Milton Viederman   Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

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Life narrative in understanding and changing behavior

1. Mechanisms of Psychotherapeutic Change. This work is directed toward understanding the mechanisms of change in a broad range of psychotherapies from brief therapy to psychoanalysis. The substantive psychoanalytic change that involves modification of personality and persistent patterns of maladaptive behavior is examined from the point of view of the reciprocal relationship between the psychoanalyst and the patient and the effect of the real person of the psychoanalyst on the treatment process, in work that otherwise consists of understanding and interpreting unconscious material. Change also occurs as the patient reexperiences his past in the analytic situation in such a way as to be able to value himself in this new situation in ways that were not possible during childhood. The conditions for the emergence of long repressed traumas are examined. On the other side of the spectrum, the impact of the immediate and direct interpretation of the metaphoric meanings of conversion symptoms in a brief therapy are explored from the point of view of how they lead to symptom relief.

2. Applied Psychoanalysis in the Study of Artists. In a number of studies, the impact of a painter's early life history, fantasies, and traumas are examined in the light of their effect on his artistic creations. The themes of mastery over trauma and the expression of fantasies generated by early traumatic experience are shown to permeate the works of certain artists.


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  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital