IN THE SHADOW OF FREUDʼS COUCH: Portraits of Psychoanalysts in their Offices
This project, which I began in 2003, stems from my intersecting lives as a psychoanalyst and photographer. I have always been interested in seeing people...in their surface appearance and in the deeper sense of who they are. Both psychoanalysts and photographers try to attain a vision of their subjects that is rich in the complexity and interaction between what is shown and what is concealed. Attending to how people present themselves in their facial expressions, body language, attire, and what they chose to surround themselves with can result in a clearer picture of the multifaceted nature of the self.
The subject of the psychoanalyst is fascinating because of its traditional posture of neutrality. The analyst and the analytic space, as represented physically by the office, occupy a very private domain. The person and the room have been thought to exist as a blank screen for patients to project their transferences and fantasies upon. The Victorian consulting room of Sigmund Freud, with its oriental rug-draped couch, set a mood and technique that governed psychoanalytic life for much of its first century.
Today, psychoanalysts speak not with a single voice or presentation. They are a mosaic of diverse practitioners showing multiple faces in their work. I feel very fortunate to have been welcomed into the special places where my colleagues practice, to have been granted the opportunity to experience these analytic spaces, and to see the women and men who, true to Freud, still are the receivers of dreams and dread.
The subjects range in age from their late twenties to their nineties. They include some of the most prominent leaders in the field and also candidates who are training to become psychoanalysts. Photo shoots were taken in offices in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, Cambridge and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, West Bloomfield and Birmingham, Michigan, Coral Gables, Florida, London, Paris, Rome and Bologna, Italy, Athens, Madrid, Santiago, Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City.
-Mark Gerald, PhD