The Analyst in the Inner City
Race, Class, and Culture Through an Analytic Lens
In his book The Analyst in the Inner City: Race, Class, and Culture Through an Analytic Lens (Routledge, 2009), the well-respected psychoanalyst Dr. Neil Altman explores what happens when one practices analysis outside the private practice frame and, instead, among the urban poor. Drawing on years of experience helping underprivileged groups, Altman discusses the impact of poverty on the analyst and patient alike, delineating what he calls the social “third” and its role in the treatment, all the while suggesting that clinicians must encounter and reckon with their own inevitable unconscious predispositions concerning “others.”
In this interview, we hear an analyst think through the social with an eye towards the unconscious. Altman argues that psychoanalysis, by being in some ways elitist, especially when it has allied itself with the medical profession, has engendered considerable hostility in many quarters. He urges us to begin to address and take seriously critiques of our profession so that we might have a larger impact on the world at large. Altman says analysts are positioned to hear the other side of the hegemonic message, yet too often turn a deaf ear. Altman urges us to listen, and thereby make psychoanalysis politically relevant.