Hide and Seek/Hidden and Found: In Search of a Balanced Life: Memoirs, Stories,and Essays by Howard L. Schwartz

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Hide and Seek/Hidden and Found: In Search of a Balanced Life: Memoirs, Stories,and Essays by Howard L. Schwartz

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Hide and Seek/Hidden and Found: In Search of a Balanced Life: Memoirs, Stories,and Essays by Howard L. Schwartz

Click Here For a Book Review: by Carol L. Skolnick of Hide and Seek/Hidden and Found: In Search of a Balanced Life: Memoirs, Stories,and Essays by Howard L. Schwartz.

In his 1980 plenary address to the American Psychoanalytic Association, Kenneth Calder* discussed the value, indeed necessity, to maintain our analyzing instrument by attention to our dreams, daydreams (fantasies), and the everyday events that draw attention to our neurotic conflicts, compromises, and adaptions. That it is personally and professionally important goes without saying. Yet, many analysts do not do it regularly or do it only when faced with countertransference issues, life crises, or symptoms that call attention to the need for analysis.

     Calder concluded his address with a story of a female teacher from Boston who becomes lost while traveling in a remote New England rural area. She asks directions of a farmer and is told that he doesn’t know the way to the town she is seeking, nor a second town that might be near the first. She grows anxious, impatient, and angry, and says to him, “You don’t know much of anything, do you?”

     After reflection he says, “You’re right, Ma’am, absolutely right.” He adds, “But I’m not lost.”

     After almost four decades, I realize the deep impact on me of this candid, humane talk from an early, admired supervisor of mine. Calder concluded on a hopeful note, “If you possess a reasonable amount of healthy narcissism, you may even find that self-analysis is a labor of love.”

     My self-analysis began in 2002 with the writing of two chapter books of stories, titled The Adventures of Kenny and Benny, motivated by missing Alexander, my four-year old grandson who had just moved from New Jersey to Mississippi. Shortly before leaving he had said, ”Don’t be sad Poppa Howie. I’ll write to you.” Of course he couldn’t, but I could write stories for him to be read to him by his parents and my wife and me when we visited. The adventure books were followed in 2003-2010 by memoirs that I came to realize was a Personal Approach to Self-Reanalysis, my need to understand who I was at age 65. As I acknowledged and became more aware of my mortality, I realized how much I wanted to be remembered and known more fully by my children and grandchildren and to introduce them to my wife and me as young people as well as to those great-grandparents (my parents) they have never known.

     The organizational plan of Hide and Seek/Hidden and Found presented an opportunity to follow ideas introduced in the memoirs and stories with related essays (an excerpted book on adolescence, poem and eulogy, book reviews and a show review, elucidating and deepening those ideas). The identity of the analysand is me, an act of disclosure - not easy - and intended to present authentic self-analysis as recalled, with its inevitable distortions, along with my reflections on the material. The structure reminds me of case write-ups that were part of my psychoanalytic education.

     There is a resemblance of characters in this book to real people, disguised but discernable, to those who know me. I hope they will be tolerant of my attempts to be authentic while maintaining their privacy. I talk candidly about my younger brother, and have shown him this material. He gave me permission to use it and even provided details I had omitted for the sake of his privacy. “Kenny” and “Benny” are my brother and I - best pals we were not - but through years of writing, I uncovered my need for a relationship with him. As we’ve grown older, we are closer than we’ve ever been.

 

*Calder, Kenneth, MD Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  1980, 28:5-20

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