Getting to Know the IAPSP International Community

A column by   Jane Lewis, L.C.S.W.

The latest in this series of biographical sketches of members who live outside the United States is an interview with Josh White, M.D.
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Josh White

Dr Josh White is a Consultant Psychiatrist working in private practice in Melbourne, Australia. He completed his medical studies at Monash University in 2001, a Masters of Public Health at University of Melbourne in 2005, and became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists in 2011. He undertook his training in Psychiatry at St Vincent's Hospital Mental Health Service and the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne. He has clinical and academic interests in Perinatal Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. He has been a member of IAPSP since 2010.

How did you get interested in becoming a therapist (I know this could be a book)?

I really had no idea what a therapist was until 2005 when I started working as a Psychiatry trainee at St Vincent's Hospital, a public mental health service in Melbourne, Australia. This is a typical inner-city state-run psychiatric service but within it there were a few Psychiatrists who were trained psychoanalytic psychotherapists. They were not particularly interested in Self Psychology, but they were very devoted to teaching and had an ability to find clarity and hope in cases where everyone else seemed to feel lost and helpless. To me they exemplified the art of listening and the importance of allowing our patients to tell their story in their own way and in their own time. I was inspired by their mixture of intellectual rigour, energy and humanity.

Beyond this, I think there might be something in my temperament which has rendered me incapable of doing much else. My wife sometimes teases me about this but I do believe that becoming a therapist was more an inevitability than conscious career choice in my case. Life experiences have also sensitised me to the nature of the work. I remember being a medical student on an overseas elective placement in South Africa in 1998, where I had my first experience of a patient sharing something of their inner emotional life with me. The young man was recovering from a severe manic illness and he asked me if the illness he had suffered occurred in white people too. I assured him it did and felt, as a complete outsider, an enormous privilege that he saw me as someone he could ask. I felt sensitive to a mixture of shame and hope, as this very intelligent young man struggled to recover from a highly stigmatised illness in a rural town where traditional beliefs of witchcraft still prevailed, and in a newly post-apartheid South Africa, where he still seemed to feel a second class citizen. I often reflect on that being the moment when the career chose me.

What is your training?

I am a newly qualified Psychiatrist, a Fellow of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. I attained this qualification only late last year so have only commenced independent practice a few months ago. It has been quite an ordeal over the past 6 years with all sorts of exams and courses and requirements, a bit like a game of "Snakes and Ladders" in some ways.

I trained as a Medical Doctor at Monash University in Melbourne, finishing in 2001. I enjoyed my medical education very much and often feel it has enriched me as a therapist, learning through the experiences of patients and their families about their struggles with illness, disability and death. I also learnt a lot about the limitations of modern Medicine, as the field strives to find effective treatments for everything imaginable and tries in vain to reduce everything imaginable into a treatable diagnosis, so often blind to the consequences.

After my Internship and Residency years I completed a Master of Public Health at the University of Melbourne in 2005. I was interested in Preventative Medicine, believing the more that Medicine (e.g. the prescription of SSRIs) could be prevented the better! I now have a particular interest in perinatal, parent-infant and family work using a psychotherapeutic approach. I hope it will be possible to demonstrate the long term preventive benefits of this in future.

Right now, I am also immersed in some parent-infant and family work of my own, having just recently had our third son. I'm not sure if you'd call this training but it certainly feels like it! When the timing is right, I will pursue more formal training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, hopefully in the US.

How and when did you get interested in self psychology?

It was my incredibly good fortune in 2006 to be allocated as a supervisor, Ron Lee (Psychotherapy After Kohut: A Textbook of Self Psychology, Five Kohutian Postulates: Psychotherapy Theory from an Empathic Perspective). As a requirement of Australian Psychiatric training we are asked to complete a "long" case in psychotherapy of 40 sessions. Ron introduced me to Self Psychology through case supervision and by reference to many wonderful authors. Kohut was obviously primary but also the fields of Affect Theory, Inter-subjectivity and Infant Research. I could not stop at 40 sessions and still see my patient for weekly therapy after 200+ sessions under supervision. It has been the most profound and fulfilling learning experience of all my medical/psychiatric training, to see the gradual transformation of this young woman and to observe the benefits flowing on to her young daughter.

Ron has been much more than a supervisor, he has inspired many of us in the Australian Self Psychology community. He joined St Vincent's Hospital Department of Psychiatry as a Honorary Consultant in 2005 and has become an extremely popular teacher and supervisor. There is no one else like him in Melbourne, perhaps Australia. He initiated a study group which meets at the hospital once a month on a Saturday morning. Among the Psychiatry trainees, this has become known as "Secret Saturdays", because of the need to keep a low profile for the sake of faculty sensitivities.

What is it that appeals to you about self psychology?

I like the way Self Psychology embraces the ambiguous, unpredictable nature of human experience and continually reminds us of the inexact nature of theory as a method to understand it. To me, the challenge seems more how to stay tuned into each patient, to explore contextual associations rather than presume to know what they are. There is a wonderful freedom and sense of humility that comes with this approach, including an open-ness to the entire history of psychoanalytic thought, not just Self Psychology. Donna Orange came to Melbourne in February and spoke to us about her experience of constantly being asked if she considers herself a Self Psychologist. She said she now responds to this by saying that she started out in Self Psychology but really she just wants to be a good human being! I thought that was very inspiring. I also think there is something about Self Psychology which encourages us to be good human beings more often.

How is it to be a self psychologist in Australia?

It can be a little lonely being a Self Psychologist in Australia due to our remote location, small population and the relative dominance of other theoretical approaches, especially classical psychoanalysis and object-relations in Melbourne. I am a member of the Empathink Association of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (EAPSP), which is closely aligned with the IAPSP. We are still a small group but enthusiastic and growing, with our local monthly study group in Melbourne and a national annual conference. We are very excited to have Shelley Doctors coming to Melbourne as our keynote speaker in March 2013. We also happen to think that Australia would make an excellent location for the international conference one day!

Links to international organisations are obviously crucial to our future. I attended my first IAPSP Conference in Los Angeles last year which was fantastic, and was privileged to visit the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis while I was there. I was very generously allowed to sit in on a few classes. I could only admire what is occurring there.

Do you have a speciality? Are you in a private practice?

I am trying to attract referrals from maternal-child health centres, Obstetricians and family services in the area, to become known as a Perinatal / Parent-infant therapist as well as an adult therapist. Whilst this practice is growing I work part-time in a private Psychiatric hospital. I hope to attain accreditation as a training practice for Psychiatry trainees in future.

What do you feel the attitude towards psychoanalysis is where you practice?

As a Psychiatry trainee I always felt the need to keep my interest in the field quite private outside our study group and conferences. I worried it might count against me if I adopted the language of psychoanalysis in exams and so forth. Now that I am qualified I am more confident to declare my interest, however, there is very limited acceptance of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy as a mainstream treatment. It is considered not to have a sufficient "evidence-base". This is manifestly untrue but it is very difficult to alter that perception, as I am sure is the case everywhere else too. Psychoanalysis per se is considered the realm of classical analysts in Melbourne and I suspect they might scoff at the suggestion that Self Psychology had any relationship.

What are your interests, other than psychoanalysis?

My major interest lately has been trying to keep up with our three sons. In fact we just had our youngest 6 weeks ago. The others are 2 and 5 years-old. It has been a very special time.

Jane Lewis, L.C.S.W. is a training and supervising psychoanalyst both at the Training and Research Institute for Psychoanalysis (TRISP) and at the American Institute for Psychoananalysis (AIP). In 1999 she founded and was the director for ten years of the AIP-affiliated Karen Horney Clinic Eating Disorder Program. She has written numerous papers on eating disorders and hair-pulling and how the body both expresses and disavows trauma. In 2002, she was recipient of the student Gradiva Award for her psychoananlytic research study on hair-pulling. She is currently in private practice in New York City.


Yavuz Erten

Yavuz Erten has a psychoanalytic private practice in Istanbul, Turkey. He also teaches and supervises master's and doctoral students at both the Bosphorus and Bilgi University and is on the faculty of the Training Institute in Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and Relational Psychoanalysis in Rome, Italy. In 2003, Yavuz, a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), co-founded Psike-Istanbul, a psychoanalytic study group accredited by IPA and is actively involved in giving seminars to numerous psychoanalytic candidates. He has written over twenty articles on various aspects of psychoanalytic practice and is the co- author of five books published in Turkish.

His latest book, The Faces in the Dark Room (2010), is a compendium of articles which he wrote and published in Turkish between 1999 and 2010. The topics of the articles include the formation of subjectivity; the relationship between transference, fantasy and dream; and the link between game and psychoanalysis. Some of the articles are examples of applied psychoanalysis, such as psychoanalytic studies of movies. As Yavuz explained, the title of the book has a double-meaning: the first, refers to camera obscura which translates from Latin to mean the "dark room" --the camera itself. (The prototype of the modern camera was a large box used to take the first pictures in human history. However, it was used only to take the picture of immobile objects such as cathedrals, monuments, nature because it took long hours to do it. ) The second, refers to the darkness of the cinema hall and the unconscious side of the human psyche. The faces in the dark room, are both the objects in the unconscious and the figures on the screen onto which the unconscious objects are projected.

Yavuz began his psychoanalytic training in 1998, at the National Institute for Psychotherapies (NIP), in the International Training in Contemporary Psychoanalysis program. His training involved a four-year, Odysseus-like commute between New and Istanbul. Concurrently, he was a founding member of the Anatolian Center for Psychoanalytical Psychotherapies where he continued his training in self psychology under the mentorship of the Siegels. In 2003, Yavuz trained for an additional four years in psychoanalysis at the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA).

Yavuz lives in Suadiye, Istanbul with his wife, Meral; 11 year old daughter, Yasemin; and cat Osman. Meral, also a psychotherapist is currently a psychoanalytic candidate at IPA and has a private practice in Istanbul.

The IAPSP eForum is the online forum of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. Edited by Doris Brothers, Ph.D.


Editor's Introduction  

by Doris Brothers

Letter from the President

by Eldad Iddan

Our Creative IAPSP Community

Op-Ed Articles

Sadomasochism Contextualized  

by Andrew Lagomasino, Psy.D.

"A Plea from the Public Square"

by Flora Lazar, Ph.D., L.S.W

Our Leadership Dilemma

by Harry Paul, Ph.D. &
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Literary Criticism, Psychoanalysis and the New Politics of Otherness

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The views and ideas expressed in these articles may not be shared or endorsed by the governing body of IAPSP and its members. Any opinion written in the eForum is solely that of the author of the article.


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