04/19/2024, 14:17, Vienna  DEUTSCH / ENGLISH

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Leading articles

THE VIENNA PSYCHOANALYST wants to give not only already internationally established psychoanalysts, but also still unknown psychoanalysts the opportunity to post a self-written and not yet published article on the FrontPage of our online magazine!

Our Users then can leave comments, ask questions or discuss the articles in our forum. Our aim is to provide an international platform where for the first time anyone interested in psychoanalysis can exchange ideas on certain topics.
Articles are welcome in German and/ or English.

If you are interested, please send your article to

(For reasons of readability, the male form is used with personal names, however the female form is also always intended.)




In our interview series "in conversation with“, we will briefly present the authors of the leading articles. We want to give our users the opportunity to read the leading article from a different point of view.

This week we are very glad to welcome Elizabeth Ann Danto from New York, U.S.A.:

She is emeritus professor at Hunter College – City University of New York, and an international lecturer on the history of psychoanalysis as a system of thought and a marker of urban culture. She is the author of Historical Research (Oxford University Press, 2008) and her book Freud’s Free Clinics – Psychoanalysis and Social Justice, 1918–1938 (Columbia University Press, 2005) received the Gradiva Book Award and the Goethe Prize. With Alexandra Steiner-Strauss, Dr. Danto recently co-edited the book Freud/Tiffany: Anna Freud, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham and the ´Best Possible School´ (Routledge, 2018).


DWP: What brought you to psychoanalysis?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: I came to psychoanalysis through Anna Freud. Back in the early 1980s, I worked at the Manhattan Family Court in the Adoption and Foster Care proceedings, and I had the good luck to be assigned to the chambers of Judge Nanette Dembitz. I will never forget how Judge Dembitz made social workers and lawyers pursue solutions that would truly be best for the developing child, the court’s smallest and most vulnerable clients. Dembitz followed Beyond the Best Interests of The Child by the book. I have never been so inspired nor have I forgotten those books. Little did I know then that an idea like “the child’s right to safety” came from Vienna of the 1920s, and that “child time,” a term that acknowledges developmental needs and processes which most adults forget or deny, actually came from Anna Freud.

I moved, perhaps counter-intuitively, from Anna to Sigmund but not in a straight line. I came of age in the 1960s, emboldened by Simone de Beauvoir’s ideas of equality and advocacy. Then, as a social worker, I was deeply influenced by Dr. David Smith and the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic. So even though I was reading Freud by the 1970s, I wondered why psychoanalytic theory could resonate as “real” or “true” with a reader like myself whose sense of identity is inextricably bound with liberal or radical politics? Because psychoanalysis is, as I soon found, the great theory of emancipation for which I had been searching.

DWP: What fascinates you most about psychoanalysis?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: That it works on so many levels. The psychoanalytic system helps us understand individuals, pairs, groups and families as well as organizations and communities. Once equipped with basics like the structural model and the defenses, we can explore the range of human experience from projection to adaptation.

DWP: What role does psychoanalysis play as a form of therapy for you?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: Psychoanalysis a great equalizer because it respects the unconscious and the unconscious has no social class.

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk to Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?

Are there any specific questions?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: What is your metapsychology? Where are the missing papers?

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: Fabric because it is a product of human imagination; it reflects culture, history and ideas about the body. Social class as well to some extent.

DWP: Bruno Bettelheim pointed out the importance of fairy tales in childhood. Will you tell us your favorite fairy tale? And do you see parallels to your own adult life?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: I’m not interested in fairy tales. I prefer to deal with real life.

DWP: What do you particularly appreciate about psychoanalysis? Can psychoanalysis also have negative effects/cause harm?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: In the wrong hands or misunderstood, anything can have negative effects. Without a doubt, psychoanalysts have been known to manipulate the power imbalance between themselves and their patients. This danger is augmented by the vulnerability of the patient (say incested children or undocumented immigrants) and by the probing nature of the treatment itself.

DWP: Would you tell us your favorite quote? By Freud, or any other psychoanalyst?

Elizabeth Ann Danto: “The more we believe, the less we know.” Virginia Woolf in Orlando. The urge is to switch this around to something easier (the more we know, the less we believe) but Woolf wants to surprise us. Freud certainly saw that we use fantasy to manage our discomfort with the unknown. And unless we are careful, both Freud and Woolf say, fantasy will override reality.

Thank you very much for this conversation, we are already looking forward to your leading article!

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