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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
leadingarticle@theviennapsychoanalyst.at


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

IN CONVERSATION WITH

(08/16/2017)

Author: SOPHIA BENEDICT / DWP

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 Sophia Benedict from Vienna, Austria:

Born 1945 in the USSR
Occupation: Journalist for Science, writer, translator, specialist author
Citizenship: Austria (married in 1984 to an Austrian)
Education: University of Kazan, Russia: studies in journalism, German, literature and history; Diploma for journalism
Further Education: Education and Training in Vienna for German, Psychoanalysis, Pedagogy in Adult Education, Communication, Elocution
Languages: a) Russian (mother tongue); B) German (very good) c) Ukrainian (good) d) English (basic knowledge)
Cultural and educational trips: England, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Malta, South Africa, Tunisia, Israel
Work: 08.07.1966 - 15.09.1984 Journalism (newspapers, magazines, radio TV) in the USSR (Kazan, Tbilisi, Moscow)
02.01.1985 - now freelance journalist, translator, interpreter in Vienna
Membership in:
Press Club "Concordia", Austrian PEN-Club, Austrian Writers´ Association (ÖSV), Austrian Association of Translators of Literary and Scientific Works, Wiener Sigmund Freud Society
Interests: Photography (part-time), Painting, Sculpture
Over 20 published books.

DWP: What led you to deal with psychoanalysis, respectively with Freud and his achievements?

Sophia Benedict: I come from the USSR, where psychoanalysis has been undesirable since 1925 until the mid-1980s. Everyone knows how sweet the forbidden fruit is. The few works that I have managed to read have aroused my interest and it has grown since then. Later, when I was already living in Vienna, I read almost all of Freud’s works; I attended the lectures on psychoanalysis and even took part in lectures from the university as a free listener. Then I began to translate articles and books on psychoanalysis. I have also written some science journalistic books that have been successfully published in Russia.


DWP: Have you ever undergone psychoanalysis?

Sophia Benedict: Yes. This is precisely why my knowledge of psychoanalysis has been increasing.


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

Sophia Benedict: Quite a few. Something like this, for example; we know that Freud mainly dealt with psychological problems caused by the repression of sexual desires and instincts, where concealment and misinformation of children play an important role, when children ask where babies come from. It was recommended not to lie to the children, but to gently teach them the truth. Today - beyond any moralization - I would like to see the father of psychoanalysis try analyzing what happens to the psyche of a child and as a result to an adult when children are overflown in our today´s aggressively sexual society with information about all kind of different intercourse, so one can absolutely not talk of gently! But, children are - as well known - curious and adventurous. Therefore, my question would be, which fantasies and consequently what changes in the psyche of a man can occur thanks to this flood.


DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Sophia Benedict: None! For me, just a comfortable chair! Why? Apart from the fact that it would be unpleasant for me to lie where many strangers have already been laying, how can I lie at all when another person sits, and especially when that person is a man! If at all, he should be able to lie comfortably next to me. This, of course, is just a joke! If I were to be serious; on a couch, I would feel like in the hospital, where one is powerlessly exposed to the competencies of a doctor. For a short time, it might be okay, but in the long run it would be rather stressful. Thinking about it, while a doctor is able to help every patient, the success of a psychoanalyst - even if he is an absolute genius - depends on his "talents" as well as on the willingness of the patient to work together. You need a certain degree of mutual sympathy, don’t you?

Further, one of the most important tasks of a psychotherapist - in my opinion - is the fight against the feeling of impotence that comes from childhood. Is this not that the feeling that causes future neuroses? So the couch, on the one hand it serves to relax, which is extremely important in psychotherapy, but on the other hand it places the two - the psychoanalyst and the patient - in an unequal position, and it at least refuses the patient the illusion (fantasy) of equivalence. Personally, I would feel quite impotent, even exposed, on a couch, especially if I could not see the face of the psychotherapist. It is clear that anonymity of a psychoanalyst is enormously important in psychotherapy, but it is also wrong to hide completely from the patient. If I can not see his all-seeing eyes, a shadow of compassion, his benevolence without words, I would not have the feeling that I finally have someone on my side. This "feedback" alone plays - as I think - a huge psychotherapeutic role. You will ask what if the psychoanalyst would place his chair so that I could see his face? But there would still be no conversation "on equal terms". To look in each other´s eyes would give me a feeling of equality and help to combat my feeling of inferiority (it is, I think, the basis of almost all neuroses) and slowly become "more adult". Is psychoanalysis not largely about helping a patient to grow mentally?


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?

Sophia Benedict: Fairy tales have always played an important role in my life. My grandmother was a talented fairy tale teller and she was the best person in my life. Her fairy tales were full of goodness and justice. My favorite tale was Vasilisa the Beautiful or The Frog Princess. I must say, Vasilisa fairy tales are part of the Russian tradition; they are very popular among all generations. They reflect not only the Russian soul but also the intimate role of women in Russian society. Interestingly, this fairy tale does not end - as is customary - with a wedding, but it begins with one. So…

A king calls on his three sons to marry. They are to determine their future spouses by shooting an arrow: at the point where the arrow lands on the ground, they will find their future wife. The two older sons find their wives in this way, the arrow of the youngest son Ivan-Zarewitsch, however, lands in front of frog (in Russian, this noun is feminine). The boy is very unhappy, but he must marry the frog. Of course, everyone laughs at him. The King soon presents his daughters-in-law with challenges like weaving clothes, bake a bread, and things like that. The frog, with the aid of its magical powers, surpasses the other wives in all its tasks. Still, the youngest son is ashamed of the frog at his side, and he is utterly desperate when the father summons all his daughters-in-law to a ball. Ivan-Zarewitsch cries bitter tears, but his frog-wife asks him to go to the ball alone and promises to follow. In fact, she suddenly turns into a princess and introduces herself to the ball as a charming dancer, so she becomes the king´s favorite. This naturally creates envy and malice on the part of the other daughters-in-law. Ivan-Zarewitsch is enthusiastic about his wife and is afraid that she will transform back into a frog, so he secretly runs home and burns her frog skin. When Vasilissa sees this, she says, "Why did you do that, I only had to spend three more days as a frog, then the evil spell would have been lifted, and I would have stayed with you forever. Now, however, I must get away from here, to an enchanted castle with an evil wizard". With these words, she disappears. Then comes the second part of the fairy tale where Ivan-Zarewitsch is on the search. On the way, he tries to shoot a hare and a duck and catch a pike, but they ask him not to do it. He has pity on them and goes to sleep hungry. Later, these animals come to his aid - without them, he could not have recovered his wife.

What is hiding in this fairy tale? As it often happens in fairy tales, dependence on the parents, growing up, a seemingly modest wife who partly takes over the role of the mother (typically Russian!), then the husband must also show what he is capable of. He shows himself as a courageous warrior, but he is also able to put his own needs (hunger) behind the needs of others. What is attractive is this solidarity between man and beast (between grownups and little ones?), and then of course - a happy ending as consolation! Parallels to the development of my life? I must admit, in my childhood I simply had to believe in fairy tales. They have been a great psychological aid to me, but I believed in them for far too long, and I believed rather naively that humans are essentially good, and if I am good to them (to the hares, ducks, pikes ...) they would like me and stand by my side. During psychoanalysis, my psychoanalyst once asked me, "Why do you think that all people are good?". So, you have to learn in time where a fairy tale ends and where life begins. One must also keep in mind that fairy tales – as do generally literature, cinema or theater - play a very great educational role. It was no accident, that Freud wrote in one of his letters: "The words of a poet are indeed his deeds"


DWP: I dream, …

Sophia Benedict: What my dreams are about? Oh, my dreams are quite mundane. I dream of being able to continue writing my books undisturbed without having to do thousands of other trivial things just to live on ...


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

Sophia Benedict: In psychoanalysis, nothing is bad or wrong!
What is not good is that it is not protected against misuse. In the wrong hands, it is often used as a weapon of manipulation, etc. It is just as dangerous when it falls into the hands of stupid, immature people, who, for example, draw false conclusions from the knowledge about the normality of the Oedipal love and thus use it to justify their own Sick instincts, because they have become conscious of them. So, not always should the unconscious be allowed to become conscious, because unfortunately not all people can cope with such a thing. During his time, Freud said: “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” However, that was then. Whether people do think about their responsibilities, today? This is hardly noticeable. Today they are simply high on their freedom. Sometimes I even wonder if the priests of the old world were wrong about not sharing the knowledge they had acquired with their fellow citizens. Knowledge can not only serve the good, it can also be abused if you understand what I mean.


DWP: Do you have a favorite Freud - quote?

Sophia Benedict: I think every thought of Freud is worth much. I could name dozens of his quotes as my favorites, but I will only introduce one: „Although thus humbled in his external relations, man feels himself to be supreme within his own mind. Somewhere in the core of his ego he has developed an organ of observation to keep a watch on his impulses and actions and see whether they harmonize with its demands.”


DWP:  Are there other psychoanalysts, in addition to Sigmund Freud, who you like to study?

Sophia Benedict: Freud said that the goal of humans being happy was not contained in the plan of creation. It is, however, contained in the tasks of psychoanalysis - to help people become mentally healthy. Above all, it is the task of psychoanalytic pedagogy. Since the formation of future neuroses are based in childhood, it is extremely important to intercept the disease where it arises. One of the pioneers in this area was Anna Freud. Among contemporary specialists, I greatly appreciate Sylvia Zwettler-Otte, Horst Petri and, above all, Helmuth Figdor with his concept of psychoanalytic-educational counseling; in accordance to his initiative, even the training for psychoanalytic-pedagogical counselors was founded. I must admit that the books of Helmut Figdor have given me a new perspective, which helped me greatly in my personal life. If only I had known all this when I was little!

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


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