement sounds hyperbolic, but I believe that our disconnection from the University has played a significant role in the schismatic tradition of psychoanalysis in the context of its parochial, doctrinaire, private institute structure. The troubled relation between psychoanalysis and the University goes back historically to Freud's problems with the Austrian medical school's system of academic advancement and to the anti-Semitism within the Ministry of Education in the 1890s. An often overlooked aspect of its early history is that the rise of psychoanalysis was carried out by a number of men (including Freud, but also Abraham, Jones, and Ferenczi) with unfulfilled academic ambitions. The psychoanalytic movement offered these people a framework outside of academia for doing research, scholarship, teaching, editing, creating journals, and acquiring organizational positions.
Freud argued that the psychoanalytic method had already contributed to "the solution of problems in art, philosophy, and religion." Psychoanalysis, he suggested, threw new light on the history of literature, mythology, civilization, and the philosophy of religion. "The fertilizing effects of psycho-analytic thought on these other disciplines would certainly contribute greatly toward forging a closer link, in the sense of a universitas literarum, between medical science and the branches of learning which lie within the sphere of philosophy and the arts."
The Values and Ideals of the NYU Postdoctoral Program
The N.Y.U. Postdoctoral Program ("Postdoc") was originally established to embody and continues to stand for a few key principles: academic freedom, psychoanalytic pluralism, a comparative approach to psychoanalytic theory, dialogue among the various psychoanalytic schools and traditions, respect for the student as a mature adult and accomplished scholar (all of our students or candidates have previously earned doctoral degrees), and interdisciplinary exchange. We in the "Postdoc community" have always believed that the best atmosphere in which to pursue these principles was in a University setting where there was an established tradition of intellectual inquiry, freedom of thought, conversation with other disciplines, and a commitment to research and unfettered exchange of knowledge and critical scholarship. Unlike the more common, free standing, psychoanalytic institutes, that have historically created a quasi-religious or cult-like tradition within psychoanalysis, a University provides opportunity for cross disciplinary exchange and guarantees freedom of thought and expression.
Curriculum and Candidate Participation
Candidates at Postdoc are free to learn from all faculty and all orientations as our faculty includes many of the leading and most creative thinkers in the psychoanalytic world. Candidates are encouraged to sample courses and supervisors from each of the orientations although they are free, if they so chose, to concentrate in any one of them. While receiving guidance about how to organize their curriculum, candidates may arrange a course of study that is thoroughly suited to their individual needs. Candidates are represented on many of the Program's Committees as well as on the Program's Senate, so that they may be exposed to faculty and graduates and may participate in Program governance from the beginning of their psychoanalytic education.
Candidates are expected to have a personal analysis as the foundation for psychoanalytic practice and are free to work with an analyst of their own choosing, not necessarily one from within the Postdoc community. We are committed to a principle of non-interference in the candidate's personal analysis and the candidate may chose to enter or continue in analysis with a graduate of any psychoanalytic training program, who has obtained at least five years of postgraduate experience.
Colloquia and Conferences
The Postdoctoral Program has an active and intellectually stimulating series of colloquia and annual conferences, many of which are inter-track, providing a lively and challenging opportunity for learning and exchange and exposing our candidates to the most current, cutting-edge thinking in the psychoanalytic world.
The Psychoanalytic Society
The Psychoanalytic Society is an organization made up of our faculty and graduates. Aside from running its own conferences, study groups, referral service, and special events, the Psychoanalytic Society provides a professional home once the candidate has completed training and become a graduate of the Program.
NYU Postdoc Programs
Are you a graduate student interested in psychoanalysis? Are you a post-doctoral level psychologist considering further training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis?
Explore our curricula, read about our proud history, read through the list of our world-famous faculty and supervisors, take in the range of topics in our seminars and colloquia, become acquainted with the range of our clinic services.
Please come and visit us, live and in-person, for one of our many colloquia and conferences that are open to the wide mental-health community.
Please feel free to contact our office by email with any questions or comments. I would be most happy to talk personally with anyone interested in our program or considering applying for advanced training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.
Lewis Aron, Ph.D., ABPP