04/15/2024, 20:38, 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 Sebastian Zimmermann from New York, U.S.A.:

Psychiatrist in private practice on New York City´s Upper West Side and an award winning photographer. After graduating from medical school at the Freie Universitaet in Berlin, he relocated to New York City. He trained at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, where he completed a psychiatric residency and child & adolescent psychiatry fellowship. Dr Zimmermann´s book, "Fifty Shrinks" has been featured in numerous magazines and media outlets including The New York Times, The New York Post, Der Spiegel, Wiener Zeitung, Datum, Falter and Marie Claire, Taiwan.

DWP: What brought you to psychoanalysis? Have you ever undergone psychoanalysis?

Sebastian Zimmermann: When I took up my psychiatric training at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, all residents were assigned supervisors from the nearby New York Psychoanalytic Institute who taught us the foundations of psychoanalytic theory and practice. For example, one of my first supervisors was Zvi Lothane, an expert on Schreber, whom I also featured in my book. I myself have not undergone formal psychoanalysis, but have been in psychodynamic therapy.

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk with Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?
Are there any specific questions?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I would like to ask him what he thinks of the development that psychoanalysis has undergone since the 1940s. If I could assume that he would be alive today, I’d love to ask his opinion of relational psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy.

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I’ve had both types.

DWP: According to Bruno Bettelheim and 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?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I’m a huge fan of fairy tales perhaps because the Brothers Grimm spent time collecting stories in my hometown of Marburg which still retains its medieval character. My favorite story is “Rapunzel.” I find the image of Rapunzel’s blond hair flowing down the tower very compelling and memorable - perhaps because it reminds me of my mother’s long, blond hair that she often wore in braids. Not far from Marburg, you’ll find the tower that served as the model for the original illustration in the Brother’s Grimm fairytales. Although I now live in the city of skyscrapers, I have discovered an old Rapzunzel-like tower near my home in upper Manhattan.
Every time I pass the tower on the Harlem River Drive, I imagine there’s a woman inside who only I can see. I feel like there’s a little bit of the brother’s Grimm in New York City.

DWP: I dream,….

Sebastian Zimmermann: I dream about crossing over a small bridge that connects New York and Germany. I am having coffee and cake with my family in Germany, only to return for dinner with my wife and kids in New York.

DWP: What do you find good or particularly good in psychoanalysis and is there anything you do not like about it?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I believe in the power of the unconscious, and I enjoy working with dreams. I like the method of free association because it so reliably plumbs the depth and richness of the human psyche allowing the analyst and patient to co-create meaning within the safety of the therapeutic relationship.
I do not like psychoanalysis in the hands of practitioners who are excessively rigid in the application of its techniques. For example, I have seen psychoanalysts who are quick to put all responsibility on the patient, who are accused of resisting when they don’t improve. Some of these analysts fail to ask themselves if they are the ones who bear the responsibility and are having difficulty handling the patient.

DWP: Do you have a favorite Freud - quote?

Sebastian Zimmermann: “Everywhere I go, I find that a poet has already been there.”

DWP: Have you ever been in Vienna?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I have been to Vienna twice in my teens. The first time, I went with my gymnasium for a week-long high school expedition. The second time was in the early 1980s when my best friend and I bicycled from Vienna to Budapest. Since then, I have learned that my great, great grandfather, Moritz Paar, lived and worked as a photographer in Vienna before he settled in Marburg after 1848. I hope to visit Vienna soon with my wife who is writing a television series about Freud at the beginning of the 20th century.

DWP: Why or how did you choose the topic of your article which we will present our readers next week?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I wanted to take the readers with me inside the consulting rooms and invite them to meet some of the remarkable people who graciously allowed me to portray them.

DWP: While you were working for your book “Fifty Shrinks” was there something that has particularly surprised you or that you did not expect?

Sebastian Zimmermann: I was surprised about how hard it was to generate the text for my book. I spent a lot of time honing my photography skills but had neglected to improve my writing. Without the editing skills of my wife, Renée Silverman and other writer friends, the book would not have advanced to the next level. I learned that, as an author, you can greatly benefit from the input of others.

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

Contact information of the author:
Sebastian Zimmermann

Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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