A publication of the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis

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Sour Patch Kids: The Analyst’s Sweet Tooth

Rachel Newcombe, MSW
NW Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study, Orcas Island, WA Guest, Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis
January 2021 | Volume 7 | Issue 1

I breeze down the vegetable aisle at the local supermarket and deliberate: baby arugula or the 50% mix of arugula and spinach? Then I secure two cartons of grape tomatoes, on sale. The almond butter I prefer is sold out. I get my second choice, Justin’s Classic. I don’t have my shopping list, but my almost photographic memory comes in handy: Clausen’s Kosher Dill Pickles, Starbucks Pike Place Roast, and in the meat and fish aisle I score Dover Sole and a small brisket. Before I head to the check-out line I look around. I don’t see anyone I recognize and quickly grab a neon yellow bag of Sour Patch Kids and tuck it behind the jar of pickles.

In New York City I could go to a grocery store and not be concerned about running into a patient. But since I’ve moved 2,928 miles away from NYC to a small island in the Pacific Northwest, everything I thought I knew about extra analytic information, information a patient receives about you outside of the office, has changed. I could never have imagined running on a treadmill next to a patient or dining in a restaurant where my patient and his family sit one table away.

So, what happens to the analysis when my patients and I encounter each other outside of the office?

By the time a patient finds their way to my office they’ve learned to maneuver small town life. In the first session, I remind them about my confidentiality because it’s unavoidable our paths will cross. I let patients know they can talk about their experiences about an outside encounter when we are in session, like the time my patient and I participated in New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip. In this case we shared a shivering smile.

My patients also have feelings when I learn things about them outside of our sessions. For example, when I see them getting into a heated debate at a town hall meeting. Initially, navigating shared spaces was challenging, but now I appreciate the intimacy these interactions offer our work. The sacredness of the analytic relationship remains private, a moveable boundary traveling with me.

Especially in the candy aisle.

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Up Close and Personal

Biennially, the National Portrait Gallery fosters a competition where artists around the country submit intimate portrayals of a human being – sometimes themselves. In this video portrait, 2013 award winner Bo Gehring presents Esperanza Spalding ( 

No Words

On a recent trip to Germany, I was very interested to see their modern art, to see what sense the people are making of who they are.  Contemporary psychoanalytic thinking holds that some facts of human existence cannot be said but rather shown, as expressed in the arts.

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