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Wearing My Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories

Wearing My Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories: Learning Psychodynamic Concepts from Life

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Wearing My Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories
    Book Description:

    There couldn't be a more appropriate method for illustrating the dynamics of psychoanalysis than the vehicle of story. In this book, Kerry L. Malawista, Anne J. Adelman, and Catherine L. Anderson share amusing, poignant, and sometimes difficult stories from their personal and professional lives, inviting readers to explore the complex underpinnings of the psychoanalytic profession and its esoteric theories. Through their narratives, these practicing analysts show how to incorporate psychodynamic concepts and identify common truths at the root of shared experience. Their approach demystifies dense material and the emotional consequences of deep clinical work. The book covers psychodynamic theory, the development of ideas, various techniques, the challenges of treatment, and the experiences of trauma and loss. Each section begins with a brief memoir by one of the authors and leads into a discussion of related concepts. Overall the text follows a developmental trajectory, opening with stories from early childhood and concluding with present encounters. The result is a unique approach enabling the absorption of psychodynamic concepts as they unfold across the life span.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52531-2
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xx)
    Kerry Malawista

    Think back to your own education. You may remember a poignant story told by a professor, perhaps with humor or emotion, that has remained with you long after the lengthy lectures on various theories, facts, and figures have slipped away. Recalling my own education, I remember drifting away during long academic seminars on complicated concepts that even seasoned clinicians still debate today. Once I began teaching in a clinical program, I was discouraged by the paucity of materials that could fully engage my students’ minds and imaginations. It became a challenge to find a creative approach that would bring to...

  5. Part One: Theory

    • 1 POPPED
      (pp. 3-8)

      The memory, my first, is crystal clear. I’m two and a half years old. It’s early summer, and my forehead is damp with sweat. Elated, I am prancing around the living room in a bathing suit, a yellow tube in the shape of a horse snug around my waist. The horse’s face is black and smiles mischievously. I sashay through the living room. My five-year-old sister Sophie scowls at me. A limp paisley apron sags around her middle, her new gift from “Grandma-Up-the-Hill.” The more I prance, the angrier Sophie becomes. I got the horse, but all she got from...

    • 2 PLAY WITH ME
      (pp. 9-18)

      April was two years old when we moved to a suburb right outside of Washington, D.C. I was several months pregnant with our second child. With my husband tying up loose ends at his old job, the move took place in stages. I was at the helm, charged with the task of settling us into our new life.

      Every week April and I drove several hours to our new home to start the process of putting down new roots. The trip was exhausting, and at times waves of fatigue would overcome me. We slept on mattresses on the floor, surrounded...

      (pp. 19-29)

      As a first grader at St. Matthew’s, I loved grilled cheese sandwiches, Campbell’s tomato soup, Barbie dolls, and Twister. I spent afternoons building forts and playing doctor. At night, I lay in bed worrying about whether I was going to go to heaven.

      Like many little girls in Catholic school during the 1960s, I thought a lot about nuns. To me, they were mysterious, looming figures, wrapped from head to toe in black fabric no matter the weather—women in wimples who wore the most sensible, ugly shoes any girl could imagine. I wondered, what are those outfits hinding? Do...

      (pp. 30-39)

      I was eight years old when my parents decided to buy a new couch. My family didn’t buy furniture very often. My parents owned a small business and worked long, hard hours. We lived in a modest apartment near their store and owned a house in what we called “the country,” an hour out of town. The house was furnished with cast-offs, but it was cozy, and it fulfilled my immigrant father’s dream of having a garden with a majestic view of mountains in the distance.

      The couch in our house was old and ugly, but I loved its welcoming...

      (pp. 40-46)

      It’s a beautiful summer day. My fiancé, John, and I are driving through his hometown, a suburb of Manhattan. I periodically glance over at John, happily admiring his smile and deep blue eyes. I have just completed graduate school, and I am getting married. John suddenly stops the car and exclaims, “Hey, we’re near Michelle’s house. Why don’t we see if she’s home?” I pause. What can be wrong with meeting his first love? I’d heard so much about her, and, after all, it’s been ten years since they broke up. I tell myself to be open-minded. This is the...

      (pp. 47-52)

      I learned my father was to receive a “Contractor of the Year” award at six on a Friday evening, one month hence. My analytic session was scheduled for five that same day at an office a mere mile from the conference hall. After enjoying my father’s good news, my thoughts turned to my analytic hour. How could I have my full session, change into my fancy clothes, and fight my way through traffic to get to the dinner on time?

      As an analysand (a person undergoing psychoanalysis), I had recounted many recollections of my childhood adoration of my father. I...

  6. Part Two: Development

      (pp. 55-59)

      It was just a sneeze, but to Rachel’s infant ears it must have sounded as if her father had exploded. Lying in her father’s arms, startled by the sudden loud noise, she began to wail. Standing nearby, I quickly handed my husband, John, a Kleenex and soothed Rachel with comforting words. With the tissue’s appearance, her father was restored to his normal, nonsneezing, nonfrightening self. As babies do, Rachel quickly associated the thing itself—a tissue—to the emotional state with which she connected it.

      Seeing Rachel’s curiosity and response to the tissue, John and I initiated a game. He...

      (pp. 60-66)

      My twenty-seven-month-old son Sean scampered upstairs, chattering excitedly about his “job” supervising his ten-day-old sister’s bath. Once in the bathroom, he happily gave orders, pointing to the various creams and powders I would need. He was the boss of baby Emma’s bath, a role that perfectly suited his budding need to be in charge. He ordered me to gather the necessary potions as he intently peered at the small bundle in my arms.

      “Don’t be scared. I will help you,” he told Emma, imitating as best he could the crooning way grown-ups talk to newborns. Sean loved splashing in his...

      (pp. 67-73)

      When I was twelve, I worried that I might never grow breasts. There I was, all of eighty pounds, nothing but skin and bones, with knobby knees, bruised shins, a mouth full of braces—and not a curve in sight. I worried that I would remain forever a little girl with nothing on my chest but bumps—bumps that my well-endowed older sister unkindly referred to as “pimples in need of Band-Aids.”

      Although I had my older and younger sisters, the person I needed most was my mother. She had died two years earlier, leaving me with an aching pit...

    • 10 FIRST PARTY
      (pp. 74-80)

      I was thirteen years old, feeling sassy, and on my way to my first party with a boy. It wasn’t a “date-date,” but there I was in my red sleeveless sundress and little black heels, a white sweater thrown over my shoulders, with Frankie from across the street shuffling along beside me. As we moved down the block, several mothers leaned out of their apartment windows, smiling and waving at us. Frankie nearly died of embarrassment, but I took it as a kind of benediction. I was pleased with myself, with my growing breasts and tanned, bare legs. I was...

      (pp. 81-89)

      Who knows how a teenager chooses a college? Maybe it was that my friend Noreen’s older sister went to Boston College or that I thought Boston would be a cool place to live. I remember seeing pictures of cute guys as I flipped through the pages of the school’s recruitment material. Whatever the reason, after going through what felt like hundreds of brochures and well-worn college guides, I was certain I had found the perfect college for me. Exhausted by the abundance of choices, my mind finally settled on what seemed to be a clear, if somewhat random first choice....

    • 12 NESTLED
      (pp. 90-100)

      I am on my hands and knees on the pavement outside of the entrance to the hospital. My husband has gone to fetch a wheelchair. The world is perfectly still around me, and I can feel the baby coming. I breathe in and out, and in that moment there is nothing but me and my baby, pushing her way through the light of day.

      Suddenly there is bustle all around me, and I am being lifted onto a stretcher and wheeled into the delivery room, where within moments Caitlin slides out of my womb. She gazes at the room with...

  7. Part Three: Technique

      (pp. 103-112)

      Joey was my first child therapy patient, and his history was emptier, sadder, and more deprived than any seven-year-old’s should ever be. Unfortunately, his was a familiar story at the clinic where I trained—families torn apart by poverty, violence, and substance abuse. Joey’s father had abandoned him, and his mother was in jail. When there was no family left to care for Joey and his two younger sisters, they were removed to temporary shelter. Their social worker found them a spot with Mrs. Moore, who was an experienced and competent foster parent. Following his placement there, Joey was withdrawn...

    • 14 IN MY EYES
      (pp. 113-123)

      When I was in graduate school, I was pleased to get the chance to work in a therapeutic nursery. There, young students like me could treat children with a variety of developmental disorders. As students, we had the luxury of time. We worked with child patients over many months and years, having ample time to learn from the school’s senior faculty. We also had the opportunity to observe children in their classrooms. It was a rich experience and unlike anything else in my training. I was as hungry for knowledge as my patient, Petie, was for my attention

      Petie was...

      (pp. 124-134)

      When I was a young graduate student, my first patient, Christina, was my trial by fire. At six feet tall, she towered over me. Her eyeliner was dramatic, her lipstick fire-engine red, and her gaze fierce, hungry, withering. As a fresh-faced, earnest, and naive therapist, I accepted the referral eagerly and was determined to make it work. Only later did I learn that Christina was a legend around the clinic, having cycled through many novice graduate students. It was not without warning that I took on Christina. When her previous student therapist lifted one eyebrow and said,“Oh, just wait ....

      (pp. 135-142)

      “Oh, my God, not again,” I think, my graduate student heart thumping away deep inside my chest. Here I am, stranded in the hallway, outside of the therapy room. I am definitely on the wrong side of the door. My young patient has succeeded in locking me out. Again.

      I listen helplessly to the thwonking and banging coming from the other side of the door. I glance at my watch. Should I run to the main office to retrieve the master key? As soon as I race down the hallway, Lester might emerge. If he doesn’t see me, he’ll worry...

  8. Part Four: Treatment Challenges

      (pp. 145-156)

      Before this patient comes through my door, I need to prepare myself. In the brief time between sessions, there is no trip to the restroom, no cup of tea to warm me, no quick phone call, no peek at my email. Instead, I arrange myself in my black leather Stressless recliner. Knowing how overwhelmed and alone this patient makes me feel, I settle in and let the chair’s solid structure support me.

      I do what I can to ready myself for the emotional barrage that I know is coming. Taking a sip of water, I make myself settle back in...

    • 18 THE TAXI
      (pp. 157-167)

      His large hands clench into terrifying fists that pound once and then again into his thighs. I sit in my chair and watch, transfixed, as he glares at me in unblinking fury. A tangled knot in my stomach begins to form. I have never before seen this man in such a state of wordless rage. I watch as his blows land on the neat creases of his suit pants. I have no doubt that these blows are symbolically meant for me. I am almost positive he won’t actually hurt me, but …

      With a slow, guttural voice, he spits out,...

      (pp. 168-180)

      My best friend, Fiona, exuded an air of confidence that I associated with loving and being loved. I was convinced that the thing about Fiona was Dr. Stein, her analyst. I pictured him transforming her into the person with whom I was so enthralled. I thought of Fiona’s relationship with him as this secret delight that she carried with her. I desperately wanted that for myself. But Dr. Stein, as my best friend’s analyst, was not available to me, so he referred me to Dr. Bowman.

      As a psychology graduate student, I was filled with a romantic view of the...

  9. Part Five: When the World Shatters

      (pp. 183-193)

      It was Christmas time, and she loved Christmas. Her house, like all the other houses on the cul-de-sac, was decorated with a tree and a wreath on the door. The smell of freshly baked banana bread permeated the house. Everything was just the same as before, except nothing felt the same. What she had once looked forward to now caused her to recoil. The memory of the night before was a frozen, icy ball in the pit of her stomach. As she made her way into the kitchen toward her mother, her older sister, and her baby brother, she waited...

    • 21 THE BIRD BOX
      (pp. 194-202)

      On my desk sits the little bird box that used to belong on my grandparents’ shelf. It is an unusual, curved metal box, mostly black and bronze and somewhat tarnished. Across its top lies a bird, meant to be airborne, whose uplifted wings form the handles that open the lid. Inside there is an odd little assortment of things, photos and old cards. There is a postcard that I sent, with the words “The Windy City” written across the picture. It begins, “Dear Grandma and Grandpa, Chicago is very pretty, and I’m having a nice time.” I remember neither the...

      (pp. 203-210)

      Without you, my life is a tumultuous sea. I am struggling to stay above water, to keep from drowning. I can’t breathe. The waves crash down and wash over me as the water swells. There are some things I can expect … prepare myself for … brace myself against. But it is the small, ordinary moments—a word, a gesture, a song—that bring another surge of grief and suck me back into the dark morass of what lurks just below sea level: you are gone. My stomach churns, once again in knots, and sorrow ripples through my head. With...

      (pp. 211-217)

      “How many children do you have?”

      My husband and I were dining in a New York restaurant with my in-laws and a few of their neighbors. From the moment I had entered the room, I was determined to be gracious and friendly, holding at bay the tempest within me. In the candlelight, I felt myself begin to relax and savor my first course. Then one of the women turned to me with a smile and asked that seemingly simple question.

      Time stopped. My mind froze. How many children do I have? Three of four? Three of four? In that moment,...

      (pp. 218-224)

      As analysts and as writers, we continually seek ways to put words to experience and to communicate our thoughts and feelings. We hope to capture the essence of what makes us human, what makes us unique, and what defines us. Our patients come to us because they, too, are engaged in a struggle to find their voices. When we listen to our patients, we try to understand what lies beneath their words and find our own words to forge a connection with them. Over the course of treatment, patient and analyst develop a shared vocabulary, one that is meaningful and...

    (pp. 225-242)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 243-252)