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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A favorite amusement during my elementary-school years was a puzzle-map of the United States. The puzzle pieces comprised all the states. The top of the puzzle went beyond the USA halfway up Canada, and the bottom ended halfway through Mexico.

Mad or Sad?

Here I am, taking comfort in the sunroom and emailing off another cartoon to my sister. I have two sisters and have always been especially close to sister number two, Patti. It could be said that we are close because we are nearer in age, but really, we are close because we are pretty much on the same wavelength. We enjoy a lot of the same things including guffawing over clever memes. We like to laugh.

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