CPPNJ - The Center for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of New Jersey

Articles

Daniel Goldberg - Highlighting Our Faculty Members

Maybe becoming a psychoanalyst was destiny. At the age of eight, I made my first visit to the office of a Newton, MA psychoanalyst, taken there to figure out why I didn’t want to return to overnight camp in Maine. A serious problem, indeed. This was a particularly puzzling development for my parents especially after I had such a terrific first summer at camp (despite the usual homesickness). The psychoanalyst began his query with a string of questions, but all I remember was staring at this huge jar of M & Ms on his desk. It was no ordinary jar, trust me. There had to be 500 M & Ms all in one glass container. Heaven staring right at me. My id was having an Idfest. How could I think of anything else? “Please, let me at ‘em. I’ll give you any answer you want,” I thought. It was torture. I spent at least 15 minutes answering his inane questions! How long do I have to wait for that magical moment of having my eight year-old hand dive into that pile of M & M’s? Well, somehow, he found his way into my unconscious and uncovered my fears of inadequacy (frankly, he probably didn’t have to search too hard), that the second summer at camp could never be as successful as my first. I was a precocious athlete at eight and somehow he discovered my worries that I could never match my successes from the first summer. Fear of failure, he privately announced to my mom – it was patently clear to him. Say what he wanted, but to me, the only thing that was obvious was I had to wait too damn long for those M & Ms. Three months later, off to camp I went, my problem about returning now a distant memory, and I was a “happy camper.” A one session cure, huh? Well, not so fast. With the pleasure of inhaling 100 of those M & Ms at the end of the session still fresh in my mind today, I have to say he was onto me. I have often returned to overcome fears of inadequacy over the years and have tried to distinguish my own bad objects from the projective identifications of patients. I actually believe that nearly every clinical session includes moments when we experience a sense of “not knowing.” I try to find comfort with just hanging out in this “in-between” space and allowing the analytic hour to unfold while containing this uncertainty. So, I‘ve come to value the utility of countertransference, which is quite different from how it was viewed in my early days of psychoanalytic training.. Allowing the experience of not knowing is the doorway into countertransference… and not a good enough rationale for staying home from camp.

I grew up in the Boston area and was a total “jock” in my early days. When I started Tufts in 1967, I rejected all things related to the developing of an inner world until the Beatles, Vietnam War protests, Woodstock, Allen Ginsburg, and brown rice all conspired to slowly wake me up to a larger world of meaning. Like many in those days, it was cool to not know what you wanted to do with your life at the end of college (rejection of greed and the military industrial complex, or some other defense to the fears of getting a life). But in my mid-twenties, I finally got a direction and went to New York University for graduate school. Not easy venturing into Yankee territory. But I finished my Ph.D. in 1981 and then did a NIMH Post-Doctoral Fellowship in sex and couples therapy with Joe LoPiccolo at SUNY, Stony Brook.

I then left Brooklyn for the Princeton area and joined the faculty at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia for 5 years. I eventually headed up their programs in sex and marital therapy. Being in academia left me with time to complete an edited book Contemporary marriage: Special issues in couples therapy. I left Jefferson in 1985, when my first and only child was born two months prematurely. I have been in private practice in Princeton since then.

I’m a self-confessed “I love training” junkie. I like to be a student. There’s so much to learn. I also enjoy teaching and fostering the process of discovery in a group. Actually, I take the rigors of our work very seriously and what’s exciting is that we never stop the effort to grow as therapists. Yoga has helped me with their word “practice” and the humility that is imbedded in the notion of “practice”-i.e., the work is never done, Even before I had read an ounce of Fairburn, I have always been interested in our interpersonal longings. Winnicott’s wisdom, that there is no baby without a mother. Has always struck the deepest chord with me. Extending this to psychoanalysis, I have feel that our intrapsychic work gets most challenged and healed in the context of a couple relationship and not only on the couch of an analyst. So, expanding into couples therapy has been a calling since my NYU dissertation on inhibited sexual desire. I received family and couples training from Phil Guerin and the folks at the Center for Family Learning and then did some work in object relations couples therapy with Dave and Jill Scharff. I also became certified as an Imago relationship therapist.

But, all along, I had this nagging sense that I wasn’t reaching people at a deep enough level; however, I never thought I’d become a psychoanalyst. The old stereotype of passive analysts filled my head. When a psychoanalyst friend claimed that the chest pains I was beginning to experience starting a private practice were probably related to unconscious anger, my mature response was to get angry at him and dismiss him entirely. So, perhaps to prove him wrong, I began psychoanalysis and, what do you know, my chest pains soon went away. I was sold. Then, I enrolled in IPPNJ and the rest is history. I’m committed to a practice in psychoanalysis where a process of reflection is valued over all else.

After finishing IPPNJ in1997, the highlight of my professional life has been to become part of the merger of the two institutes and a faculty member of this new institute, CPPNJ. I’ve taught a variety of courses over the years including the initial Freud class and a Winnicott/Bollas elective. With the birth of the new institute, I can feel a sense of openness, excitement, and creativity as we all try to rethink our ways of approaching the intrapsychic mind and our interpersonal longings. I am passionate about building bridges between psychoanalysis and other approaches to psychotherapy. I have helped to create the New Jersey Couples Therapy Training Program, the couples division of CPPNJ. While my title is Director, it really is run by a group of us – Rose Oosting and Tom Johnson. The couples division faculty have been amazing in stepping up with teaching and other program building tasks. The division is truly becoming a community within CPPNJ. I’ve also developed an interest in Jungian psychology and spent six years in a weekly study group integrating Jungian approaches and object relations. Archetypal forces exist along side our own, particular developmental history and I get inspiration from perspectives beyond our own ego.

Maine, the Red Sox, dogs, golf, yoga, and particularly photography are all other parts of my life. Work can interfere with how much time I can devote to taking pictures, but I’m grateful that I can exercise this part of my brain. Look for a group show in September called “Spiritual Spaces” at Gallery 14 in Hopewell.