THE LETTER 26 (Autumn 2002) pages 187-211
The first time I went to see a therapist, a psychiatrist, at twenty years of age I was told to pray to cure myself of my homosexual affliction, though it had not been an issue presented in that our one and only session. Granted this was ten years ago and homosexuality was illegal in Ireland, but through my trainings from counsellor to psychoanalyst the issues and instruction around homosexuality have always presented a blind spot. Not merely the over simplified and cliched generalisations reducing male homosexuality to anal sex, but more significantly the ignorance around our ignorance. No matter how politically correct the times and people may have become, having a gay friend or neighbour or even a gay client, never makes you an authority.
A little bit of knowledge is always a dangerous thing, especially when projected from one human subject to another. The central value and strength of psychoanalysis has always been that it recognises each human subject as individual and in theory avoids generalisations. Only the client can know what is wrong with him, can know what will ‘cure1 him, and ultimately knows whether or not he wants to be cured. The analyst is more a witness than a healer or specialist, witnessing the analysand’s speech, his narrative and by his very presence in the transference, his ‘with-ness’ facilitating deeper awareness within the analysand’s own psyche.
However, the countertransference from the analyst can too often contain ‘the sum total of the prejudices, passions and difficulties of the…